Mark Stevens thought his courtside privileges included assaulting opposing players.
It’s sad that Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry had to deal with being shoved in the shoulder by an out of line fan in the front row at Oracle Arena during Toronto’s 123-109, Game 3 drubbing of Golden State.
It’s even more troubling that the person who assaulted Lowry for diving into the stands is none other than Golden State Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, a billionaire investor who joined the ownership team in 2013.
Yes, one of those older, rich, white venture capitalists, who see things differently from most. To many like him, players are mere cattle in his billion-dollar existence. How dare Kyle Lowry make Mr. Rich White Guy spill his beer? That’s like the “inmates running the prison,” in the ridiculous words of one NFL owner.
But the Warriors wasted no time in reacting to the situation, banning Stevens for the remainder of the Finals.
“Mr. Stevens’ behavior last night did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organization,” said the Warriors in a statement. “There is no place for such interaction between fans—or anyone—and players at an NBA game. Mr. Stevens will not be in attendance at any of the remaining games of the 2019 NBA Finals.”
At least the team did the right thing and punished him swiftly; although it doesn’t necessarily mean much considering how much time is left in the season. But the way he represented the Warriors was a terrible optic for the league and the franchise and they had to do something.
People wonder why the fans are getting more boisterous and willing to confront players. Well, look no further than the owners of these teams, who exhibit elitist and obnoxious behavior that disrespects the game.
Lowry gets much respect for keeping his composure, but we can’t have ownership showing less stadium decorum than the average drunken fan. No player expects to be assaulted during a game, especially not by a respected team owner during a hustle play. If anyone should respect hustle, it’s the minority owner of the two-time defending champs.
Lowry complained to the refs and eventually justice was served. Probably not as quickly as it should have been, but that’s another story for another day. He also responded with the most clutch playoff game of his career, scoring 23 points and hitting crucial daggers to squash Golden State rallies, so he’s getting the last laugh with his team up 2-1.
After the game, Lowry asked for Stevens to be banned for life.
That’s going to be a long shot because we know that white owners get treated differently than men of color who commit lesser infractions. Hopefully, the embarrassment of the situation and the humiliation Stevens has put his family and the Warriors through will be enough to satisfy the situation for now.
However, I can’t honestly say that the punishment will deter other “fans” or employees or owners from thinking that they can take pot shots at players with minimum repercussions.
In a sick way, it reflects the attitudes that white cops have continuously displayed towards unarmed black men. I’m sure the NBA, which prides itself on being the most racially inclusive league doesn’t want those problems.