Micky Arison might have become the most popular owner among NBA players on Monday when NBA Commissioner David Stern fined him for criticizing other league owners.
Yahoo! Sports reported Monday that Arison was slapped with a $500,000 fine for comments made on Friday critical of his fellow NBA owners regarding the ongoing NBA lockout.
On Friday night an NBA fan asked Arison on Twitter, "How does it feel to be a part of ruining the best game in the world? NBA owners/players don't give a damn about fans ... Fans provide all the money you're fighting over ... you greedy pigs." Arison replied with a simple retort: "Honestly u r barking at the wrong owner."
Though he quickly thought better of the comment and deleted the tweet, it spread rapidly on Friday night, and the league office apparently took notice.
That was not Arison's only swipe at other owners. One Twitter user asked him what he thought of notorious LA Clippers owner Donald Serling, and Arison shot back, "lol." He deleted that tweet, too.
Recent reports from the lockout negotiations have suggested that Arison, along with a few other owners of large-market teams, have been pushing the league to make a deal with the NBA Players' Association, against the wishes of small-market owners who have taken a hard line in negotiations.
Arison's comments suggest he is part of the faction seeking a swift conclusion to the lockout. The Heat had the fifth-highest home attendance last season, as well as the highest road attendance, so it is no surprise that Arison is upset that a month of the 2011-2012 season has already been canceled due to the lockout.
Under league rules, no league officials (including owners) are allowed to comment on particulars of the lockout. Stern clearly wants to send a message to his owners, and that message is no one owner is big enough to break ranks while the lockout remains unresolved.
But Arison is worth billions, so even a half-million dollars in fines amounts to little more than a slap on the wrist. If anything, the suggests that the owners are more divided than they have let on, potentially providing the players with a little more leverage as negotiations continue.
It could also give the Heat some extra goodwill after the lockout ends with potential free agent targets. One Heat beat writer has already suggested that Arison's fine earned him some brownie points with non-Heat players.