NBA must take tougher action on Robert Sarver



NBA Analytics Network

Earlier this week, the NBA announced its sanction for the investigation of Phoenix Suns and WNBA Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver. Sarver faced allegations of racism and misogyny during his 17 years as owner. The investigation was opened after a report appeared on ESPN in November 2021. As a result of the investigation, Sarver was fined $10 million and suspended for one year.

“Investigation revealed that during his time with the Suns and Mercury, Sarver used the N-word at least five times ‘when recounting the statements of others’. There were also ‘cases of unfair conduct towards employees,” the NBA said in its statement, including “gender-related comments” and inappropriate comments about employee appearance.

Although Sarver cooperated with the investigation, he was not convinced that he deserved the punishment he received from the league. This comes despite the findings of the investigation by New York-based law firm Wachtell Lipton, which found he “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace norms, such as reflected in team and league rules and policies.”

“While I disagree with certain details of the NBA report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that have offended our employees,” Sarver said in a statement via the Suns. “I take full responsibility for what I did. I’m sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not in line with my personal philosophy or values.

“I accept the consequences of the NBA’s decision. This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate an ability to learn and grow as we continue to build a work culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.

LATEST NBA NEWS AND TRADE RUMOR: Updates on Phoenix Suns and Robert Sarver

Sarver is almost certainly the only one who thinks he didn’t deserve to be punished like this. In fact, a large number of people believe that he got away with it easily and that harsher punishments should be meted out to him.

Worrying about the comfort of your workplace is something no one should have to put up with. The environment that Sarver created and some of the things that he allegedly did are preposterous and the people who still work for the Suns and Mercury have every right to feel what they think of the decision whether it be anger or of disappointment.

“It’s barely a pat on the wrist and shows us that the league really doesn’t stand for diversity, fairness or inclusion,” a former staffer who spoke to ESPN told ESPN for the initial story from 2021. “I’m grateful to have validation after I was told I was crazy, ab—- and that I was dramatic. It definitely gives me some breathing room.

“But I am angry. The league let us down when they had the opportunity to defend its values.

LATEST NBA NEWS AND TRADE RUMOR: Updates on Phoenix Suns and Robert Sarver

It’s a feeling that many people share. All-Star and future Hall of Famer Chris Paul is one of the people who fall into this camp. He took to Twitter to share his opinion on the matter as he was horrified and disappointed by what he had read in the report.

Paul also believes that the punishment does not fit the crime.

This is the second time Paul has played for a team whose owner has broken league rules. Donald Sterling has been removed from his role as owner of the LA Clippers for racist comments he made on video.

Paul isn’t the only player to speak his mind, as his friend, LeBron James, also took to Twitter to share his opinion.

While Sarver is only suspended for a year, many parties hope he will never be allowed to return to his post. Minority owner and vice-chairman Jahm Najafi called for Sarver’s resignation in a statement released late Thursday.

LATEST NBA NEWS AND TRADE RUMOR: Updates on Phoenix Suns and Robert Sarver

PayPal, which has a sponsorship deal with the Suns, has also threatened to withdraw their deal if Sarver does not resign. PayPal CEO/President Dan Shulman made his position very clear in a statement Friday morning.

“PayPal is a values-driven company and has a strong track record in the fight against racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination. We have reviewed the report of the NBA’s independent investigation into the owner of the Phoenix Suns , Robert Sarver, and found his conduct unacceptable and contrary to our values.

“PayPal’s sponsorship with the Suns is set to expire at the end of the current season. In light of the findings of the NBA’s investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship if Robert Sarver remains involved with the Suns organization, after serving his suspension.

LATEST NBA NEWS AND TRADE RUMOR: Updates on Phoenix Suns and Robert Sarver

It will be interesting to see if other companies take a similar stance to PayPal. Money talks at the end of the day and with enough backlash, the league could step in again and change its decision. However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that he had no authority to remove Sarver’s ownership.