There is no drama quite like NBA drama. Seriously, there isn’t a soap opera on the planet that can hold a candle to the nightly turmoil around the league. The level of intensity, and oftentimes pettiness, brings out such an amusing and incredible product. It’s truly legendary stuff, and those who scoff at it certainly don’t appreciate it enough.
Although it is oftentimes funny to laugh when players get fined for ridiculous things, such as Kyrie Irving throwing a ball into the crowd after a game earlier this season, NBA fines each player, coach, team, and owner has to pay is no joke.
Sure, paying $2,000 for a technical foul or $25,000 for chucking the ball into the stands might be like buying a bottle of water at a convenience store to most professional basketball players, but there are those times when the fines are so big it makes your jaw drop because it would assuredly bankrupt most people in the country.
So here are the nine biggest fines in NBA history handed down by either former commissioner David Stern, or current commissioner Adam Silver, that would definitely take most of us a lifetime to pay off:
9. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks Owner (2002)
The Fine: $500,000
The Reason: Criticizing Officials
Let’s get this started the right way. At the time, this was a league-record fine for any individual, and it was a series of harsh remarks about certain officials that Mark Cuban never backed away from following the Mavs’ 105-103 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in 2002.
“The fact of the matter is the NBA is more about power than it is about getting the best possible product or even protecting its players,” Cuban said, via ESPN.
Cuban has never been afraid to speak his mind and the fines really don’t seem to bother him. He even matched the fine by giving $375,000 to cancer research and $125,000 to MPS.
Don’t worry, we will be seeing Mr. Cuban again very soon.
8. Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations (2010)
The Fine: $500,000
The Reason: Leaking Confidential League Memos
In basketball and business, and in life, secrets get shared. That’s just how things go and how they are reported in the social media era. Dumars, the Basketball Hall of Fame inductee as a player for the Pistons, just got caught doing so to Adrian Wojnarowski, the king of NBA breaking news. There’s no doubt the veteran reporter has inside sources to create the famous “Woj Bombs” on Twitter, and Dumars had to pay a hefty fine for having being caught red-handed.
7. New York Knicks (2006)
6. Denver Nuggets (2006)
The Fine: $500,000 Each
The Reason: Fighting Each Other
This wasn’t the worst fight in NBA history (Malice in the Palace will forever be worse), but a hard foul led to 10 ejections and a $1 million fine split evenly in half to both the Knicks and Nuggets. After what happened with Malice in the Palace between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, though, NBA commissioner David Stern proved his point that fighting would not be tolerated with the large fine for both teams.
5. Vladimir Radmanovic, Los Angeles Lakers (2007)
The Fine: $500,000
The Reason: Snowboarding
Laugh all you want at the reason because it’s definitely the craziest reason on the list. Just don’t be surprised if the 6-foot-10 Yugoslavia native doesn’t find it nearly as funny. Just when the Shaq vs. Kobe beef was starting to take a backseat, the Lakers fined Radmanovic a half-million dollars for violating his contract of staying healthy in the offseason when he separated his shoulder while snowboarding. Talk about the ultimate insult to injury and it’s safe to say he learned his lesson after this incident.
4. Micky Arison, Miami Heat Owner (2010)
The Fine: $500,000
The Reason: Tweeting
It’s not against the rules for an NBA owner to have an active Twitter account. In fact, it’s probably safe to assume NBA commissioner Adam Silver would approve of it right now. But when labor negotiations forced a lockout in 2011, and Arison — the billionaire owner of Carnival Cruise Lines — decided to chime in on social media about it, everyone knew he would be opening up his wallet. Although the tweet was deleted quickly, there was no escaping the fine.
3. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks Owner (2018)
The Fine: $600,000
The Reason: Telling Players to Tank
Oh, hello there again, Mr. Cuban. What happened this time? Oh, you went on Julius Erving’s podcast and told a story about how you ate dinner with some guys on the team and said, “losing is our best option” to potentially get a higher draft pick? Yeah, that’s not going to fly under Adam Silver’s watch. Cuban was fined for “public statements detrimental to the NBA” and it’s quite understandable why. Nobody wants to see their team lose, but the league doesn’t want a team to tank, either. Some things are just better left unsaid.
2. Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers Owner (2014)
The Fine: $2.5 Million
The Reason: Racist Comments
As soon as TMZ Sports released a recording of a private conversation between Sterling and his mistress, V. Stiviano, which included racist comments, everyone knew there would be a hefty price to pay. Days later, Sterling was banned from the league for life and fined the maximum allowed by the NBA constitution. Nothing about this situation was good.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves (2000)
The Fine: $3.5 Million
The Reason: Signing Secret Agreement
The most expensive fine in NBA history belongs to the team which thought an under-the-table agreement with Joe Smith was a good idea. Turns out, obviously, it wasn’t. The Timberwolves were slapped hard with a massive fine for trying to secretly go under the league’s salary cap for the year with a deal with Smith in order to get other star players. It will take something drastic by an organization to top this largest fine from 2000.