Paul Pierce Clears Up Longstanding Speculation That He Left NBA Finals in a Wheelchair Because He Had to Boo-Boo
Stephen A. Crockett Jr. | THE ROOT
Paul Pierce’s nickname is “The Truth.”
So, don’t expect Pierce to lie about why he left the 2008 NBA Finals in a wheelchair.
Let me set the scene for you: The Boston Celtics were anchored by the Big Three—Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and The Truth. They were playing against longtime rivals Los Angeles Lakers when Kobe Bryant went up for a jumper and Pierce jumped to defend against the shot and suddenly collapsed to the floor. Pierce writhed in pain and was taken to the locker room in a wheelchair. Celtics fans thought all hope was lost. Minutes later, Pierce emerged, running from the locker room and the rest is either history or bullshit, depending where you stand.
According to the Big Lead, many began comparing Pierce’s in-game heroics to Willis Reed, who returned to play in the 1970 NBA Finals after suffering a thigh injury and torn muscle that had previously kept him out of Game 6 while covering Wilt Chamberlain.
Well, it turns out that Pierce wasn’t really hurt, after all. In fact, the actual story, as with most myths, is less heroics and a bit more messy. It turns out that while Pierce was covering Kobe’s jump shot, he sharted.
While Pierce did go to the locker room writhing in pain, what many assumed was a leg injury was actually just an “accident” and the wheelchair served as cover.
The retired NBA forward who now works as an analyst for ESPN, decided he’d clear up the rumors before Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night.
Jalen Rose, the best big point guard not named Magic Johnson, just cut to the chase and asked Pierce: “Were you streaking?” Pierce laughed and admitted that the wheelchair was because he had to go to the bathroom. So there you have it—yes, it was a shitty situation but The Truth is nothing if not honest, and now all of America knows that Pierce boo-boo’d himself on the largest stage in the NBA.
Raptors guard Kyle Lowry went after a loose ball near the sideline early in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the NBA Finals. His momentum carried him into the courtside seats at Oracle Arena, and unfortunately this happened.
The fan who put his hands on Lowry is Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, and the team issued the following statement about the situation Thursday morning:
Mr. Stevens’ behavior last night did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organization. We’re extremely disappointed in his actions and, along with Mr. Stevens, offer our sincere apology to Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors organization for this unfortunate misconduct. There is no place for such interaction between fans — or anyone — and players at an NBA game.
Mr. Stevens will not be in attendance at any of the remaining games of the 2019 NBA Finals. Review of this matter is ongoing.
The NBA has banned Stevens from all games as a review of the matter continues.
The NBA Players Association released a statement Thursday afternoon as well.
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.”
Stevens joined the Warriors’ ownership group in August 2013 and is an executive board member. It’s unclear what this incident means for Stevens’ standing with the team, but Lowry clearly wasn’t happy when asked about it Wednesday night.
“He had no reason to touch me,” Lowry told reporters after Toronto’s 123-109 win. “He had no reason to reach over two seats and then say some vulgar language to me. There’s no place for people like that in our league.
“And hopefully he never comes back to an NBA game.”
Lowry was terrific Wednesday night, recording 23 points, nine assists, one steal and one block.
Game 4 is Friday night at Oracle Arena, with the Raptors leading the best-of-seven series two games to one.
“I take full responsibility for my actions last night at the NBA Finals and am embarrassed by what transpired,” Stevens said. “What I did was wrong and there is no excuse for it. Mr. Lowry deserves better, and I have reached out today in an attempt to directly apologize to him and other members of the Raptors and Warriors organizations. I’m grateful to those who accepted my calls.
“I hope that Mr. Lowry and others impacted by this lapse in judgement understand that the behavior I demonstrated last night does not reflect the person I am or have been throughout my life. I made a mistake and I’m truly sorry. I need to be better and look forward to making it right.
“I fully accept the punishment administered by the NBA and the Warriors.”
Early in the fourth quarter of NBA Finals Game 3 on Wednesday night, Lowry crashed into the first row of seats at Oracle Arena after trying to save a ball that was headed out of bounds. With Lowry on a seat, Stevens shoved the player and, according to the Raptors guard, directed a vulgar statement at him.
Kyle Lowry wants Mark Stevens out of NBA, not apology from Warriors owner
Scott Bair | NBC SPORTS
OAKLAND – Kyle Lowry found top form in in Toronto’s vital Game 3 victory over the Warriors on Wednesday night, leaving the Raptors just two wins away from their first NBA championship.
Lowry scored 23 efficient points, locked in from inside and outside the arc in a 123-109 win over the Warriors at Oracle Arena.
Lowry wasn’t able to bask in a job well done. Thursday afternoon was spent dealing with what was done to him trying to save a possession on a ball headed out of bounds. That’s when a man later identified as Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens went out of his way to shove Lowry and shower him with obscenities.
