Debate Over Punishment For Warriors' Mark Stevens Continues
There are "mixed reviews over the one-year suspension" given to Warriors investor Mark Stevens for pushing Raptors G Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals, as some in and around the league believe he should have "received a lifetime ban and been forced to divest from the team," according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that he had "never met Stevens," but decided to "offer the billionaire venture capitalist the benefit of the doubt." Silver: "Some may disagree with precisely what we’ve done, but I think speed (on a decision) is also critically important. I think that’s something that people have come to expect from us and even if it is for league officials, if it requires working through the night then we can especially in the middle of the series say, 'Here we are.' There’s been due process afforded Mr. Stevens" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/9). In Boston, Brian Robb wrote he "would be shocked" if Stevens "isn’t forced to sell his stake in the Warriors." The incident is a "black eye on the franchise that they will want to get rid of even after Stevens received a year suspension from the league" (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 6/9). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon thinks there is "a move afoot" from the other Warriors investors "to force him to sell." ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said his "only aversion to that kind of thinking is I don’t want him nor anyone else lumped into the bowl as a Donald Sterling" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/7).
DID THE NBA GET IT RIGHT? In Pittsburgh, Ron Cook writes Stevens' punishment "hardly seems like enough." The "last thing the NBA needs is for a team official to be encouraging such violence" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/10). ESPN’s Amin Elhassan said Stevens deserves a "lifetime ban" because "thousands of people go to NBA games, sit courtside and have a lot to drink, and somehow they keep their hands to themselves" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 6/7). ESPN's Wilbon said the ban "should have been two years" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/7). The Athletic’s Frank Isola called the punishment "fair." Isola: "You combine that year suspension, the fine, plus just the embarrassment. Nobody knew who this guy was before he did this, now everybody knows he’s the guy who pushed Kyle Lowry (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/7). ESPN’s Dan Le Batard: “It's pretty punitive whether you're a billionaire or not to have it be $500,000, and you get to lose those seats during the Finals and you lose them next year, and you get national shame. That seems like about enough" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 6/7).
TIGHTENING THINGS UP: In Toronto, Doug Smith noted a hot topic this NBA season has been the "decaying of the respect level between fans and players." It is a "major issue the league has to deal with" and Stevens' punishment is "further proof of how seriously they’re taking and how rapidly they will react" (TORONTO STAR, 6/8). THE ATHLETIC's Sam Amick noted the number of fan bans is "on the rise" in the NBA. Sources said that the league and its teams have "banned five times as many fans" in this season compared to last year. The players are "demanding a better work environment" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/7).