OAKLAND, CALIF. – The fan who was ejected from his courtside seat at Oracle Arena after pushing Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night is a part owner of the Golden State Warriors.
Mark Stevens, a venture capitalist who joined the Warriors ownership group in 2013, was escorted away from his seat after the fourth-quarter incident that saw Lowry lunge into the courtside seats while chasing down a ball.
The Warriors released a statement Thursday saying it was “extremely disappointed” in Stevens’ actions, while adding he would not be in attendance for any of the remaining games in the series.
“Mr. Stevens’ behavior last night did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organization,” the statement read. “We’re extremely disappointed in his actions and, along with Mr. Stevens, offer our sincere apology to Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors organization for this unfortunate misconduct. There is no place for such interaction between fans — or anyone — and players at an NBA game.”
Axios first reported the fan was Stevens. A call to Stevens’ Menlo Park, Calif., office on Thursday afternoon went straight to voicemail.
“There’s no place for that,” Lowry said after Toronto’s 123-109 win. “He had no reason to touch me. He had no reason to reach over two seats and then say some vulgar language to me. There’s no place for people like that in our league, and hopefully he never comes back to an NBA game.”
The league has dealt with several issues of inappropriate fan interaction with players and coaches, including speaking with Toronto fan and global entertainment icon Drake after he gave Raptors coach Nick Nurse a quick shoulder rub earlier in the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz banished a fan for life in the regular season for his inappropriate comments to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in another high-profile incident.
“I think there’s always more we can do, and I think standards in society have changed in terms of what’s appropriate for people to say,” commissioner Adam Silver said in his state of the league address before Game 1 of the series. “As I’ve said before, I think there is a legitimate expectation that you buy your ticket, you go into an arena, I’m only searching for the right word, call it heckle, that people would say, yes, you’re allowed to yell and scream when a guy’s on the free-throw line or whatever else.
“But then there’s something else that we call it hate speech which is clearly impermissible. And I think the issue is, you know, if we just made a list, we know we wouldn’t capture everything, and there’s some aspect of you know it when you see it, and there’s also some words that otherwise aren’t incendiary, it’s the way they’re said or if they’re said in a threatening manner.”
Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps