During the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Serge Ibaka blocked a Quinn Cook layup attempt and Kyle Lowry tried to chase down the loose ball, diving into the front row to do so and crashing into fans. Mark Stevens, a Warriors’ minority investor who was a couple of seats down from where Lowry landed, reached over and shoved Lowry, then Lowry said Stevens cursed at him.
Stevens was fined $500,000 and banned for one year, with talk from Andre Iguodala and others that the punishment would be more severe.
It wasn’t. With co-owner Joe Lacob having his back, Stevens will be back with the Warriors organization next season, reports Tim Kawakami at The Athletic.
Once this season ends (whenever the playoffs are over), Stevens will return to his full, active status as a Warriors stakeholder and will return to the team’s executive board, a team spokesman confirmed late last week. Despite reports to the contrary last summer (repeated and supported by Andre Iguodala), Stevens’ percentage was never bought out and he was never in line to be kicked out of the ownership group.
Stevens’ return will surely be controversial. But all indications are Joe Lacob, especially, is insistent Stevens, who owns somewhere between 2 to 10 percent of the team, had a momentary awful lapse in judgment and has paid the penalty and served the suspension without complaint. Stevens had no role with the team this season and was banned from Chase Center for any team activity.
Stevens apologized at the time. “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… I fully accept the punishment administered by the NBA and the Warriors,” he said in a statement last June.
Is this punishment enough? The Warriors think so, but you can bet players and others around the league will not see it that way.
Owners of a team should be held to a higher standard than an average fan — and if an average fan (one without money and connections) shoved a player during an NBA Finals game, that fan would be banned for life. No question. Stevens, however, is popular with the ownership group, so he gets another chance. Welcome to the way the world works.