Rodman is fined pounds 32,000

Dennis Rodman, the wild man of the Chicago Bulls, has been fined $50,000 (pounds 32,000) for comments he made about Mormons during the NBA finals.

Rodman, who this season had already lost more than $1.2m in fines and docked pay through being suspended, was given double the previous largest fine in NBA history after saying that his poor display in the best-of- seven series was down to all the "asshole Mormons" in Utah.

The association stopped short of suspending the six-times NBA rebounding champion from last night's game in Chicago in which the Bulls, leading the Utah Jazz 3-2, could have clinched their fifth title in the last seven years.

"I have indicated in previous actions that insensitive or derogatory comments involving race or other classifications are unacceptable in the NBA," commissioner David Stern said. "Rodman's comments were exactly the kind of offensive remarks that cannot be tolerated."

Rodman, who is paid $9m a year, was contrite about his comments, but criticised the association. "As far as religion, it's not about trying to put down anybody's religion. I apologise for that," he said. "They [the NBA] have no reason, no business to even get involved." The Mormon church - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members make up 70 per cent of Utah's population - declined to comment.

During the week that the finals were in Salt Lake City - for games three, four and five - Rodman fled strait-laced Utah to party across the state line in Las Vegas for two nights in a row, saying he "wanted to get the hell out of here and relax".