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Suns’ owner Sarver suspended from NBA/WNBA for one year, fined $10 million

Corey Robinson and Kurt Helin discuss Robert Sarver's suspension and whether stiffer punishment will be fought for by the Mercury and Suns players.

After nearly a year-long investigation, the NBA released a statement on Tuesday that detailed their findings in regards to Robert Sarver and both Phoenix professional basketball teams.

The investigation, which included interviews with 320 individuals and more than 80,000 documents, yielded a number of findings of Sarver’s inappropriate workplace behavior, including:

  • The use of the N-word when repeating the statements of others on at least five separate occasions.
  • Sex-related comments in the workplace.
  • Inappropriate comments on the physical appearance of women.
  • Inappropriate physical conduct toward men.
  • Demeaning and harsh treatment of employees.

As a result of the investigation, Sarver was suspended for one year, which means that he won’t be allowed at any NBA/WNBA event facility, allowed to represent the Suns or Mercury in any way, or be involved with any business or basketball operations within either organization or either league. Sarver was also fined $10 million and will be required to complete a training program that focuses on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace.

$10 million is the maximum amount that the NBA is allowed to fine. They will donate the money to organizations that are focused on racial and gender-based issues both in and out of the workplace.

“While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA’s report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that offended our employees,” Sarver said in a statement. “I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing 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. This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate a capacity to learn and grow as we continue to build a working culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.”

The Phoenix Suns released this statement:

The report indicates that 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.”

Along with those findings, the investigation did a deeper dive into workplace misconduct within the Suns’ organization that wasn’t related to Sarver, where they found evidence of racial insensitivity, mistreatment of female employees, inappropriate comments on sex or sexual orientation, and other disrespectful communication.

Commissioner Adam Silver commented on the result of the investigation in the NBA’s press release.

“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” Silver said. “We believe the outcome is the right one, taking into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to upholding proper standards in NBA workplaces.

“I am hopeful that the NBA community will use this opportunity to reflect on what this great game means to people everywhere and the values of equality, respect and inclusion that it strives to represent. Regardless of position, power or intent, we all need to recognize the corrosive and hurtful impact of racially insensitive and demeaning language and behavior. On behalf of the entire NBA, I apologize to all of those impacted by the misconduct outlined in the investigators’ report. We must do better.”

The full report can be downloaded from this link: