NBA Suspends Phoenix Suns Owner Robert Sarver For One Year, Fines Him $10 Million

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Seth Roy Contributor
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Owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, Robert Sarver, has been suspended for one year and fined $10 million after a report found him guilty of engaging in racist and misogynistic language inside the workplace.

A 43-page report by Wachtell, Lipson, Rosen and Katz, concluded that Sarver “frequently engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees” including saying “the N-word at least five times.” In one 2013 instance, Sarver reportedly told a staff member he preferred to hire a black head coach because “these [N-words] need an [N-word],” according to the report.

The report highlights a 2016 incident where Sarver complained to a black Suns coach about a Golden State Warriors player using the slur “without receiving a technical foul.” After the incident, Sarver allegedly said, “I can’t say [N-word, N-word, N-word]?” Sarver then reportedly sent an email to the league office complaining about the officiating of the game. In the email, Sarver reportedly quoted the Warriors player who used the word and spelled out the slur with an “a” at the end of it, according to the report.

Along with the frequent usage of the slur, the independent investigation of 320 people and over 80,000 documents found that Sarver also allegedly made sexual comments to female staffers. Once, Sarver was reportedly getting ready to take a shower at the team facility when he told a female employee, “you gotta get out of here . . . you’ve never seen anything this big.” The comment was described by the female employee as “inappropriate.”

In another instance, Sarver reportedly walked by a female employee who had undergone a breast enhancement procedure and said, “did you get an upgrade this summer?” The staffer told the investigators that his comments to her were both shocking and offensive, according to the report. (RELATED: Dak Prescott Suffers Thumb Injury, Will Miss Several Weeks. Is The Team Doomed?)

The stockpile of bad behavior by Sarver was too much for NBA commissioner Adam Silver to withstand. “The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing. 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 said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”

Sarver will have to complete a training program on “respect and appropriate conduct” prior to his return, according to ESPN.

It’s quite surprising that Silver only chose to suspend Sarver for one year. It seems to be a slap on the wrist given Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban from the league for racially-charged comments back in 2014.