NBA bans Warriors part-owner Mark Stevens for 1 year for Kyle Lowry incident
The league announced Thursday afternoon that Stevens will be banned from attending games and Warriors activities for one year and has been fined $500,000.
Axios was the first outlet to identify Stevens, who pushed Lowry from two seats away as the All-Star careened into the front row of the Oracle Arena crowd in the fourth quarter of Toronto’s 123-109 victory on Wednesday night. Lowry, who was attempting to save a block by teammate Serge Ibaka from going out of bounds, confronted Stevens and could be seen complaining to officials about the incident.
Toronto Star sports columnist Bruce Arthur confirmed the Axios report, adding that a source informed him that Stevens told Lowry multiple times, “Go f- - - - yourself.”
That was before the fan was identified as Stevens, who joined Golden State’s ownership group when Vivek Ranadive sold his equity in the team to purchase the Sacramento Kings in August 2013. In a press release from 2013, Stevens was described as a longtime Silicon Valley venture capitalist, a board member for both the University of Southern California and Harvard Business School’s California Research Center, and a part-time lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“Mr. Stevens’ behavior last night did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organization,” the Warriors said in a statement on Thursday. “We’re extremely disappointed in his actions and, along with Mr. Stevens, offer our sincere apology to Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors organization for this unfortunate misconduct. There is no place for such interaction between fans — or anyone — and players at an NBA game.”
The Warriors barred Stevens from attending the remaining Finals games, and the league took it one step fewer, suspending Stevens indefinitely from NBA games. Stevens has also been suspended indefinitely from all team activities, according to multiple reports. Both the team and the league are still investigating the matter.
“I will also personally apologize to Kyle and the Raptors,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters at Thursday’s media availability. “That’s unacceptable.”
“There's no place for that,” Lowry told reporters when asked about the encounter after the game. “He had no reason to touch me. He had no reason to reach over two seats and then say some vulgar language to me. There's no place for people like that in our league, and hopefully he never comes back to an NBA game.”
Calls for curbing fan behavior have increased significantly this season after a highly publicized confrontation between Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook and a fan of the Utah Jazz. Two fans were issued lifetime bans as a result. The Boston Celtics also suspended a fan for two seasons after Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins reported an attendee’s alleged racist language.
“A team representative must be held to the highest possible standard and the conduct of Golden State Warriors investor Mark Stevens last night was beyond unacceptable and has no place in our league,” NBA executive vice president Mike Bass said in a statement announcing the indefinite suspension.
The NBA reportedly issued a league-wide memo calling on teams to create public-service announcements that stressed the “importance of respect and civility” among fans. That a team owner crossed the line on national television in a Finals game is of grave concern to a league that counts player safety as a top priority.
“There’s absolutely no place in our beautiful game for that at all,” Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said of Stevens’ behavior in an Instagram post on Thursday. James called for swift disciplinary action from the league. He also took to Twitter to say the ban from the few Finals games left was not punishment enough.
"We are closely monitoring both the Warriors' and the league's continued investigation into this matter and anxiously await their conclusions and response,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said in a statement. “The NBPA has previously expressed its support of a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy with respect to verbal and/or physical assaults perpetrated against players. Stevens' status as a member of the ownership group does not alter that view."
Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, the first vice president of the players’ union, also addressed the incident with reporters at Thursday’s Finals media availability.
“I hope it gets handle the right way,” said Iguodala, “and I’ll leave it at that.”