The New York Knicks filed tampering charges against the Miami Heat on Thursday for comments by club executives interested in hiring Pat Riley.
Riley resigned as coach of the Knicks on June 15 with one year left on his contract after four seasons with the team.
Knicks president Dave Checketts said his team filed charges with NBA commissioner David Stern after reading newspaper quotes from Heat owner Micky Arison and Dave Wohl, the team’s executive vice president.
“This may be the most blatant example of tampering I have seen in 12 years in the NBA,” Checketts said. “Whether there were behind-the-scenes discussions or not, the Heat’s public statements, on their own, constitute tampering.”
“I feel very comfortable we haven’t tampered,” Wohl said in Friday’s editions of the Palm Beach Post. “But because I haven’t seen the statement or had a chance to sit with our attorneys, I won’t have any further comment.”
League officials were not immediately available for comment. Riley returned this week from Greece, where he had been vacationing and holding clinics in conjunction with the European Championships.
Riley, who sought greater autonomy in running the team, is exploring a breach of contract suit against the Knicks. The Knicks contend he sought part-ownership of the club, which Riley denies.
The maximum fine under NBA bylaws for tampering is $1 million.