Robert Sarver suspended, fine, breaking news, Phoenix Suns, reaction

The NBA’s decision to suspend Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver for a year and fine him $10 million after an investigation into allegations of racism and misogyny has drawn strong backlash.

Announcing the punishment, the league said the independent investigation found Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards as evidenced by team and corporate rules and policies.” the league.

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“This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; statements and behaviors related to sex; and harsh treatment of employees that sometimes amounted to intimidation.

Sarver’s punishment has nothing to do with that of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned from the NBA for life and ordered to sell the team when a record of disgusting racist comments appeared, which provoked outrage from the entire sports community.

A former Suns employee told ESPN reporter Baxter Holmes, the reporter who published the story, that the league “failed” those who spoke out against Sarver’s conduct.

“It’s barely a slap on the wrist and it shows us that the league really doesn’t stand for diversity, equity or inclusion,” the employee said.

“I’m grateful to have validation after being told I was crazy, ab***h and dramatic. It definitely gives me some breathing room. But I’m angry.

“The league let us down when they had the opportunity to defend their values.”

Former NBA star Jamal Crawford, who was playing for the Clippers when the Sterling news broke, tweeted that it was “Sterling 2.0” and that he had “seen this move before…” .

ESPN NBA senior writer Marc Spears firmly believed the league should have been tougher with its punishment and is “curious” to see how Phoenix’s top players will react when the team reconvenes ahead of the new season.

“I read everything that guy did.” Spears told ESPN.

“There is no excuse, he should be banned. I don’t know how he gets a pass. I don’t care about the owner’s vote. He should be banned. Then he can determine if he wants to go to the game or not.

“There’s no way he’s not banned and wants to keep this team. They need him.

“The big difference for me is that it didn’t happen during the season. If that happened in the season and Chris Paul goes through that again, then I think the players are making the right call instead of throwing away their shirts that did nothing. I was at this game. I’m curious to see what Book, DA, CP will do when he returns.

“It’s not going far. He has to go, period. I don’t see how he sits pitchside again or anything like that. He just needs to get out.

The NBA commissioned an independent investigation into Sarver, who also owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, in November 2021 after ESPN published an article citing more than 70 Suns employees who alleged Sarver had created a “toxic” work environment. in 17 years as club owner.

Sarver denied the allegations and said at the time he welcomed the investigation, which was conducted by law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

“Good leadership requires accountability,” Sarver said in a statement released by the Suns.

“For the Suns and Mercury organizations, it starts with me.

“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. I take full responsibility for what I have done. I’m sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not in line with my personal philosophy or values.

The NBA said the investigation included interviews with 320 people, including current and former Suns employees as well as Sarver himself.

More than 80,000 documents and other materials, including emails, text messages and videos, were also reviewed and the league said Sarver and the clubs cooperated fully with the process.

The investigation found that Sarver on at least five occasions during his tenure “repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others”.

He also “engaged in instances of unfair conduct towards female employees, made sexual comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women and , on several occasions, engaged in inappropriate physical conduct towards male employees”.

The investigation also substantiated instances of workplace misconduct by other Suns employees “who were not directly related to Mr. Sarver and a lack of appropriate organizational policies and controls,” the agency said. league.

The league noted that most employees involved in misconduct are no longer employed by the Suns, and in July 2021 the club hired a new human resources manager who implemented new policies to improve the culture at the venue. of work and give employees an effective way. to report a fault.

Sarver’s suspension means he will not be present at any NBA or WNBA team facility, including an office, arena or practice facility.

He may not attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity, including games, practices, or business partner activities, or be involved in club basketball activities or governance.

The league also ordered Sarver to complete a training program “focused on respect and proper conduct in the workplace.” The NBA said the $10 million fine is the maximum allowed by the league’s constitution and bylaws and will be donated “to organizations that are committed to addressing race and gender issues on and outside the league.” workplace”.

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