The Warriors’ Venture Bro Co-Owner Who Shoved Kyle Lowry Is Everything Wrong With America’s Billionaire Class
Mark Stevens, a billionaire VC, was caught on tape shoving the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry during the NBA Finals. His gross entitlement is American greed personified.
Kyle Lowry is one of the NBA’s premier rough-riding tough guys. Six f00t one inch tall on a good day, not particularly athletic, possessing only an iron will and a stout, powerful, clenched fist of a body, Lowry was drafted 24th overall out of Villanova to the Grizzlies, where he was quickly supplanted by Mike Conley. When he got traded to the Rockets, he managed to make a role for himself. But then, he got traded again to the Toronto Raptors, where, through pure force of will, at a period in his career when many guys find themselves in physical decline, he made himself into a five-time All-Star, elite defender, heady game manager and a fierce competitor. No one in basketball ever seriously thought he could be the player he has become, and yet, here he is, 33 years old, competing like a madman in the NBA Finals, diving for balls, drilling shots, and doing his best to keep basketball legend Steph Curry in check.
Last night, while he was diving for a loose ball, Lowry found himself crashing into the front row, a common occurrence in the NBA—especially in the heat of a wild playoff row. While lifting himself up, an older, grey-haired man in a blue Warriors polo shirt took the opportunity to shove Lowry’s arm and curse at him:
Lowry spoke to Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter last night and laid out his version of events:
He reached and then put his hands on me for no reason, then he said a couple of, you know, some vulgar words to me and repeated them, repeatedly. But you know, in our league there’s no place for that. You know honestly, I hope he’s never allowed to come to an NBA game because he shouldn’t have did that. Luckily, they threw him out. I talked to league security already… The fans have a place, we love our fans, but fans like that, they shouldn’t be allowed to be in there, because you know, it’s not right. You know, I can’t do nothing to protect myself. But you know, the league does a good job, and hopefully they ban him from all NBA games ever.
Bruce Arthur, a columnist for the Toronto Star, filled in some of the gaps:
Since the Warriors became a league powerhouse, CEO Joe Lacob and the team’s business operation have made Oracle Arena, once one of the league’s true madhouses, into a moribund playground for the rich. Soon, they won’t even be in Oracle, moving across the Bay to the Chase Center, an arena with honest-to-God courtside boxes that employ sommeliers and butlers to serve wealthy clientele who feel entitled to the experience of appearing courtside on national TV. And what a douchebag this shover is, am I right? Ban him for life from NBA stadiums, put his picture up on every sports arena in the country, let him know that behavior like this is unacceptable—oh sorry, excuse me, I’m just getting word: he is a part-owner of the team?
Incredible. Just incredible. Mark Stevens, a part-owner of the Warriors, a former partner at Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capitalists with a net worth of $2.6 billion, took it upon himself to plant a pissy little shove into the shoulder of Kyle Lowry, and then top it off with some childish curses. Amazing. Just stupendous.
But are you even surprised? Mark Stevens is a perfect representative of his class—a moneyed billionaire layabout who sits courtside, watches these dudes pour their hearts and bodies and minds into doing everything they can to get the ring, and, when that effort spills onto his lap, decides that, just because he has some money in the game, he is entitled to disrespect Lowry and his labor.
What is Mark Stevens, pissy courtside fan, if not the pure manifestation of America’s billionaire class, who devour every possible cent, do everything they can to keep their money out of schools, health care, and aid for the poor and the destitute, and then have the fucking GALL to denigrate the labor of everyone who sits underneath their gilded pyramids, even when those people are millionaire athletes? How can you not watch this billionaire shithead lay his hands on one of the NBA’s true self-made men, a dude who fought against the apathy of the basketball world for a goddamn decade, and not see that he and his entire cohort are just totally incapable of having an iota of respect for anyone but themselves and not believe in the depths of your heart that they should be brought to heel at the soonest possible opportunity?
