OAKLAND (REUTERS) - Golden State Warriors minority investor Mark Stevens was banned from National Basketball Association games for one year and handed a US$500,000 ($682,000) fine for pushing and swearing at Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday (June 5).
The billionaire apologised after the league announced the punishment on Thursday.
"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 apologise to him and other members of the Raptors and Warriors organisations. I'm grateful to those who accepted my calls," he said.
"I hope that Mr Lowry and others impacted by this lapse in judgement understand that the behaviour 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."
The NBA also issued a statement critical of Stevens, then later announced that he is prohibited from attending games through the rest of this year's Finals plus all of the 2019-20 regular season and post-season.
"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 statement read.
The altercation between Stevens and Lowry occurred with about 101/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The Raptors won 123-109 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Lowry crashed into the courtside seats as he tried to keep a ball in bounds, and Stevens gave the player a push as he fell on top of the fans.
Stevens was ejected from the game.
In his post-game news conference, Lowry said Stevens also had choice words for him.
"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, and hopefully he never comes back to an NBA game."
Stevens is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and was a partner at Sequoia Capital, which invested in companies that include Google. He now owns S-Cubed Capital. He and his wife, Mary, are benefactors of his alma mater, the University of Southern California, and have given at least US$50 million to the school.
Forbes estimates his net worth at US$2.3 billion.
The Warriors also issued a statement saying: "Mr Stevens' behaviour last night did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organisation. We're extremely disappointed in his actions and, along with Mr Stevens, offer our sincere apology to Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors organisation for this unfortunate misconduct. There is no place for such interaction between fans - or anyone - and players at an NBA game."
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James addressed the issue on social media on Thursday before the punishment was announced.
"There's absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT ALL. There's so many issues here," he began his lengthy Instagram post. "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! A swift action for his actions. ..."