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Today, the NBA announced the one-year suspension of Robert Sarver, owner of the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, coupled with a $10 million fining fee, which is the maximum allowed by NBA rules.
Per his one-year suspension, the restrictions applied include: Sarver cannot attend any NBA or WNBA facility and not participate in any event/activity, such as games, practices, or business that displays both teams in a private or public setting.
In 2021, ESPN published an article about various allegations made about Sarver last November, such as racism and misogynistic behavior in his workplace, prompting the NBA to start an independent investigation. According to the NBA, they interviewed 320 people and reviewed over 80,000 documents.
After an independent investigation led by New York-based law firm Wachtell Lipton, it was found that Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, including the use of racially insensitive language, unequal treatment of female employees, sex-related statements and conduct, and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”
The findings also detailed:
- There are at least five instances with the teams; Sarver repeated the N-word when depicting the statement from others.
- Sarver was involved in degrading and belittling the treatment of employees, such as cursing and yelling at them.
- Sarver participated in discriminatory conduct towards female employees, stating several sex-related comments in the workplace, demeaning comments about female physical appearance, and inappropriate behavior towards male workers.
Following the allegations, Sarver denied everything but released a statement after the NBA’s public announcement.
“Good leadership requires accountability. For the Suns and Mercury organizations, that begins with me. While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA’s report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that offended our employees. I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values.”
Sarver stated, “I accept the consequences of the NBA’s decision. This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate a capacity to learn and grow as we contribute to build a working culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.”
Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, stated that the findings behind the investigation were both “troubling and disappointing.” Silver believes that the outcome was the right decision, having to take “into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to upholding proper standards in NBA workplaces.”