NBA officials banned a Golden State Warriors minority owner on Thursday after video showed him shoving a player on the sidelines during the game.
Mark Stevens, a venture capitalist, was sitting courtside during Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Wednesday when Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry dove into the sidelines to keep the ball from going out of bounds.
He was struggling to regain his balance when video showed Stevens gave him a shove to the left shoulder. Stevens was fined $500,000 and banned from attending games as well as Warriors team activities activities for a year, the NBA and Warriors teams officials said in a joint statement Wednesday.
Stevens was also accused of “directing obscene language toward” Lowry, according to the statement.
Lowry, who has been in the league for nearly 15 years, said Stevens directed a vulgar comment toward him “multiple times.”
Speaking to reporters during a post-game briefing, Lowry said it was tough for him to keep calm during the fallout, but thinking about his two young children helped him to maintain his composure.
“He had no reason to touch me. He had no reason to reach over two seats and then say some vulgar language to me," Lowry said after the game, which ended with the Raptors winning 123 to 109 over the Warriors to take a 2-1 series lead in the best of seven series.
“There’s no place for people like that in our league and, hopefully, he never comes back to an NBA game,” he added.
Members of the Golden State Warriors, including coach Steve Kerr and star point guard Steph Curry, had also expressed outrage ahead of the NBA’s decision to ban Stevens for a year.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James shared video of the incident on Instagram, calling for "swift action" from the league.
"There’s absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT ALL. There’s so many issues here," he said. "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."
He said NBA officials should be doing all they can to protect the players in stances like this one, noting that things could have escalated if Lowry had decided to retaliate.
"Just think to yourself, what if @kyle_lowry7 would have reacted and put his hands back on him. You guys would be going CRAZY," James said. "He knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside so for that Something needs to be done ASAP."
Curry said he didn’t witness the exchange in real time, but video of the incident clearly proved that Stevens was out of line.
"When you see the video it is pretty clear who was in the wrong," Curry told reporters after the game. "I just credit Kyle, it could have been a lot worse in terms of an altercation that should not have happened in the beginning. Kinda who Kyle is in terms of protecting himself, but doing it in a graceful way for sure."
"It's not my jurisdiction but I will, also, personally apologize to Kyle and the Raptors. That's unacceptable," Kerr added.
Stevens issued a public apology shortly after the NBA announced its decision Thursday night and attributed the incident to a “lapse in judgement.”
“What I did was wrong and there is no excuse for it,” he said in a statement after NBA’s announcement late Thursday. "I hope that Mr. Lowry and others impacted by this lapse in judgement understand that the behavior I demonstrated last night does not reflect the person I am or have been throughout my life."
He said he reached out to Lowry and the Toronto Raptors to apologize directly. “I’m grateful to those who accepted my calls," Stevens said. "I made a mistake and I’m truly sorry. I need to be better and look forward to making it right."