Biggest NBA Fines: Following Tuesday night’s defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, head coach Darko Rajakovic of the Toronto Raptors unleashed a furious tirade directed at the referees for the disparity in free throw accuracy, which resulted in 23 Lakers free throws to Toronto’s two in the fourth quarter. We are fully aware that any kind of criticism directed against officials would result in a financial setback for Rajakovic and a severe censure from the league headquarters.
Although it’s unclear how much Rajakovic would be fined, it made me consider some of the biggest NBA fines in history and whether or not he will end up on that list. Rajakovic went on a tirade that went viral very rapidly on social media, which made me think that his passionate outburst would come at a high cost. It can’t be larger than any of these even with that notion, right?
So, in this article, we’ll discuss the biggest NBA fines in history.
Listing The Top 12 Biggest NBA Fines Ever
Check out the top 12 biggest NBA fines in the history below:
1. Robert Sarver – $10 Million
The NBA opened an inquiry into the allegations when ESPN published a story in November 2021 on Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver’s alleged improper behaviour at work. At the end of the inquiry, Sarver was found to have engaged in sexual harassment, severe racism, and general denigration of his staff.
Sarver received a one-year suspension and the biggest fines in NBA history—$10 million—as payment for his horrific actions. Not only was it the largest fine ever, but it was also the maximum amount that, at the time, an individual could be penalised under NBA regulations.
Sarver made the almost $billion sale of his full ownership in the Suns and the WNBA’s Mercury just one month after the sentence was imposed. It’s reasonable to assume that the humiliated owner had an easy time paying the largest fine in NBA history.
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2. Minnesota Timberwolves – $3.5 Million
The Minnesota Timberwolves were trying to assemble a competitive team around superstar Kevin Garnett in 2000. In order to do this, the team and its management tried to circumvent the CBA’s regulations by signing former first-overall selection Joe Smith to a minimum contract with the option of an eventual larger and more lucrative deal.
This arrangement was very unlawful, even though it appeared to be quite clever. When the NBA found out about it, they issued the biggest fines in NBA history at that moment on the Timberwolves valued at $2.5 million. After the fine was issued, the Timberwolves would lose in the opening round of the playoffs each year from 2000 to 2003, and they would only go to the Western Conference Finals in 2004.
The squad has one of the worst decisions in NBA history and is still without an NBA championship.
3. Donald Sterling – $2.5 Million
A tape of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling having a private discussion with his lover was released back in 2014, which caused controversy to rock the NBA. The Clippers players nearly walked out of the conversation once it was revealed that Sterling was being exceedingly racist and disparaging towards African Americans.
Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, fined Sterling $2.5 million and banned him from the league for life shortly after the tapes were made public. Not long after Sterling was given his sanctions, his divorced wife Shelly assumed control of their family trust and sold the team to current owner Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
Even though Sterling challenged the sale in court, his wife won the case, and the transaction went through. In 2016, Sterling opted not to pursue the lawsuit and is still involved in the Los Angeles real estate market.
4. Mark Cuban – $750,000
Frequently appearing on this list is none other than Mark Cuban, who is one of the NBA’s wealthiest owners. The Mavericks made the secret decision to forfeit their final two regular-season games in order to retain their 2023 first-round draft selection during the 2022–2023 campaign. With two games remaining in the season, the Mavericks hit the floor against the Bulls, resting many of their great players and using superstar Luka Doncic for barely a quarter of the match.
The squad rested even more players in their season finale and lost again. Having retained their 10th overall choice in the NBA Draft, the Mavericks were spared from competing for a position in the play-in tournament.
The NBA opened an inquiry into the Mavericks’ behaviour when Jason Kidd and a few other players made public remarks about the matter, even though several other teams were clearly engaging in similar behaviour all season long.
The inquiry revealed that sitting down elite players when there was still a chance for a postseason berth and their remarks were detrimental to the league, leading to a $750,000 punishment.
5. Mark Cuban – $600,000
Just in time, Mark Cuban makes his second straight appearance on our list because to his careless conduct back in 2018. When Cuban told players over dinner that “losing is our best option,” it was viewed as a negative statement about the NBA. This was spoken on an episode of Julius Erving’s podcast.
Cuban even made mention to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during his speech, saying, “Adam isn’t going to like this.” Cuban admitted to ordering his club to lose games in order to receive a higher draft choice, which infuriated Silver, who fined Cuban $600,000.
Perhaps it was all worthwhile in the end since Dallas managed to trade up in the draft to acquire Slovenian talent Luka Doncic.
