The fan who shoved Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in a courtside exchange Wednesday during Game 3 of the NBA Finals was Golden State Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens.
On Thursday, the league fined Stevens $500,000 and banned him for one year. The ban, effective immediately, includes the 2019-20 season and postseason, as well as all Warriors team activities.
“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,” the league said in prepared remarks. “As the review of this matter continues, Mr. Stevens will not be permitted to attend NBA games.”
The Warriors confirmed Stevens’ involvement in the incident Thursday after a report from Axios identified him as the culprit. The team said Stevens will not attend any of the remaining games in the finals and review of this matter is ongoing.
“Mr. Stevens’ behavior last night did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organization,” the Warriors said in a written 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.”
Stevens, 59, is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist. According to Axios, he joined the Warriors ownership group in 2013, when Vivek Ranadive bought a stake in the Kings and was forced to divest his share of the Warriors.
The altercation occurred after Lowry fell into the front row while hustling for a loose ball in the second half of Wednesday’s game at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Lowry collided with a fan sitting two seats left of Stevens. Before Lowry could get to his feet, Stevens pushed him and uttered “a couple vulgar words to me,” Lowry said.
Stevens was escorted out of the arena by security following the exchange.
“There’s no place for that,” Lowry told reporters in Oakland after the game. “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.”
Stevens, in a statement Thursday night, apologized and said he accepted the punishment handed down by the team and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“I take full responsibility for my actions last night at the NBA Finals and am embarrassed by what transpired,” he said. “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 judgment 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.”