When Golden State Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens shoved Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry during the 2019 NBA Finals, the calls for a lifetime ban were immediate and numerous. LeBron James said that “there is absolutely no place” in the NBA for such behavior. When he was banned from the team for a year, Andre Iguodala erroneously claimed that Stevens’ punishment would last even longer.
And frankly, nobody could blame them. Any fan making such aggressive contact with a player is absolutely unacceptable, but for a team owner to do so during the NBA Finals crosses an even worse line. Lowry was understandably livid when it happened
But despite the outcry following Stevens’ actions, his punishment will be upheld as scheduled, and when the season ends, his ban will be lifted and he will return to the team’s executive board, according to The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami. Stevens has reportedly reached out to the Raptors and Lowry to apologize, but has not gotten a response.
Warriors’ governor Joe Lacob has reportedly been insistent that Stevens retains his stake and eventually return to the franchise. Stevens owns between 2-10 percent of the team, according to Kawakami.
The NBA has a precedent for forcing the sale of a team. In 2014, Adam Silver banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the NBA for life, and he was a majority owner. Forcing a minority partner to sell would theoretically be easier, but in this case, neither the NBA nor the Warriors are pushing the issue. That decision will certainly lead to quite a bit of backlash from players and fans, but when the 2019-20 season ends, Stevens will be free to rejoin the Warriors.