Mark Stevens, the minority investor in the Golden State Warriors who assaulted Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals isn’t a small man. At about 6’1″ and 175 lbs. He’s relatively fit for a man in his late fifties. He probably works out, maybe does a little Pilates, surely gets in some golf from time to time. He is a rich man, a billionaire who along with his wife donated $50 Million to his alma mater USC. In college, he was known to get a little rowdy with his frat brothers at the Trojan football games but never had a reputation for violence.
Kyle Lowry is not a big man for a professional basketball player, also 6’1″. He’s a bit heavier than Stevens at 196 lbs but appears slimmer because his weight is mostly muscle and he gets a whole lot more exercise. Not a billionaire like Stevens, he is in the middle of a 3-year, $90 Million contract so he isn’t doing badly.
When Lowry went crashing into the stands chasing a loose ball during Game 3, one wonders what possessed Mark Stevens to push Kyle Lowry, a younger, stronger man who odds are could whip Stevens ass? When you sit if the expensive front row seats as Stevens did, you assume some risk because players end up in the stands relatively often. You want to be close to the action, there’s a chance the action will come to you. The tickets fan purchase have a disclaimer waiving liability. As part owner of the team, Stevens of all people should know that. So what made Stevens think he was within his right to push Lowry, who landed a couple of people away, Stevens had to cross over people to get to Lowry. In what world does an older, less fit man, physically go after a professional athlete in his prime?
Let’s consider what would happen if Kyle Lowry were the one who assaulted a fan, who just happened to be part owner of the opposing team. When Stephen Jackson of the Indiana Pacers went into the stands after a fan who threw and hit one of his teammates with a beer. He was suspended for thirty games and fined $3 Million. Kyle Lowry at a minimum would have been ejected from the remainder of The Finals, been fined millions of dollars and been suspended (without pay) well into the next season. He might well have faced criminal assault charges to boot, not to mention fierce tweeting from the Commander-In-Chief who wouldn’t miss the opportunity. Stevens was banned from attending Warriors games for a year (he’ll have to watch them at home on the big screen, the horror) and fined $500K. That was 1/100th of the amount he gave away to USC.
Back to what Stevens was thinking, surely he was certain there would be no retaliation. Was it because he was rich? Because the security forces in the Oracle Arena worked for him? Because he had gotten used to power having been rich since he was in his thirties? Or just maybe because of the race of the people involved, even being rich in his own right didn’t keep Kyle Lowry from being assaulted in public view on national television.
I don’t claim to know what was in Mark Stevens mind. I do know that the penalty wasn’t severe for him. As time goes by he may even brag about the incident at cocktail parties, how he went after a professional athlete who didn’t dare do anything in return. Stevens did eventually issue a written apology. Among other things he said, “I hope that Mr. Lowry and others impacted by this lapse in judgment understand that the behavior I demonstrated last night does not reflect the person I am or have been throughout my life.” Without knowing for certain his motivation, his behavior reflects exactly who he is.