Heat Are Off the Hook In Tampering Drama

[whistles, edges out of NBA owners' meeting]

All the furor over the Heat's recruitment of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade -- and their recruitment of each other -- is all for naught, at least for now.

"There is nothing here, at this time, that is causing us to launch an investigation," NBA Commisioner David Stern said Monday night at a press conference following an owners' meeting in Las Vegas, at which conversation on the subject was animated but no formal complaints were made.

"The three players are totally, as our system has evolved, within their rights to talk to each other," Stern said. "That is not tampering or collusion that is prohibited...Having negotiated for the right to be free agents at some point in their career, are totally within their rights to seek employment with any other team."

Whoa, common sense? But wait, there's more!

"Our teams are urged to compete," Stern said. "The teams go out and try to outhustle each other. Miami did a pretty good job of clearing out cap space and putting together a plan."

There we go. Just because Pat Riley hustled better than anyone in NBA history and the three have wanted to play together for years doesn't mean there was anything wrong with it.

And there probably was something wrong with it, if only because the NBA hardly ever functions in sunlight, retreating always to the shadows and smoky back-room deals and winks and nods and briefcases switched in train stations. But nothing wrong about the three going to the same place, which is all that matters to Miami -- were they found guilty of anything else, the resulting fines would be the happiest ever paid.

Janie Campbell is a Florida native who believes in the pro-set and ballpark hot dogs. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the internet.

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