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Mark Stevens, the Golden State Warriors part-owner who — for some ridiculous, egotistical, head-up-his-[expletive] reason — decided he had the freedom to curse at and shove Toronto’s Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals, has been suspended for a year and fined half a million dollars.
Good. That’s exactly what he deserves. And that’s all he deserves.
I don’t know Mark Stevens. Perhaps he’s a kind and generous man who volunteers at animal shelters and gives millions to orphans’ charities. Perhaps he’s a guy who invested wisely and now thinks the fact that he’s got money, a courtside seat, and team ownership gives him the right to act like a total [same expletive as above]. Both can be true. But neither matters, because in the court of public opinion, he’s guilty as sin … and there’s a growing social media push to get him to sell his share of the team.
Let’s slow down a bit here.
Stevens deserves punishment. He deserves public shaming. He deserves to sit and watch Golden State’s games — and possible celebration — on TV. Hell, he deserves to watch Game 4 locked in a room with Drake. What he 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 — calling for heads, looking to ruin careers and legacies without even pausing for a moment of consideration — obliterates the distinction between momentary jackassery and truly disgusting patterns of behavior.
Stevens’ actions, while classless, aren’t even in the same galaxy as, say, Donald Sterling, who was deservedly bounced from his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers for a decades-long string of racist behavior. It’s the difference between a guy in a row behind you burping in your ear and another guy screaming racial epithets at every minority in the stadium.
Stevens’ dimwit move came at the exact moment the term “owner” is coming under scrutiny in the NBA, for obvious reasons — a white boss of a largely African-American on-court labor force can bring up some ugly historical connotations. But absent any other, incriminating details on Stevens, the “owner” question isn’t relevant to this situation here, and Stevens shouldn’t bear the brunt of that social movement just because he picked a bad time to show his [yep, same expletive] to the world.
You can’t hurt a billionaire in the pocketbook. So you have to hurt him in the mirror. His image is far more valuable — and fragile — than his checkbook. Stevens is going to spend the next year watching his team win without him. For a guy like that, watching someone else cheering in his courtside seat is a wicked, effective, and entirely appropriate punishment.
Zero tolerance for his next outburst, yes. And if we learn there’s more on the dark side of Stevens’ ledger, sure, the calculus changes. But for now? Based on this one event, we’re done here.
Hey, Boston! How many more games do the Blues need to win the Cup?
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