OAKLAND — The NBA came down hard on Mark Stevens, the venture capitalist and Golden State Warriors investor who shoved and cursed at Toronto’s Kyle Lowry after he went into the first row for a loose ball:
A one-year ban from all NBA teams and team activities, plus a $500,000 fine.
But is that hard enough? For a team representative who should know better, should the punishment have been even stiffer? A lifetime ban?
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver explained the logic behind the league’s decision:
He said that Stevens was contrite and did not have a blemish on his record in the past, that led the league to think a one year ban and hefty fine were fair.
Players — both in the Finals and watching at home — were very adamant in wanting to see the league come down hard on Stevens, in part because if a player did this to a fan in the front row the league would not have held back with the punishment.
Kyle Lowry knew what he wanted the league to do:
“What I feel is a guy like that shouldn’t be a part of our league,” Lowry said. “Being honest with you. That’s my personal opinion. That’s just how I feel. We have had situations like this before and the league has done the right thing. That’s protecting the players and protecting the image of the league.”
The league didn’t go that far. Did they go far enough?
Players, such as Toronto’s Danny Green, as well as the players’ union executive director Michelle Roberts, said they would be watching to make sure the league did not go easy here.
“It doesn’t seem right or fair to let the fans be able to react, or jump on the court, or be in a players’ face, or say certain things, because if we say it we get fined,” Toronto’s Green said.
“We have to do a better job, the NBA, just of making sure these fans don’t come in and think they can just touch guys and hit them,” Kawhi Leonard said. “That’s a little extreme. All the name calling and things like that is okay, other than disrespecting your family, talking about us, but other than putting your hands on someone, that’s disrespectful.”