OAKLAND (CBS SF/AP) — The NBA and the Golden State Warriors jointly banned one of the team’s minority owners from all games for one year and issued him a $500,000 fine Thursday after he was ejected from Game 3 of the NBA Finals after shoving Toronto’s Kyle Lowry.
Bay Area venture capitalist Mark Stevens shoved Lowry after the Toronto Raptors star crashed into a row of courtside seats while trying to save a ball from going out of bounds.
The joint statement said Stevens “has been banned from attending NBA games and Warriors team activities for one year and has been fined $500,000 for pushing and directing obscene language toward … Lowry.”
The team has issued a strongly worded statement earlier in the day condemning Stevens actions.
“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. “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 team added that “Stevens will not be in attendance at any of the remaining games of the 2019 NBA Finals. Review of this matter is ongoing.”
Late Thursday afternoon, Stevens issued his own statement of apology for the incident.
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. I hope that Mr. Lowry and others impacted by this lapse in judgement understand that the behavior I demonstrated last night does not reflect the person I am or have been throughout my life. I made a mistake and I’m truly sorry. I need to be better and look forward to making it right.
I fully accept the punishment administered by the NBA and the Warriors.
During his Thursday morning news conference, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he was going to deliver a personal apology before Game 4.
“I have not seen the play,” Kerr told reporters. “I didn’t see it last night. I saw the commotion afterwards. But I haven’t seen a replay. I didn’t even really know the story until this morning. I know our organization has put out a release and I will let the release speak for itself. I will also personally apologize to Kyle and to the Raptors. It’s unacceptable.”
NBA Executive Vice President for Communications Mike Bass echoed the Warriors sentiment, saying “the conduct of Golden State Warriors investor Mark Stevens last night was beyond unacceptable and has no place in our league.”
And Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said he just couldn’t remain silent on the matter.
“There’s absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT AL,” he posted on social media. “There’s so many issues here. When you sit courtside you absolutely know what comes with being on the floor and if you don’t know it’s on the back on the ticket itself that states the guidelines. But he himself being a fan but more importantly PART-OWNER of the Warriors knew exactly what he was doing which was so uncalled for. He knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside so for that Something needs to be done ASAP!”
“Just think to yourself, what if @kyle_lowry7 would have reacted and put his hands back on him,” James continued. “You guys would be going CRAZY!! Calling for him to damn near be put in jail let alone being suspended for the rest of the Finals all because he was protected himself. I’ve been quite throughout the whole NBA playoffs watching every game (haven’t missed one) but after I saw what I saw last night, took time to let it manifest into my thinking. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be quiet on this!”
Lowry scored 23 points and made several big shots in a 123-109 victory that gave the Raptors a 2-1 lead over Golden State. There was as much buzz after the game about Lowry’s dust-up with the fan as his offense.
He was visibly upset.
“There’s no place for that,” Lowry said. “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.”
“Hopefully, he never comes back to an NBA game,” Lowry said.
Lowry ran down a loose ball early in the fourth quarter and jumped in the air as it was going out of bounds, not far from where Warriors owner Joe Lacob was sitting. Lowry knocked the ball into a referee and landed in the lap of one male fan who appeared to grab Lowry’s jersey with two hands.
A female who was standing nearby patted the veteran guard on his back. At the same time, a man wearing a blue shirt who was sitting down extended his left arm and gave Lowry a hard shove in his left shoulder.
Lowry got up and complained to officials, although nothing further happened. He told The Associated Press the fan repeatedly cursed at him. He said had spoken to the NBA about the incident before leaving the arena.
He said the incident was not like the high-profile one that involved Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook in Utah during the regular season, when the Thunder guard said a fan made racist remarks.
“People who sit courtside, they might get in on the action,” Lowry said. “Don’t sit courtside if you don’t want somebody touching you.”
The incident overshadowed a breakout game for Lowry. He scored 15 points in the first half to get the Raptors going and finished 8 of 16 from the floor with five 3-pointers. Lowry also had nine assists and four rebounds.
“He controls a lot of the pace for them,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who had a career playoff-high 47 points. “He made shots tonight. Tip your cap to him. He was willing to take them. Historically when he plays well in the playoffs, they usually go.”