Robert Sarver is the owner of the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury. The NBA discontinued him for a year and fined him $10 million because he did things the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.”
The league’s report came out on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), almost a year after the NBA asked a law firm to look into shares that Sarver had a past of racist, misogynistic, and hostile incidents during his nearly 20 years of running the team.
Sarver said he would “accept the effects of the league’s decision” and apologized for “words and acts that offended our employees.” Still, he also said he disagreed with some of the report’s findings.
The report said that Sarver “repeated or seemed to repeat the N-word at least five times during his time with the Suns.” It also noted that the investigation “makes no finding that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with the intent to demean or denigrate.”
The study also found that Sarver talked down to female employees. For example, he told a pregnant employee that she wouldn’t able to do her job after she had a baby. He also made inappropriate jokes about sex and anatomy and yelled and cursed at employees in ways that “under workplace standards” would considered bullying.
NBA rules say that a fine of $10 million is the most that can be given
Sarver said, “I take full obligation for what I’ve done.” “I’m sorry I’ve caused you pain, and these mistakes don’t fit with my philosophy or values. It is a chance for me to show that I’m willing to learn and grow as we resume to build a workplace where you feel welcome and appreciated.”
The league said Sarver couldn’t be at any NBA or WNBA team facility, like an office, arena, or practice facility. He also can’t attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity. Like a game, practice, or business partner event. He also can’t represent the Suns or Mercury in any public or private way or have anything to do with. How the Suns or Mercury run their business or basketball operations.
The league said it would give the $10 million to “organizations that committed to addressing race. And gender-based problems in and out of the workplace.”
“The things said and done described in the independent investigation’s findings are troubling and disappointing,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We think the result is right, considering all the facts, circumstances. And context that came to light during the 18-year investigation and our commitment to keeping proper standards in NBA workplaces.”
It’s the second-biggest punishment the NBA has ever given to a team owner. After Donald Sterling banned for life by Adam Silver in 2014. Sterling made racist comments in a recorded conversation. As a result, he had fined $2.5 million, which was the most that could be done at the time. He was also force to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.