NBA fails due to misconduct by Suns owner Robert Sarver

By agreeing to sell your franchise, Robert Sarver, owner of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury While the NBA may be trying to free itself from its grievous miscarriage of justice, we must be reminded that it would not be without the bravery of those who risked their livelihoods to bring their crimes to light. inserted.

It seems the NBA would never have set Sarwar’s feet on fire had it not been for over 70 of his current and former employees. Disclosure of allegations of racism, misogyny and other workplace misconduct on ESPN’s Baxter HolmesAllegations that were published in November 2021. The league admitted that it had not received a single tip related to Sarwar’s behavior, in response to which an anonymous hotline was set up. Sports Illustrated’s 2018 investigation into sexual harassment and abuse allegations In Dallas Mavericks‘ organization.

If the NBA is serious about its commitment to social justice, the league must ask itself: are we doing enough to convince our employees that we are committed to providing their employees with a safe and equitable workplace? Are?

Independent inquiry into Sarwar’s misconduct, launched only after ESPN revealed, detailed examples of harassment during his 18-year tenure, from confirmation he used the n-word in a free-agent recruitment pitch during his first season as team owner in 2004. used to confirm their sexual use. Clear language at the 2021 meeting. It is hard to believe that the League was unaware of Sarwar’s crimes.

also with 43 page report Filled with evidence to the contrary, the NBA backed its independent law firm’s determination to “make no discovery that Sarwar’s conduct was motivated by racial or gender-based hostility”.

Commissioner Adam Silver did not add himself to the glory when he said, “Here are the exclusive rights of someone who owns an NBA team, as opposed to an employee.” His explanation that employees and franchise owners are “held to the same standard of absolutely … fair conduct”, noting the $10 million fine against Sarwar in lieu of a one-year suspension and lifetime ban, was severely undermined. became flat.

It put the responsibility back on whistleblowers, some of whom still work for sonsForgive and forget.

Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarwar announced plans to sell both franchises amid their reprehensible conduct.  (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarwar announced plans to sell both franchises amid their reprehensible conduct. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Finally, let’s talk about money. PayPal has vowed not to renew its longtime partnership with Sun and Mercury if Sarwar returns to his post at the end of the suspension. a single member of the server’s ownership group spoke against the leadership of the managing partner, More league and team sponsors were ready to stop associating with Phoenix franchises, Per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, The National Basketball Players Association had just launched their protest, demanding Sarwar’s resignation. And Sarwar finally turned.

Perhaps it was the NBA’s hope at all times, that the financial fallout from Sarver’s scandal would provide enough pressure to force his ouster, and that the league’s 29 other ownership groups could have avoided it. Further repercussions likely as a result of the discovery process behind potentially contentious legal battles,

Although we came here, it is not because the NBA did everything possible to protect the rights of its employees.

in this Former TMZ Publishing Tapes Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling’s Racist Comment, After That players protest And sponsors, before the NBA issued a lifetime ban. Sterling’s conduct was no secret, given that he had historically paid a pair housing discrimination lawsuits in the last decade. Still, it was Shelley Sterling, not the league, who helped her husband out, legally considering him mentally unfit to make decisions and pledged not to sue the NBA as part of his sale.

Similarly, Sports Illustrated’s report revealed widespread sexual harassment, abuse and other misconduct within the Mavericks organization. Resultant independent investigation of the NBA revealed that club owner Mark Cuban had prior knowledge of the repeated sexual assault of an employee – and violent threats against his coworkers – as well as two domestic violence acts committed by another employee, including a co-worker was. Cuba denies prior knowledge of team president and CEO Terdema Usseri”15 Inappropriate workplace conduct towards female employees,” In-spite of this The Dallas Morning News uncovers an internal investigation In Usseri’s crimes before the purchase of the team by Cuba.

“Sorry. It doesn’t work that way,” said Melissa Weisenhopt, a marketing manager for Mavericks from 2010-14 and one of Ussery’s accusers, SI. wrote for, “When I worked on the business side of Mavs, all marketing, promotional and broadcast decisions went through you. Nothing was decided without your approval.”

Under Cuba’s leadership, “many employees said the company’s apparent inaction … fueled their belief that it was pointless to file any human resources complaint.” In Sarwar’s case, the culture was nearly identical: “Employees were reluctant to report concerns and HR was hesitant to complete surveys.”

As for Sterling, his racism was widely publicized long before 2014. In addition to housing discrimination lawsuits, one of the sport’s all-time greats, Elgin Baylor, who spent 22 years of his post-game career as Clippers general manager, made several claims of racial discrimination in a lawsuit against Sterling.

In each case, the NBA either conducted no investigation or claimed that it had no prior knowledge of widespread misconduct. The league should be able to explain why it didn’t take action or didn’t know. We would not like the answers, as was the case when Silver mentioned them in his news conference. Employees rightly believe that their voices will not be heard because the power dynamics are heavily tilted towards NBA franchise owners, and the league office is up to them, even when misconduct emerges.

It took the courage of Sarver’s staff to come forward with their accounts as a victim of harassment, the relentless reporting of Holmes to uncover the sordid details, a 10-month independent investigation into all of this, and yet the NBA team. The owner was not caught. account. This was followed by more media coverage, condemnation of the players, a doctrinal minority owner and the cancellation of the sponsorship to force the hand of the savers.

Nevertheless, Sarwar will walk with the fortune he has built on the backs of those he defames. style as sterling told Shelburne About her husband in 2019, “He’s happy to sell the team now. Yeah. He tells a lot of people. He says, ‘You know, I had to sell the team, but I feel like I’m a tree And I got down on a pile of gold.'”

There are certainly yet more misconducts uncovered in the NBA, or else a league that prides itself on progressivism would have received a three-quarters vote to exclude the worst among its club owners. We can only hope that his subordinates are brave enough to tell their stories, because if we’ve learned anything from this mess, outside forces are mightily ready to be held accountable if the NBA isn’t.


ben rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.