Robert Sarver, owner of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, has been suspended from the NBA for one year as the league investigates the work environment at the Suns organization. The New York Post reports that the 60-year-old made inappropriate sexual remarks about the physical appearance of women, made inappropriate physical contact with men, used the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others,” and treated employees harshly, including yelling and cursing at them.
The league has also fined Sarver $10 million. NBA commissioner Adam Silver claimed, “The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” adding that “We believe the outcome is the right one, taking 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.”
Silver also explained, “I am hopeful that the NBA community will use this opportunity to reflect on what this great game means to people everywhere and the values of equality, respect and inclusion that it strives to represent. Regardless of position, power or intent, we all need to recognize the corrosive and hurtful impact of racially insensitive and demeaning language and behavior. On behalf of the entire NBA, I apologize to all of those impacted by the misconduct outlined in the investigators’ report. We must do better.”
The NBA was forced into action last November following a piece by ESPN that featured several charges. The majority of the accusations were refuted by the team and Sarver, who stated, “repugnant to my nature and to the character of the Suns/Mercury workplace and I can tell you they never, ever happened.” According to the NBA, Sarver cooperated with the investigation but rejected the one-year suspension and $10 million punishment. The NBA claims that the inquiry involved 320 interviews and a review of more than 80,000 documents.
Sarver has been prohibited from accessing any NBA or WNBA facilities for a year. He is also unable to represent his teams at board meetings, participate in league decisions on business or basketball, or travel to league events. Additionally, he must complete a training course “focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace.”