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The largest fine handed down to a coach in NBA history

On this date in 2005, NBA fined Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy $100,000 -- the largest amount ever for a coach -- a day after accusing officials of targeting center Yao Ming during the Playoffs 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.

Van Gundy had drawn the record-setting fine and angered Stern for comments that the next day Stern labeled "a new low."

Van Gundy said May 1 that Mark Cuban had successfully pushed the league into instructing officials to watch Yao more closely.

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"He's been calling and calling about Yao," Van Gundy said that day. "You got to give the guy credit. He's taken a lot of fines in his time. He's been on them hard. He's gotten the benefit.

"Before Game 3, I got a call from another official in the NBA who's not in the playoffs that I've known forever and he told me they were looking at Yao harder because of Mark's complaints. It proved prophetic really the last couple of games. I didn't think that really worked in the NBA, but in this case, it has.

Stern later 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 and Van Gundy sorted out all the disagreement afterward and the coaching job for Rockets was his last one in the NBA. The injuries and disappointments continued for the Rockets into the following season, with Yao limited to just 48 games, and McGrady not fully recovered from his injuries. The Rockets went on a late-season run on the back of a resurgence from McGrady, but another first-round playoff loss, this time to the Utah Jazz, sealed Van Gundy's fate.


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