Robert Sarver, owner of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, was given a one-year suspension and a $10 million fine by the NBA. He was penalized after an inquiry into allegations of a hostile workplace atmosphere within the Suns’ organization that lasted almost a year. Individuals like him are the ideal illustration of how the wealthy are taking advantage of sports’ allure without upholding their integrity.
“The independent investigation found that Mr. Sarver ‘engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and League rules and policies,” the NBA’s statement on the suspension read. “This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language, unequal treatment of female employees, sexual-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”
Sarver is prohibited from entering any NBA or WNBA facilities and from taking part in any public or private NBA or WNBA events or activities for the duration of the one-year suspension. Throughout Sarver’s 18-year ownership, there have been reports of a hostile work environment, which included racist implications, sexist comments and gender discrimination.
He is accused of recurrent use of the N-word, boasting in public about his personal sex life, and even reportedly asking a woman whether he “owned” her to decide whether she was a Suns’ employee. According to an ESPN report based on 70 interviews with current and former employees, including a co-owner, Sarver was accused of being both racist and misogynistic on numerous occasions.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) September 13, 2022
The Suns released a statement on Tuesday that Sarver, “recognized that at times during his eighteen years of ownership, his conduct did not reflect his, or the Suns’ values.” These statements and the punishments are not strict enough. Considering the league’s extensive findings of racism, misogyny, and aggressive behavior, it was a modest punishment. Sadly, Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, must have felt that this was the best he could do.