Mark Stevens will be shamed into apologizing in the coming days, presumably. His PR team will train him for an interview, where he will try to say all the right things to make himself look good, to shore up his reputation with the public—his peers probably won’t give a shit—and try to maintain his ownership stake in the Warriors. Don’t believe him. That unhinged guy who felt entitled to shove someone because he’s a rich dick who can afford the buy-in that gets him courtside seats at a Finals game is the real dude, the manifestation of all the dudes who wield wealth like an Infinity Gauntlet to impose their will on the lives of working people. He has no respect for Kyle Lowry or for anyone outside his bubble.
“There’s absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT ALL. There’s so many issues here. When you sit courtside you absolutely know what comes with being on the floor and if you don’t know it’s on the back on the ticket itself that states the guidelines. But he himself being a fan but more importantly PART-OWNER of the Warriors knew exactly what he was doing which was so uncalled for. He knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside so for that Something needs to be done ASAP! A swift action for his actions. Just think to yourself, what if @kyle_lowry7 would have reacted and put his hands back on him. You guys would be going CRAZY!! Calling for him to damn near be put in jail let alone being suspended for the rest of the Finals all because he was protected himself. I’ve been quite throughout the whole NBA playoffs watching every game (haven’t missed one) but after I saw what I saw last night, took time to let it manifest into my thinking 🧢 I couldn’t and wouldn’t be quiet on this! #ProtectThePlayers #PrivilegeAintWelcomeHere.”
LeBron is right. Stevens’s ownership stake in the Warriors should give him the context to know better. Earlier this year, a Utah Jazz fan was banned from NBA arenas for yelling racist taunts at Russell Westbrook. The memory of the Malice at the Palace lives on in everyone’s mind. The NBA in-arena experience is totally unparalleled, because the arenas and the game lend themselves to an intimate, close-up experience. The flip side is that fans have to not act like assholes, and let the players do their jobs without laying their hands on them or yelling racist crap at them.
But then again, Stevens probably didn’t see himself as a fan. He saw himself as an OWNER, entitled to a different experience.
Back in 2014, Donald Sterling, a scumbag Los Angeles real estate developer who somehow found himself owning the Clippers, was outright banned from the NBA after a tape leaked of him saying some wildly racist shit about Magic Johnson, among other people. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver standing at the podium and laying down the sentence was a powerful moment for the league, a declaration that they would not tolerate Sterling being an out-and-out racist, for disrespecting their players.
But it’s not like Sterling was new to saying weird, messed-up shit about NBA players. When Elgin Baylor sued Sterling for back pay in 2011, he told the court that some of his players complained about how Sterling would bring women into their locker room, post-game, and openly leer and gawk while talking about their “beautiful black bodies.” While Stevens shoving Lowry isn’t as extreme as Sterling’s behavior concerning the bodies of NBA players, it’s an action that lives in the same awful neighborhood. It’s a member of the capital class lording over this county, declaring himself entitled to the bodies of his subjects, who believes that the money he’s invested in a business entitles him to violate someone’s bodily sovereignty. The NBA can exile Sterling from their clique, let the world know that you can’t drunkenly yelp “HE’S GOT AIDS” at Anderson Cooper, but they can’t fix the problem inherent in team ownership: that rich guys putting their money into teams gives them the impression that they’re entitled to act like a prick and lord their power over athletes.
The NBA has issued a statement that it has banned Stevens from all games while they review the incident. Meanwhile Axios, which broke the Stevens news, reported that he’s been banned from Oracle Arena for the remainder of the NBA Playoffs, and might be forced to sell his stake in the team. But even if that happens, he’ll still get a payout and make a tidy profit on his investment, seeing how much the team’s value has skyrocketed in the wake of this run of titles. It ends up not mattering, in the wash—money can get you a car, a new computer, a nice bottle of wine, but only wealth, true wealth, can buy you the ability to act like a giant shithead in front of millions of people and experience no real material consequences for your behavior.
UPDATE: On Thursday evening, the NBA and the Golden State Warriors released a joint statement announcing that Stevens is being “banned from attending NBA games and Warriors team activities for one year and has been fined $500,000 for pushing and directing obscene gestures toward the Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of the Finals last night.”