The NBA will not permit Golden State Warriors investor Mark Stevens to attend any games after the team executive shoved Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowryduring Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena, the league announced Thursday.
“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 a statement. “As the review of this matter continues, Mr. Stevens will not be permitted to attend NBA games.”
Stevens, who was seated courtside Wednesday night, was ejected early in the fourth quarter for shoving Lowry after the guard crashed into a row of seats while trying to save a ball from going out of bounds.
“Mr. Stevens’ behavior last night did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organization,” the Warriors said in the 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.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Thursday said he saw the “commotion” during Game 3 — but hasn’t seen the actual shove — and would personally apologize to Lowry and the Raptors.
“That’s unacceptable,” Kerr said of Stevens’ actions.
Stevens, who is listed as a member of the Warriors’ executive board in the team’s media guide, will not attend any of the remaining NBA Finals games. The Warriors and the NBA said a review of the incident is ongoing, and Stevens could face sanctions from both because he is a team executive.
Toronto leads the best-of-seven series 2-1 after the Raptors’ 123-109 victory on Wednesday. The Warriors host Game 4 on Friday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
The incident, which happened not far from where Warriors owner Joe Lacob was sitting, occurred when Lowry, who was chasing a loose ball, 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 woman who was standing nearby patted Lowry on his back. At the same time, Stevens, who was sitting down, extended his left arm and gave Lowry a hard shove to his left shoulder.
Lowry got up and complained to officials, who ejected Stevens from the game. Lowry told The Associated Press that Stevens repeatedly cursed at him, and Lowry said he had spoken to the NBA about the incident before exiting Oracle Arena.
“There’s no place for that,” Lowry told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt 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. Hopefully, he never comes back to an NBA game.”
Warriors star Stephen Curry said the incident could have been “a lot worse” and that Lowry deserves credit for handling the situation appropriately.
“Obviously, an unfortunate situation all around,” Curry said Thursday. “Credit Kyle for the way he handled it. Lot of different reactions you could have had. He handled it correctly.
“… You don’t want to see that in our game. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen. I don’t think it is a reflection of how we handle business here. As a Warriors organization, franchise, we have a high standard and do things with class and professionalism. I know Mark is apologetic and whatnot, but we’ll handle that situation.”
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who watched the game on television, said Thursday on Instagram that he “couldn’t and wouldn’t be quiet about this” and that Stevens “knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside.”
The NBPA issued a statement saying it is monitoring investigations by both the league and the Warriors and “anxiously await” a resolution.
“The NBPA has previously expressed its support of a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ with respect to verbal and/or physical assaults perpetrated against players,” executive director Michele Roberts said in the statement. “Stevens’ status as a member of the ownership group does not alter that view.”
Stevens was a partner with Lacob as a venture capitalist at Sequoia Capital, which helped finance companies such as Google and PayPal. It’s unclear how large his ownership stake in the Warriors is.
After the game, before Stevens was identified as the man who pushed him, Lowry said he should be banned “forever” from NBA games.
“The fans have a place; we love our fans,” Lowry said. “But fans like that shouldn’t be allowed to be in there, because it’s not right. I can’t do nothing to protect myself. But the league does a good job, and hopefully they ban him from all NBA games forever.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.