DALLAS, May 2 -- The NBA fined Houston Rockets Coach Jeff Van Gundy $100,000 -- the largest amount ever for a coach -- on Monday, a day after he accused officials of targeting center Yao Ming this postseason and said Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is to blame.
While Van Gundy laughed off the penalty and Yao offered to pick up half the tab, the matter jumped to another, far more serious level. Commissioner David Stern called the fine "an intermediary step," adding that an investigation will continue once the Rockets finish their playoff run.
He said further punishment is possible, even implying that Van Gundy could face a lifetime ban.
"If he's going to say things like that, he's not going to continue in this league," Stern said. "If the attitude reflected in those comments continues to be public, he's going to have a big problem with me as long as I'm commissioner."
Stern said the league is both furious at what Van Gundy said and that he refuses to divulge the official he claims told him that referees "were looking at Yao harder because of Mark's complaints" to the league office.
"This is the first case I can remember when an allegation has been made and the perpetrator hasn't cooperated," Stern said. "At this time of year, there usually is a craziness in the land that has to do with referees as coaches jockey for position. This one, in our view, set a new low for that. That's why the fine is what it was and that's why the investigation is continuing."