Wednesday night’s NBA Finals game was a great one, but much of the talk the day after has been about the fan who pushed Kyle Lowry when he spilled into the stands going after a loose ball. This fan was later identified as Mark Stevens, a venture capitalist and a part of the Warriors’ ownership group. Many have called for the outright ban of Stevens due to his behavior.
The Warriors released a statement denouncing Stevens’ actions, and apologized on his behalf. The NBA has now released a statement with the Warriors announcing Stevens has been banned from all games for a year, and will be fined $500,000 for his misconduct.
This was an extremely important case for the league to get right. No fan should ever be in contact with a player the way Stevens was, because that’s a one-way ticket to another Malice at the Palace. But as a part-time owner, there was a huge precedent that would be set. He shouldn’t be treated as above the rules of the game, but it’s hard to treat him like just another fan, given his stake in the ownership group.
A complicated situation. Banning him for life would have set an enormous precedent, but many would argue it would be the right one. Just being an owner doesn’t give one the right to shove a player. The relationship between players and fans has come under a microscope this year after an altercation between Russell Westbrook and a fan in Utah. It’s a crucial dynamic to this league, and one that must be respectful on both sides. Stevens’ actions were deplorable, and he’ll give away a cool half mil for his troubles. It may not be enough for most, but at least it’s something.