6. Denver Nuggets And New York Knicks – $500,000
The New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets played each other in what appeared to be a typical regular season game at Madison Square Garden back in December of 2006. J.R. Smith of the Nuggets goes up for a transition layup in the fourth quarter in a blowout victory for Denver. Knicks centre Mardy Collins would foul Smith extremely hard, sending him tumbling to the court.
Smith took a direct shot at Collins as he stood up, prompting a response from Carmelo Anthony of Denver and Nate Robinson of New York. It took a long time to disperse the melee as a huge brawl erupted like wildfire. Ultimately, each team was fined $500,000. Seven players were banned for a total of 47 games.
Although the punishments appear severe at this point, the NBA had an opportunity to set an example given how soon after the notorious “Malice at the Palace” event this happened.
7. Vladimir Radmanovic – $500,000
Former NBA veteran Vladamir Radmanovic spent 12 seasons as a player for seven different clubs. While playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007, Radmanovic made the decision to travel to Utah for some downtime, which included skiing and snowboarding. However, the specifics of this vacation were not made public until after what transpired.
Radmanovic’s tour ended tragically when he suffered a separated shoulder while snowboarding in Utah. Instead of falling on the slopes as it turned out, Radmanovic told the team that he was injured when he slipped and fell on the ice. He eventually confessed and was discovered to have broken the terms of the agreement.
The NBA’s stringent regulations, which forbid players from engaging in specific activities during their spare time, resulted in Radmanovic’s $500,000 fine and his trade from the Lakers the next season.
8. Micky Arison – $250,000
After their CBA expired in 2011, the NBA went into lockout. Owners and NBA executives exchanged proposals during this tense period of time, which both sides viewed as insulting. Due of this, NBA executives were referred to by Miami Heat owner Micky Arison as “greedy bastards” who made “stupid decisions.”
The internet is unstoppable, and screenshots of Arison’s searing message went viral despite the tweets being quickly removed. The NBA chose to punish him by fining him $250,000 in order to make a point about it.
9. Damon Stoudamire – $250,000
Star point guard Damon Stoudamire reached the pinnacle of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2003–04 season. But Stoudamire would be arrested three times in the course of the year for both having and using marijuana. The charges were extremely alarming for the NBA and David Stern, who had spent a great deal of time trying to repair the NBA’s reputation after its drug-related scandal in the 1970s and 1980s.
The league made the decision to punish Stoudamire severely by taking advantage of his most vulnerable spot—his pocketbook. In addition to the sanctions imposed by the league, the Trail Blazers suspended the point guard and urged him to get treatment for his problems. Stoudamire’s conduct would cause him to miss 23 games.
10. Latrell Sprewell $250,000
Latrell Sprewell is no stranger to the NBA’s fines and penalties. This is, after all, the same guy who, while with the Warriors, was given one of the longest suspensions ever for choking his coach during practice. When Sprewell was still a member of the Knicks in 1998–1999, he made another snap choice that reduced his playing time.
Sprewell did not reveal that he had suffered a fractured hand earlier in the offseason before the Knicks season. Rather, he persevered on the court until the agony became intolerable, at which point he disclosed his injuries. The Knicks were understandably furious with Sprewell once he came clean.
11. San Antonio Spurs
In the NBA, load management has always been practised, at least in part, as long as I can recall. Even though it’s more scrutinised than ever before these days, one incident in 2012 gained notoriety for what happened and how the NBA handled it.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made the decision to rest his starting lineup, which included Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green, during a game against the Miami Heat during the regular season. The decision created headlines since it was the first time in a long time that a club had openly rested one of its best players.
Then, dissatisfied with the action, Commissioner David Stern chose to use the Spurs as an example to try and discourage other clubs from using the same strategy. Citing the action as a disservice to the NBA and its supporters, he penalised the organisation $250,000 for it.
12. Portland Trail Blazers – $250,000
The NBA has always had stringent policies when it comes to engaging with collegiate athletes. Before they become eligible for the NBA Draft, prospective professional prospects who are still in college are not allowed to communicate with each other in any way. Players who were ready for the pros stayed in college longer in 1984 since there was no one-and-done policy in place at the time.
Despite this, the Portland Trail Blazers, who had the second overall choice that season, continued to pursue unwise deals with Patrick Ewing of Georgetown and Hakeem Olajuwon of the University of Houston. Although teams often get around this old-fashioned tactic in the present day, the NBA fined Portland $250,000 for a similar infraction that occurred in the 1980s.
These are the Top 12 biggest NBA fines ever. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.