The NBA has reached a conclusion on the investigation of Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.
On Tuesday, the league officially announced that Sarver will be suspended from the Suns and Mercury organizations for one year. Sarver has also received a the maximum-allowed fine of $10 million and will have to complete a training program that focuses on appropriate workplace conduct.
Many believed when ESPN first dropped their bombshell report on Sarver back in 2021 that the NBA could eventually force Sarver to sell the franchise (as they did with former-Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014). The decision now not to do so comes as a surprise, especially after the findings the league shared in their press release.
As stated in the report, 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. 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.”
More specifically, the league cited five instances where Sarver reportedly used the N-word “when recounting the statements of others” and that he made several “sex-related” comments in the workplace. He also inappropriately commented on the physical appearance of his female employees and engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward certain male employees.
While we may not know what is in the full report at this time, it surely is head-scratching that Sarver did not receive an even harsher penalty. Not only did he break several league rules, but his outright sexist and racist acts should have no place in the NBA. I’m very curious to see how Adam Silver justifies this ruling move forward because it certainly feels like the league chose a light punishment.