Adam Silver Defends Only Giving Year-Long Ban To Warriors Investor
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).