Former NBA centre Mengke Bateer has been hit with the biggest fine in China's basketball history after he launched a profanity-laden tirade at a referee while playing a league game for the Beijing Ducks. The 2.11-metre Inner Mongolian 'was not calm and used insulting words' towards the match official in the fourth quarter of a game against Henan last month, according to a statement from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). He was fined 24,000 yuan and received a one-match suspension. It is not clear exactly what Mengke said to the referee, but he later proclaimed his innocence, saying: 'It is normal to communicate with the referee on the field. I think it is not necessary to make it such a big deal, but I respect the fine from the association. I don't think what I said was insulting. That is the way I talk to my friends.' Wang Du, the vice-director of the association, however, took a dim view of his conduct. 'Maybe he is used to speaking in this way but that does not necessarily mean that he is right,' he said. 'We all should have a basic moral standard. 'As an experienced player, his behaviour was not only bad for himself, but also bad for his team and the game.' The previous record fine was 10,000 yuan awarded against Shanghai's star point guard Liu Wei for kicking a player during the 2004-05 season, according to reports yesterday. The 30-year-old Mengke returned to the CBA last February and has since led the Ducks to the top of the league's north division, with 16 wins and three losses.