The Cleveland Cavaliers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to finance an investigation into suspicions that the Miami Heat broke anti-tampering rules while pursuing superstar LeBron James while he was still under contract with Cleveland, Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday.
The Midwest law firm, which was not named in the report, is believed to have on its staff several former prosecutors with experience in building cases.
The report comes just one day before James’ highly anticipated return to Cleveland, where he will face his former team for the first time.
On Tuesday, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who was highly critical of James following the superstar’s televised announcement in July, was asked about his emotions heading into the reunion with the two-time league MVP.
"I’m over it," he said. "I really am. That’s the truth. I let it all out in about 24 hours. I just think we have such a great core and a great coaching staff. We have a lot of opportunities with the trade exception and the draft. I feel good about this team."
Team spokesman Tad Carper said Wednesday night the Cavaliers are declining comment on the Yahoo! report, which citing anonymous league sources, says Gilbert plans to present NBA commissioner David Stern with a detailed case with the hopes of launching a tampering investigation.
Gilbert is going one step further than necessary, since the NBA will look into tampering allegations if it is formally requested by a team. The NBA could ask the Heat to provide phone records and testimony in order to determine when the team’s contact with James started.
Teams were not allowed to contact James before the July 1 start of free agency.
Top Heat executive Pat Riley allegedly met with James in Miami in Nov. 2009 and representatives for James allegedly met with Heat guard Dwyane Wade in Chicago in June of 2010.
If a franchise is found guilty of tampering with another team’s player, the NBA can levy fines, suspend front office executives, and, or, take away draft picks.
Riley, James, Wade and forward Chris Bosh, who also signed with Miami in July, have denied that there was a predetermined plan before the start of free agency. But the players have also admitted that they discussed the possibility of playing on the same team during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Gilbert is expected to be in his usual baseline seat next to the Cavaliers bench, where he’ll have an up-close view of what promises to be a memorable event.