The NBA suspended Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million in an investigation into misconduct that included racial slurs, yelling at employees and unfair treatment of female employees.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said: “The statements and actions described in the findings of the independent investigation are very disturbing and disappointing.”
He added: “Regardless of position, power or ideology, we all need to recognize the damaging and damaging impact of racially insensitive and degrading language and behavior.” On behalf of the NBA, I apologize to all those affected by the misconduct described in the investigators’ report. We must do better.
Sarver owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
Sarver said in a statement that he accepted the outcome of the NBA’s decision.
“While I disagree with some of the details of the NBA report, I want to apologize for my words and actions that upset our staff,” he said. “I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors of judgment do not align with my personal philosophy or values.
The NBA began its investigation b November 2021 article by ESPN Allegations of abuse against Sarver. After the article was published, the league retained the law firm Vachtel, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to conduct an independent investigation.
On Tuesday, the organization and the NBA were released 43 page report It said Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated the standards of normal workplaces,” including inappropriate comments about the appearance of female employees and bullying. According to the report, he also engaged in inappropriate physical behavior with male employees on four occasions.
More than 100 individuals interviewed by investigators said they witnessed behavior that “violated operational standards.” There was a general feeling among employees that Sarver felt workplace rules did not apply to him, the report said.
Sarver also cracked jokes, insulted employees and told a pregnant employee she couldn’t do her job when she was a mother, according to the report.
Witnesses recalled Sarver saying that the worker was busy “breast feeding” and that “a baby needs its mother, not its father.” According to the report, the employee responded to Sarver’s comment. Sarver later asked why women “cry so much.”
In addition, Sarver “repeated the N-word while addressing others’ statements,” the report said. Sarver used the term during a team building practice during the 2012-13 season with players, coaches and members of the front office in attendance. After a 2016 game, he complained to one of the Suns’ coaches that a black player on the opposing team was allowed to use the term without receiving a technical foul. After the Suns coach “admonished” Sarver for using the word, Sarver reportedly repeated it out loud several times. He later used a version of the word for an NBA email
According to the report, Sarver made sexual references on at least 20 occasions, and pulled down another male employee’s shorts in front of a group of employees. The employee was embarrassed even though he was not fully exposed.
In the year In 2015, according to the report, the team joked that they had “local hitters to feel a connection to the area, giving the Suns a big deal in free agency.”
During the investigation, Sarver sought to defend himself by citing his contributions to social and racial justice causes and the Suns’ record of employing the league’s highest percentage of people of color in the basketball operations department.
During the investigation, a total of 320 people were interviewed, 202 current employees, 100 former employees, 12 minority owners of the group and Sarver. Investigators reviewed 80,000 pages of emails, text messages and other documents and 51 videos of staff meetings.
The NBA’s heaviest punishment for a team owner came in 2016. It goes to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014 when the league handed him a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine. Sterling was recorded making racist comments in a private conversation.
Silver said at the time that the punishment was based solely on that single incident and that he would encourage the league’s board of governors to terminate Sterling’s ownership.
Sterling’s current wife, Rochelle Sterling, sold the group for $2 billion after her husband tried to block the sale.