NBA Reportedly Banned 5 Times as Many Fans in 2019 as It Did Last Season

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIJune 7, 2019

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 26: A detailed view of the dimpled NBA logo on a basketball patterned after a silhouette of former player Jerry West before the start of the Toronto Raptors NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks at Scotiabank Arena on October 26, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

On the heels of the NBA punishing Golden State Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens for a year after he shoved Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night, The Athletic's Sam Amick reported that the league's overall discipline has ramped up five-times over. 

"According to league sources, the NBA and its teams have banned five times as many fans in the 2018-19 season as it did in 2017-18 (playoffs included)," Amick wrote Friday. "And to hear [Kyle] Lowry share his view on what he believes needs to happen here, it's the kind of zero-tolerance trend he would like to see continue." 

Stevens has been banned from all NBA games for one year and ordered to pay a $500,000 fine. 

Following the incident, the National Basketball Players Associated released a statement

"We are closely monitoring both the Warriors' and the League's continued investigation into this matter and anxiously await their conclusions and response. The NBPA has previously expressed its support of a "zero-tolerance" policy with respect to verbal and/or physical assaults perpetrated against Players. Stevens' status as a member of the ownership group does not alter that view."

Lowry himself provided strong comments following the Raptors' Game 3 win at Golden State: 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Kyle Lowry didn't appreciate what happened in Game 3 https://t.co/a8vXBKW6I9

Blake Murphy @BlakeMurphyODC

Lowry thanks the Warriors and the NBA for their statements. Says he thinks he handled it as well as possible and the support from fellow players and the league has been “unbelievable.”

Blake Murphy @BlakeMurphyODC

Lowry says “it sucks” that this takes attention off the Finals but he hopes the league deals with it and we can shift our attention back. Lowry says Stevens hasn’t reached out. It sounds like he has no interest in hearing from him. “He showed his colors.”

LeBron James took an even stronger stand against Stevens' conduct and the overall protection of players from fans sitting courtside with a lengthy post on Instagram

"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 of the ticket itself that states the guidelines. But [Stevens] himself being a fan but more importantly PART-OWNER of the Warriors knew exactly what he was doing which was so uncalled for. ... Something needs to be done ASAP! 

"A swift action for his actions. Just think to yourself, what if [Lowry] 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." 

Another notable ban came back in March during an Oklahoma City Thunder game at the Utah Jazz in which a fan shouted derogatory language at Russell Westbrook. The Jazz issued lifetime bans to two fans in the following days.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Russell Westbrook went IN on Jazz fans. https://t.co/CpiYBtX7IO

"These are incredibly unfortunate incidents," NBA commissioner Adam Silver told The Undefeated's Jerry Bembry in a story published May 31. "I also want to send a clear message to those small, tiny minority of fans who might engage in that sort of conduct that it absolutely won't be tolerated." 

Silver also noted that disrespectful fans will be caught due to "numerous high-definition cameras" and "18,000 fellow spectators." The league's uptick in discipline certainly speaks to the utilization of such resources to uphold accountability.