A lot has happened since Raptors guard Kyle Lowry was shoved by a Warriors fan after falling into the seats during Game 3: Lowry was understandably angry; the fan got ejected; after the game Lowry said the fan had made “vulgar” comments to him; this morning, the fan was identified as Mark Stevens, a minority owner of the Warriors; the Warriors went into damage-control mode, saying Stevens would be would not be allowed to attend the rest of the NBA Finals; the NBA announced he was banned from all future NBA games as the “review of this matter” continues; the Warriors also said he had been barred from “team related activities.” Most importantly, though, LeBron James got involved:
If the Warriors had been planning to ride out the surge negative coverage and wait for everything to go back to normal, those plans will have to be changed. When LeBron James gets involved, nothing disappears. On Instagram, he wrote:
There’s absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT ALL. There’s so many issues here. 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. Just think to yourself, what if @kyle_lowry7 would have reacted and put his hands back on him. You guys would be going CRAZY!! Calling for him to damn near be put in jail let alone being suspended for the rest of the Finals all because he was protected himself. I’ve been quite throughout the whole NBA playoffs watching every game (haven’t missed one) but after I saw what I saw last night, took time to let it manifest into my thinking. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be quiet on this! #ProtectThePlayers#PrivilegeAintWelcomeHere
Under LeBron’s post, Isaiah Thomas wrote, “Make an example out of him.” Lou Williams wrote, “I’m with you on this one 100 percent.” On Twitter, Rudy Gay wrote, “Kyle would be suspended and fined If the roles where reversed.” Jared Dudley tweeted, “Rest of the finals isn’t good enough!”
NBA players have tremendous power and influence over their sport, and no one has more of either than LeBron James. Stevens might belong to the ownership class, but the players have the leverage in this situation. The ire Stevens has drawn from players, combined with a broader rise in scrutiny of the ways some NBA fans feel entitled to treat players, makes it unlikely that this story will just fade away on its own. At this point, the easiest thing for the Warriors to do is just buy the knob out of his shares.
Update (5:25 p.m. ET): The Warriors and NBA released a joint statement announcing that Stevens had been banned for one year and fined $500,000.