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James fined for skipping interviews after loss

It turns out it wasn’t best left undone.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league fined LeBron James $25,000 for skipping the postgame news conference after Cleveland lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals.

James also stormed off the court without shaking hands with any Magic players or coaches.

Stern said he spoke with James, who had surgery Tuesday to remove a benign growth near his jaw. Stern said James asked him to convey an apology to the media before Game 1 of the NBA Finals featuring the Lakers and Orlando Magic.

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“He expressed to me that when he left the building and did not meet the media or did not congratulate the Magic, he’s wrong,” Stern said. “He knows he has a responsibility to all our fans, and that sportsmanship is appropriate whether you win or whether you lose.”

Stern initially ruled out the league fining James, but said, “I thought about it more and I went back and did a little work.”

In a wide-ranging news conference, Stern questioned the timing of a recent letter from Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) asking the league to repeal its rule that requires players be 19 years old and one year removed from their high school graduation.

“This is a business decision by the NBA, which is we like to see our players in competition after high school,” said Stern, who said that avenue could include the NCAA, the NBA Development League or playing in Europe. “It’s a kind of basketball maturity, and there is the ability of players to develop one more year personally.”

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Stern has said he’s open to extending the age limit to 20 but said Thursday that possibility is “only to the extent that everything is always on the table, but it’s not a deal-breaker for us. We’re very happy.”

He also acknowledged “we’re going to increase instant replay.” Pending approval of the NBA’s Board of Governors, referees will be allowed to use instant replay to disallow shots released after the 24-second shot expires.

And not surprisingly, Stern fielded questions about officiating, including a possibility of posting a video rule book online.

“We can at least attend to continue to demystify what ideal our referees are striving for, knowing that it’s an ideal that can never fully be reached,” he said.

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mark.medina@latimes.com


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