One week after the NBA suspended Robert Sarver for a year and fined him $10 million, the embattled owner announced plans Wednesday to sell the WNBA’s Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.
“I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for Sun and Mercury,” Sarver said in a statement.
The NBA last week released a 43-page report based on a 10-month investigation by an independent law firm into allegations of racism, misogyny and other workplace misconduct against Sarver. Among the most damning findings from 320 interviews and the review of more than 80,000 documents was evidence that Sarver “said the N-word at least five times while repeating or paraphrasing what someone said.” Black repeated,” despite multiple warnings that he might not say the N-word, even when someone else mentions it.”
The investigation revealed an extensive list of instances in which Sarver was found to have harassed both male and female employees. In one instance, according to the report, he threatened the role of a pregnant employee because “a child needs their mom, not their dad,” and then requested a meeting with a lawyer who told the woman that Sarver had “done no something wrong.” On another occasion, he “exposed his genitals to a kneeling male employee,” the report said. The investigation laid out in detail many more offences.
Immediately following his suspension and fine, Sarver said last week in a statement, “While I agree with some of the details in the NBA report, I want to apologize for my words and actions offense to our employees. I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values.”
“I accept the consequences of the NBA’s decision,” he said, vowing to “learn and grow” in his absence.
Given the number of allegations and evidence, the NBA came under heavy criticism for not banning Sarver for life, as it did in light of the racist remarks of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014.
The National Basketball Players Association was among the league’s harshest critics. Appearing on ESPN’s “NBA Today,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio called for a lifetime ban last Friday.
“I am speaking for our players. … We want to make it very clear that we do not want him back in a position where he is going to affect our players and those who serve our players on a daily basis,” said she
Specifically, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James tweeted last week, “There is no place in this league for that kind of behavior. I love the league and I respect our leadership. But this is not right .”
Suns star and former NBPA president Chris Paul, who also played for the Clippers in 2014, said, “I think the sanctions fell short when we really got to grips with what we can agree was appalling behavior.”
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