Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 65

Franchises

There has been no official word on whether Stevens (center, dark blue shirt) will have to sell his shares
Photo: NBAE/getty images

Warriors investor Mark Stevens will "likely be forced to sell his shares" in the team before the start of the '19-20 NBA season after the league levied a one-year ban for his incident with the Raptors' Kyle Lowry on Wednesday, according to sources cited by NBC News' Dylan Byers (TWITTER.com, 6/6). In San Jose, Mark Medina notes the Warriors, after Stevens' suspension was announced, "have not said if they will force Stevens to sell his shares in the team." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday "had nothing to offer on that front" (MERCURYNEWS, 6/6). USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt notes Silver did "not think a lifetime ban was required nor did he feel it was necessary to take steps to force Stevens to divest his shares of the Warriors." Silver does "not have the power to remove an owner." That "requires 75% of the league's 30 governors (one from each team) to force an owner to sell." It is "not known if the Warriors' ownership structures allows Golden State to force Stevens to sell his shares" (USA TODAY, 6/7). Lowry yesterday before Stevens' ban was announced "intimated that he wanted to see Stevens’ ownership stake revoked." Lowry said, "He’s not a good look for the ownership group that they have. I know Joe Lacob. Those guys are great guys, the ownership that they have, I know they’re unbelievable guys. With a guy like that showing his true class, he shouldn’t be a part of our league." The Warriors in a statement said Stevens’ behavior "did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organization" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/7).

THE END IS NEAR? The GLOBE & MAIL's Cathal Kelly writes regardless of Stevens' suspension, it is "hard to see how he can continue as an investor after this" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/7). In S.F., Ann Killion in a front-page piece writes, "The Warriors hold themselves to high standards. How can Stevens remain a part owner of this team?" NBA players, "trying to do their job and provide global entertainment at the same time, do not deserve to be under attack." Killon: "Not from average fans. Not from rap stars. And certainly not from billionaire owners" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/7). USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes Stevens' one-year ban "isn't enough." It "shouldn’t be enough for the Warriors, who have held themselves up as a model NBA organization but will come out of this series looking like clownish hypocrites if they don’t actively pressure Stevens to sell his stake in the team" (USATODAY.com, 6/6). SI.com's Rohan Nadkarni wrote the Warriors "quietly shoving Stevens out the door in a few months wouldn’t really be impactful." The NBA "should not only publicly pressure Stevens to sell, it should shame him so thoroughly and demand he donates a portion (if not all) of the proceeds to a charity of Lowry’s choice" (SI.com, 6/6). THE ATHLETIC's Tim Kawakami wondered if Stevens "ever returns to a position with the Warriors after crossing the line so recklessly in the NBA Finals, how can anybody trust the Warriors organization to accurately judge a single other employee or ownership member?" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/6).

PLAYERS' OPINION: ESPN's Brian Windhorst said the players want Stevens to be "forced to sell his shares to the team," and they "don't ever want to see him on the sidelines again." They "don't want him to be involved in the NBA." Windhorst: "This is always sensitive, and the NBA is extraordinarily sensitive in paying attention to it right now because the players have never had more power or flexed their muscles more" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/7).

TRYING TO MOVE ON: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee writes what Stevens "doesn't deserve is to have his investment ripped out of his hands for a galactically stupid but ultimately minor act during a single game." Running the "outrage motor to redline at every transgression ... obliterates the distinction between momentary jackassery and truly disgusting patterns of behavior." Steven's actions, "while classless, aren't even in the same galaxy as, say, Donald Sterling" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/7). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt said the calls for a life ban are "ridiculous." Van Pelt: "We are really bad at figuring out punishment on the fly these days. It goes like this: 'What's the worst punishment there can be? Okay, well it has to be that.'" He added there is "zero room for any punishment that satisfies other than the equivalent of the death penalty. Somebody screws up and the mob wants blood" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/7). ESPN's Dan Le Batard also said a life ban "sounds excessive" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 6/6).

