This NBA Finals has brought into focus some questions about the relationship between players and fans, and one far more serious than the matter of Drake. At the time of these two interviews, Axios had just reported that a fan who shoved and yelled at Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in game three was Mark Stevens, a venture capitalist and a minority owner of the Warriors. Later in the day, Stevens was banned from all games and team activities for a year.
Both E-40 and Fieri said they hadn’t seen replay footage of the incident or read that news yet, but the problems long predate Wednesday. “Realize that we’re still people at the end of the day,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet told The Ringer in April. “It’s not the zoo. And when you go to the zoo, you don’t jump over the fence and taunt the tigers and shit like that. It’s real consequences behind stuff like that.”
While Fieri admired the players’ ability to ignore fans, he was bothered that it’s a skill they’ve had to develop in the first place. “These guys are such pros,” he said. “I mean, if you’ve ever been on a sideline of the game, and you listen to the smack that gets talked to these poor players. These are grown men playing basketball, they’re playing their asses off and yet somebody sitting third row that’s angry or whatever, he’s yelling obscenities at them. You got to sit there and go, ‘are you serious? You’re really going to do that?’ To somebody who’s out there in their profession … did somebody come to your job and yell at you?”
Next season, the Warriors will move from Oakland to a new stadium in San Francisco. “I don’t think it’s going to affect the team,” E-40 said. “I just think that it’s going to be a different environment. We’ll get more Frisco people in there, you know what I mean? We don’t want it to be too gentrified. We want everybody in that thing, all walks of life.”
“It’s just taking it back to the basics, he continued. “Because a lot of people don’t have money like that. A lot of people don’t have tech money.” (He was quick to add, though, “everybody from the Bay is true fans.”)