Lowry answered two basketball questions on the eve of Friday’s pivotal Game 4. The rest of what should’ve been a moment in the sun was spent on Stevens.
That, in his view, is unfortunate.
“It sucks, because we just want to play basketball,” Lowry said before Thursday’s Raptors practice at Oracle Arena. “We just want to win a championship. … The game takes a backseat because of this.”
The Warriors announced after Lowry’s press conference that Stevens will be banned for a year and fined $500,000 for his actions Wednesday night.
Lowry doesn’t think that’s far enough. He wanted more, even before the punishment was levied.
“A guy like that shouldn’t be a part of our league,” Lowry said. “That’s my personal opinion. That’s how I feel. We’ve had situations like this before and the NBA has done the right thing in protecting their players and the image of the league.”
Lowry couldn’t help but imagine if he had retaliated after getting shoved while in a vulnerable position, when being told to go f— himself. Lowry didn’t put hands on Stevens. He told officials about the incident, went back to his team and tried to calm down.
Admittedly, he was pissed. Lowry says teammate Marc Gasol helped and others got him re-focused on beating the Warriors.
“It definitely kind of brought me back quicker,” Lowry said. “I knew it would be a big deal, but I didn’t know it would be as big of a deal as him being a part of the group that writes the checks.”
Lowry has received praise for how he handled the situation and its aftermath, both in private texts from his peers and public statements of support from across the league, including from LeBron James, and he’s proud to have showed restraint in a spot where others have lashed back at fans sitting courtside.
“Yeah, it could’ve gone the other way,” Lowry said. “It definitely could’ve gone bad, but I’m bigger than him as a person. My kids are more important to me than he is to me. I have to make sure that I always think of my kids first. That’s what it’s all about.”
Lowry doesn’t want a personal apology from Stevens. Not at this stage, when it would likely emerge from severe backlash these past 24 hours and be taken as hollow.
“I don’t know him. I don’t care to know him,” Lowry said. “He showed his true colors at the time. And you show what you’re really about in that time and at that moment.
“…In the heat of the moment, when the pressure and the tightness is on you, you show who you really are.”
Lowry said he wouldn’t address the situation again, preferring to shift focus back to basketball during a series loaded with on-court storylines. He was disappointed that anything distracted from that.
“It sucks that this has to take the front page of the Finals,” Lowry said. “It has been a fun Finals. It has been a competitive Finals. It really sucks that this had to be a part of it.”
Why Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens wasn’t given lifetime NBA ban
Ali Thanawalla | NBC SPORTS
Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry believes there’s no place in the NBA for Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens.
The league and the Warriors saw things differently, though, and handed down a one-year ban and a $500,000 fine to Stevens for pushing Lowry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night.
So, why wasn’t Stevens given a lifetime ban by the league?
“I think we recognized that it’s not a science in terms of making these decisions,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday afternoon. “I think ultimately we felt that given how contrite Mr. Stevens was, the fact that he was extremely apologetic, the fact that he had no blemishes on his prior involvement with the NBA or the Warriors, that a one-year ban seemed appropriate together with the fine.”
A few hours after the NBA announced the punishment, Stevens released a statementthrough the Warriors, saying he was “embarrassed” by his actions directed at Lowry.
With all the postseason injuries suffered by the Warriors, DeMarcus Cousins has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for the team. But he apparently was close to giving up any hope of making it back for the NBA Finals.
“I was just ready to quit — like throw the towel in,” he told Rachel Nichols during an interview Wednesday on ESPN’s “The Jump.”
When Cousins sustained a torn left quadriceps (thigh muscle) in the first quarter of Game 2 of the Warriors’ first-round series against the Clippers, Golden State initially thought the big man was done for the year. But over the next 45 days, a determined Cousins worked extremely hard to make it back. And he played a huge role in the Warriors’ Game 2 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
The comeback, however, almost didn’t happen as Cousins, who had already been through an arduous rehab process after tearing his left Achilles, experienced a dismal period of self-pity.
“It’s human nature,” he told Nichols. “The first thing is: ‘Why? Why me? Why now? What did I do wrong? Why do I deserve this?’”
And even though Cousins eventually got over it, he wasn’t sure that all the difficult rehab work would even be enough to get him back on the court in time.
“It’s tedious work. You come in and you just do the same thing over and over again,” he said. “And there’s days where you’re just like, ‘This (bleep) is not even working.’ But you gotta trust in this person putting you through these exercises.”
Cousins went on to explain that “the physical part wasn’t the hard part. It’s everything mental that comes with it.”
“I had to dig deep,” he said. “I had to do some soul-searching.”
After playing just eight minutes off the bench in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Cousins started Game 2 and had 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks. And because of injuries to teammates, he played more minutes — 28 — than expected.
Nichols asked Cousins if he thinks his body will be able to hold up over the series, especially if the depleted Warriors need to lean on him even more.
“The body can take you wherever your mind goes,” he said. “If I can do it in my mind, I think my body will follow.”