Silver insisted that the ruling did not mean the NBA was currying favor with an investor
Photo: NBAE/getty images

Warriors investor Mark Stevens has been "banned for a year from attending NBA games and team activities" after his incident with Raptors G Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals, according to Connor Letourneau of the S.F. CHRONICLE. This means Stevens, who also has been fined $500,000, "can't take part" in the Warriors' debut season at Chase Center. Asked why the league had not banned Stevens for life, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, "Ultimately, we felt that given how contrite Mr. Stevens was, the fact that he was extraordinarily apologetic, the fact that he had no blemishes on his prior involvement with the Warriors and the NBA, that a one-year ban seemed appropriate together with the fine." Letourneau notes Stevens became an investor in '13, "taking over the share once held" by Kings Owner & Chair Vivek Ranadive. Stevens' behavior Wednesday "marked the latest in a string of high-profile incidents between fans and NBA players." Thunder G Russell Westbrook in March was "fined $25,000 for directing profanity toward a fan," who was "banned for life from Salt Lake City's Vivint Smart Home Arena." A couple of weeks later, the Celtics had "banned a fan for directing a racial slur" at Warriors C DeMarcus Cousins during a game at TD Garden (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/7). In N.Y., Marc Stein notes Stevens' punishment is "one of the harshest" levied by Silver in his five-year tenure (N.Y. TIMES, 6/7). YAHOO SPORTS' Vincent Goodwill wrote the NBA can "only do so much to an investor's pocketbook, but taking away access is where it hurts and removing the ability to be heard and seen courtside is a start" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/6).

EXPLAINING HIS REASONING: Silver acknowledged the reality that Stevens "isn't a typical fan sitting courtside; this is an investor on the team." However, despite the punishment, Silver argued that the league does "believe that people that are members of a team or organization or the league should be held to a higher standard." Silver "insisted that the ruling did not mean the NBA or the Warriors are currying favor with an investor." Silver said of Stevens, "From my standpoint, he's paying an enormous price for it, not just in terms of discipline and the ban, but his reputation in his community as well. ... This is not something that has happened in my tenure in the NBA, and I don't expect it to happen again in the future." Silver added in regard to the punishment, "There's not some rulebook I can look to on precisely what to do. I try to balance all the different factors here and I think that this was a fair outcome" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 6/7).

BALANCING ACT: USA TODAY's Dan Wolken wrote his actions Thursday "should remind us all who Silver really works for." Balancing the "best business interests of the league and its owners with what players want isn't always easy for a commissioner, but Silver has navigated it deftly until now." In this situation, the "only real issue for Silver and the 29 other ownership groups should be the image of the league." Stevens may be worth $2.3B, but the "value he brings to the NBA should now only be measured in toxins." It is "difficult for the NBA to do much more in those situations than eject the fans." But when it "comes to someone who's part of an ownership group, the NBA should have zero tolerance for any kind of inappropriate action toward a player" (USATODAY.com, 6/6). In Toronto, Joe Warmington writes there should be "no double-standards because of connections or deep pockets." But "to be fair, the league is doing its due diligence." Stevens "should not be run out of town without given a chance to do the right thing" (TORONTO SUN, 6/7). 

NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED: In Boston, Gary Washburn writes Stevens' actions are "reflective of an entitled billionaire who watches these Warriors games from courtside as if he's royalty while his peasants entertain him with their athletic prowess." The NBA "has a problem." Teams "sell these exorbitantly high-priced seats just feet away from these mammoth athletes and some fans abuse that privilege by yelling profane remarks or in some cases getting physical" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/7).

The Phillies' sizeable attendance increase comes as crowd numbers league-wide are down about 2%
Photo: getty images

The Phillies this season are averaging 35,396 fans per game for Bryce Harper's first season with the club, the sixth-highest average in the league and "more than 10,000 additional fans per game at Citizens Bank Park compared to the same point last season, an increase that dwarfs every other team," according to Rob Tornoe of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Few MLB teams have been able to "increase their attendance this season," which is down about 2% overall across the league. The Phillies also remain "must-watch television for fans throughout the Delaware Valley." The Phillies are averaging a 4.6 local rating for games on NBC Sports Philadelphia and WCAU-NBC. That would put the team "on pace to draw its highest television ratings" since '12, when it averaged a 5.4 rating. The interest in watching the Phillies also "crosses over to the digital side," where games are averaging 19,000 unique streaming devices this season, an increase of 139% compared to last year (INQUIRER.com, 6/6). 

OUT OF SIGHT: In Philadelphia, Jim Salisbury noted the Phillies "quietly removed all banners depicting the image" of CF Odubel Herrera in and around Citizens Bank Park. Herrera was arrested in New Jersey last month on a "charge of domestic violence." Five banners in all were "removed -- four from light poles that surround the ballpark and one from the concourse inside the stadium" (NBCSPORTSPHILADELPHIA.com, 6/6). Also in Philadelphia, Matt Breen notes after being informed of Herrera’s arrest, the Phillies asked MLB to "remove his name from the All-Star Ballot." As for whether the signage would return, Phillies VP/Communications Bonnie Clark said, "That decision will be made at an appropriate time" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/7).