New York – Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver was likely to receive an even stronger sanction by the NBA for his racist, inaccurate and hostile words and actions, a significant finding by investigators, Commissioner Adam Silver said on Wednesday.
The law firm that spent nearly a year digging into the situation determined that Sarwar’s use of slurs was “not motivated by racial enmity.”
Had it not been, Silver indicated, Sarwar’s sentence — a one-year suspension and a $10 million fine — would have been far more severe.
“It was relevant,” Silver said after concluding meetings of the league’s board of governors. “I think that if they had concluded that, in fact, their conduct was motivated by racial animosity, it would have affected the end result. Here. But that is not what they found.”
And that, for Silver, is one of the key differences between the Sarwar case and then-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014, when he was banned for life and fined $2.5 million for racist comments. went.
The NBA had the option of giving Sarwar a longer ban than a one-year suspension. The $10 million fine was the maximum allowable, as was the case with Sterling’s $2.5 million fine eight years earlier; In 2019, the NBA rules were changed on the maximum fines.
Another reason Silver, who was the final judge of the penalty in the case, stopped Sarwar from prolonging or even banning him: he said he took into account a number of anonymous details that that could not be disclosed in the inquiry report. Published Tuesday, along with other elements of Sarwar’s works in his 18 years owning the Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
“These were terrible things,” Silver said. “There are many, many people with very positive things to say about him through this process. And ultimately, I took all of that into account in making the decision that the one-year suspension and fine were justified.”
A 10-month investigation into Sarwar’s behavior confirmed that he had used racist language, made sexually inappropriate remarks, left some employees – male and female – feeling uncomfortable with his words and actions, and left the workplace. would be considered as bullying.
“Uncertain isn’t strong enough,” Silver said.
But the league did not discuss Sarwar’s removal as owner during meetings of the Board of Governors. Silver permanently banned Sterling after tapes of him making racist comments were leaked to TMZ, prompting the process to force Sterling to sell the franchise.
“This case is very different,” Silver said. “Not that one was captured on tape and the other was not…. Mr. Sarwar finally admitted his behaviour.”
Sarwar did, and issued an apology on Tuesday, though he said he did not agree with all of the report’s findings.
Silver was asked about how most employees at any given company could face firing if they used racial slurs or participated in lewd actions or comments the way the investigation revealed. That’s what Sarwar did.
“It’s hard to compare those people to someone who acts inappropriately in the workplace in an anonymous fashion, which is now a huge public issue surrounding this person,” Silver said. “There’s no clear answer here other than rights. It comes with owning an NBA team, how it’s established within our constitution. What it takes to get that team out of our control is a very There’s a process involved, and it’s different from having a job. It’s just. When you really own a team, it’s a very different proposition.”
One difference between the Stirling and Sarwar cases is this: Sarwar cooperated with the League’s investigation and Stirling, in many ways, did not. Sterling sued the NBA for $1 billion in federal court after announcing his lifetime ban, saying his constitutional rights had been violated.
The report said that Sarwar “repeated or asked to repeat the N-word on at least five occasions during his tenure with Surya.”
“However, the investigation did not find that Sarwar’s conduct in any of these cases was motivated by racial hostility,” the report said, adding that investigators “made no discovery that Sarwar used this racially insensitive language.” was used with the intention of degrading or defaming.”
The Sterling investigation – from the time his audio tapes containing racist remarks to a girlfriend were released, until Silver’s announcement of a lifetime ban – took three days. The Sarwar investigation took 100 times longer, involving more than 320 interviews and review of more than 80,000 documents and other materials.
Both investigations were handled by the same firm of New York-based Wachtel, Lipton, Rosen and Katz. Attorney David Anders led both investigations.
Sarwar will be welcomed back in 2023, although Silver clarified that his words and actions will be highly scrutinized going forward.
Silver said, “I don’t have the right to remove their team. I don’t want to rest on that legal point because there can certainly be a process to remove someone’s team in this league. It’s very involved, and I eventually did.” Decided it hasn’t risen to that level. But for me, the consequences are dire here on Mr. Sarwar.”
Sarwar’s punishment is also similar to the others imposed in previous high-profile examples of wrongful words, actions, or both.
In 1993, then-Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was fined $25,000 and suspended for a year for making “racially and ethnically offensive remarks.” And last year, the NFL fined the Washington Commanders $10 million, plus investigation fees, after an investigation found the team’s workplace environment for women was, in the words of commissioner Roger Goodell, “highly unprofessional”—but Stopped suspending owner Daniel Snyder.