NBA Again Faces Fan Disruption Issue After Lowry Incident
The Warriors have banned team investor Mark Stevens "from the rest of the NBA Finals after he pushed" Raptors G Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals last night, according to Connor Letourneau of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The team in a statement apologized and are "investigating the incident between Stevens and Lowry." Stevens became an investor '13 when he took over the share "once held by current Sacramento Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive." Axios first reported that Stevens was the fan at the center of the incident (SFCHRONICLE.com, 6/6).
DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT: In S.F., Ron Kroichick noted the Warriors ejected Stevens from last night's game for pushing Lowry after Lowry "leaped into the courtside seats early in the fourth quarter" chasing a loose ball. Lowry was "lying on top of the fans, slowly trying to stand up and return to the court" when Stevens "reached over and pushed Lowry in the left arm." Referee Marc Davis "didn’t take any action," but Warriors VP/Communications Raymond Ridder said the team ejected Stevens soon thereafter (SFCHRONICLE.com, 6/5). Lowry said Stevens “reached over and put his hands on me for no reason." He added, "Then he said some vulgar words to me and repeated them repeatedly. In our league, there's no place for that. And honestly, I hope he's never allowed to come to an NBA game, because he shouldn't have done that." Lowry: "The fans have a place. We love our fans. But fans like that, they shouldn't be allowed to be in there, because it's not right, and I can't do nothing to protect myself" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/5). Lowry noted that the incident was "not like the high-profile episode" that involved Thunder G Russell Westbrook during a regular-season game against the Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. In that case, Westbrook said that the fan "made racist remarks" (AP, 6/6).
CROSSING THE LINE: ESPN's Jason Fitz said the NBA "has to do something" about fans injecting themselves into the action. He said, "When you have multiple fans that have now crossed that line, at some point the league owes it to their stars to make sure their stars are protected while they're at work" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 6/6). NBCSPORTS.com's Dan Feldman notes there has been "so much discussion this season of fan behavior, but it has largely focused on what fans say." Fans pushing players is "so far beyond the acceptable boundaries, there’s no need for a discussion" (NBCSPORTS.com, 6/6). USA TODAY's Andrew Joseph wrote the fan "may have paid $20,000 for his courtside seat, but that doesn’t give him the freedom to push players" (USATODAY.com, 6/5). ESPN's Jay Williams said, "There have to be boundaries, and (fans) have to understand you are part of the game, but you're not in the game." ESPN's Richard Jefferson noted the fan "could have affected the outcome of the NBA Finals" if Lowry had retaliated and then was ejected. He added the close proximity fans have to the court is what "makes our sport so great." Jefferson: "That's what helps the visibility of players, that's what helps the marketing of players. ... There needs to be some very, very strict guidelines" ("Get Up," ESPN, 6/6).
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED: ABC's Jeff Van Gundy during last night's broadcast of Game 3 seemed to side with the fan, noting he "got run into at 100 miles per hour" by Lowry. Van Gundy: "I'd be pushing him off too. ... What are you supposed to do, hug him?" ("Raptors-Warriors," ABC, 6/5).