The NBA has fined Phoenix Suns and Mercury managing partner Robert Sarver $10 million and suspended him for a year after an independent investigation found he engaged in hostile, racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior. The report, commissioned by the NBA last fall, found Sarver had “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and League rules and policies. This conduct included 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 league probe was sparked by a Nov. 4 ESPN story chronicling long-standing allegations of racism and misogyny within the Phoenix basketball operation. The NBA commissioned a New York-based law firm, Watchell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, to lead its probe of Sarver, and investigators interviewed 320 people, including current and former team employees. Sarver, team management and employees “cooperated fully with the investigative process,” according to the NBA.
BREAKING: The NBA has suspended Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver for one year, plus fined him $10 million. An investigation found that he had engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.” https://t.co/9euLbSoh9l pic.twitter.com/kOnDS2aywf — AP Sports (@AP_Sports) September 13, 2022
Racial Slurs, Sexist Remarks, Bullying The probe found that Sarver, who has been managing partner of the franchise for 18 years, “on at least five occasions” repeated “the N-word when recounting the statements of others.” He was also found to have “engaged in instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees, made many sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women,” the NBA found. The NBA executive also “engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees” that “constituted bullying,” the league found.
NBA key findings on Robert Sarver, including saying the N-word several times and making sexual related comments in workplace. pic.twitter.com/JxrRpxD4qX — Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) September 13, 2022
“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. Suspended. Fined. Barred For the next year, Sarver will be barred from all NBA and WNBA buildings, “including any office, arena, or practice facility,” according to a league statement. He also won’t be allowed to participate in any NBA or WNBA event, represent the team in any capacity, have involvement in any team business or basketball operations or play any role in any league governance, the NBA said. The $10 million fine is the maximum allowed under league rules, the NBA said, and is the biggest financial penalty ever handed down to one person in pro basketball history. Sarver Apologizes Sarver said he took issue with some aspects of the NBA report, but apologizes nonetheless. “Good leadership requires accountability. For the Suns and Mercury organizations, that begins with me,” he said in a statement.