Warriors Minority Owner Barred for a Year After Shoving Toronto’s Kyle Lowry Express News
OAKLAND, Calif. — Mark Stevens, a minority investor in the Golden State Warriors, has been barred by the N.B.A. and the Warriors for a year and fined $500,000 for “pushing and directing obscene language” at Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors. Stevens will not be allowed to attend games or other team activities.
The incident occurred early in the fourth quarter of the Raptors’ Game 3 win over the Warriors on Wednesday night after Lowry was shoved on the left shoulder by Stevens after diving into courtside seats to try to save a loose ball.
The league announced the punishment on Thursday shortly after Lowry told reporters that Stevens “shouldn’t be part of our league.”
The ban is effective immediately and will last through the 2019-20 postseason, according to a joint statement from the league and the Warriors.
“The ownership that they have that I know, they’re unbelievable guys,” Lowry said of the Warriors. “But a guy like that, showing his true class, he shouldn’t be a part of our league. There’s just no place for that.”
Lowry said Stevens had cursed at him “multiple times” after the shove. He described the support he received in the aftermath of the incident — most notably from LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers — as “unbelievable.”
At the time Lowry spoke with reporters, only an indefinite suspension of Stevens had been announced. “I think more should be done,” Lowry said, expounding on his call shortly after Wednesday’s game for Stevens to be barred from games “forever.”
“He’s not a good look for the ownership group that they have,” said Lowry, who had 23 points and nine assists on Wednesday as the Raptors took a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series.
Also on Thursday, Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said he would “personally apologize to Kyle and the Raptors,” and he called Stevens’s behavior “unacceptable,” echoing a message from the league.
“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,” Mike Bass, the N.B.A.’s executive vice president for communications, said in a statement Thursday before Stevens’ ultimate penalties were announced.
Stevens issued a statement on Thursday that said: “I take full responsibility for my actions last night at the NBA Finals and am embarrassed by what transpired. What I did was wrong and there is no excuse for it. Mr. Lowry deserves better, and I have reached out today in an attempt to directly apologize to him and other members of the Raptors and Warriors organizations. I’m grateful to those who accepted my calls.”
Stevens also said in the statement that he accepted his punishment, which was one of the harshest levied by N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver in his five-year tenure.
In his first year as commissioner, Silver issued a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine to Donald Sterling, then the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, after Sterling was recorded making racist comments. Sterling was forced to sell the team.
In September, shortly before the start of this season, a seven-month investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and other improper workplace conduct against the Dallas Mavericks led to a pledge by Mark Cuban, the team owner, to donate $10 million to women’s organizations.
Several players have been fined through the years for negative interactions with fans, such as cursing or yelling in response to taunts. Several fans have been banned for racist remarks and other inappropriate behavior toward players.
“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 Thursday morning after Stevens was identified as the spectator who had pushed Lowry.
“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 N.B.A. game.”
At his annual state-of-the-league news conference before the finals began, Silver said the league had redoubled its efforts to better regulate fan conduct.
“We have had lots of conversations directly with the players association, the players, because absolutely we want them to feel that they’re in a safe environment,” Silver said, “and we don’t want them to be distracted during the game or think that they have to take matters into their own hand.”
In a statement on Thursday, Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, said: “The N.B.P.A. has previously expressed its support of a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy with respect to verbal and/or physical assaults perpetrated against players. Stevens’s status as a member of the ownership group does not alter that view.”
According to a biography on the website of his family office, S-Cubed Capital, Stevens was a longtime partner with Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital firms. Before Sequoia, Stevens worked at Intel.
At Sequoia, Stevens became involved with numerous well-known companies, before leaving his full-time position there in 2012 to become a limited partner. Forbes recently estimated Stevens’s fortune at $2.3 billion.
He has been a board member at the University of Southern California and on the dean’s advisory board at Harvard Business School. “Mark is also a minority owner and executive board member of the Golden State Warriors, as well as a trustee of the United States Olympic Committee Foundation,” his biography states.
Stevens was ejected from Wednesday’s game after Lowry complained to game officials.
“In that situation, I don’t think I could have handled it any better,” Lowry said. “I’m glad I did what I did, and I understand that things could have been a lot different if I reacted a different way or if I did something or put my hands on him or anything of that nature.”
Matthew Futterman contributed reporting from New York.