Basketball: Billionaire Warriors investor banned from games for year by NBA for shoving Toronto’s Kyle Lowry

Lowry yells at a fan in the second half against the Golden State Warriors on June 5, 2019.
Lowry yells at a fan in the second half against the Golden State Warriors on June 5, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - The NBA banned Golden State Warriors part-owner Mark Stevens from attending any league games or team activities for one year and fined him US$500,000 (S$680,000) after he pushed Toronto’s Kyle Lowry during a game on Wednesday night (June 5).

Stevens pushed and swore at Lowry after the player dived into the stands chasing a loose ball during Game 3 of the series in Oakland, California.

The billionaire venture-capital investor was ejected after the incident.

“Mr Stevens’ behaviour last night did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organisation,” the team 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.” 

The incident looked like an encounter with an ordinary fan, but news site Axios identified the man as Stevens on Thursday morning.

The billionaire was a partner at Sequoia Capital when the firm invested in the likes of Google, LinkedIn and PayPal.

He’s now managing partner at S-Cubed Capital, a family office in Menlo Park, California, though he has retained a role at Sequoia as a special limited partner.

Stevens’s ban will begin immediately and last through the 2019-2020 season.

“A team representative must be held to the highest possible standard,” Mike Bass, a spokesman for the league, said Thursday. Stevens’ conduct “was beyond unacceptable and has no place in our league.” 

Soaring Valuation

It’s unclear exactly when Stevens joined the Warriors as a minority owner. A group led by Joe Lacob purchased the team in 2010 for about US$450 million. The Warriors are now worth US$3.5 billion, third most in the league, according to Forbes.

The Raptors went on to win Wednesday’s game 123-109, giving them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Warriors are vying for their third-straight championship.

Lowry called for Stevens to be barred permanently from NBA games. In a press conference on Thursday in California, the player thanked the NBA and the Warriors for their initial statements but advocated for more. He added that Stevens told him to “go f*** yourself” multiple times.

“It’s not a good look for the ownership group that they have,” he said. 

“A guy like that, showing his true class, he shouldn’t be a part of our league. There’s no place for that.” 

LeBron James, the biggest star in the NBA, echoed those remarks earlier on Thursday.

Stevens “himself being a fan but more importantly PART-OWNER of the Warriors knew exactly what he was doing which was so uncalled for,” James said on Instagram. 

“He knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside so for that something needs to be done ASAP!”