*ESPN published an explosive piece on Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, detailing his racist and misogynist antics throughout his 17-year tenure.
The outlet spoke to more than 70 current and former Phoenix Suns employees who “revealed accusations of racism and misogyny against owner Robert Sarver,” ESPN tweeted on Nov. 4.
Check out the post below.
Interviews with more than 70 current and former Phoenix Suns employees revealed accusations of racism and misogyny against owner Robert Sarver.
— ESPN (@espn) November 4, 2021
Below, per CBS, are highlights from the ESPN report:
- Sarver repeatedly said the N-word in the coaches room after a loss against the Golden State Warriors in 2016, complaining that Draymond Green, who is Black, said it during the game. Then-coach Earl Watson told him, “You can’t f—ing say that.”
- At least six Suns employees described Sarver saying the N-word aloud when repeating something a Black player had said.
- In telling a Suns employee that he wanted to hire Lindsey Hunter, who is Black, instead of Dan Majerle, who is white, as coach in 2013, Sarver said, “These [N-words] need a [N-word],” according to an executive who heard the conversation.
- As the Suns tried to sign LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015, they knew that he would like to play near his children in Texas. Sarver said then that they needed to get Phoenix-area strippers pregnant with NBA-player children so the team could have an edge in recruiting. “A lot of the stuff he says is to get a big reaction,” a former employee said. “And who’s going to tell him that he can’t? He speaks in threats. He likes that awkwardness. He likes people to know that he’s in charge. He wants control. He wants control of every situation and every person.”
- During Watson’s first season, the coach was asked to suggest areas in which the organization could improve. When he said that the Suns could use more diversity, Sarver responded, “I don’t like diversity,” according to Watson and a basketball operations employee, explaining that he believes diversity makes it more difficult for people to agree on things.
- Sarver made lewd comments in all-staff meetings, according to more than a dozen employees. Examples include talking about his wife performing oral sex on him and claiming that he wears extra-large condoms. “Women have very little value,” said a woman who used to work for the team, describing how she felt when she was there. “Women are possessions. And I think we’re nowhere close to where he thinks men are.”
- A woman who used to work for the Suns said that, after a male coworker physically assaulted her outside of the office, all the organization did was move her desk back one row. “I couldn’t escape,” she said. “It was a joke. An absolute joke.” According to the female employee, her assaulter’s desk remained less than 10 feet away.
- A former human resources representative said, “I would say [to employees seeking help], ‘Let’s go take a walk. Because if they see you being here, they’re gonna come after you.'” Another former HR rep said that it was “sort of a culture of complicity. Which I was a part of. And I hate saying that.”
In a statement released through his legal team, Sarver denied using a racial slur. “I’ve never called anyone or any group of people the n-word,” he said. “I don’t use that word. It is abhorrent and ugly and denigrating and against everything I believe in.”
On October 22, Sarver released a statement ahead of the ESPN report, saying “I am wholly shocked by some of the allegations purported by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations,” Sarver said.
“While I can’t begin to know how to respond to some of the vague suggestions made by mostly anonymous voices, I can certainly tell you that some of the claims I find completely repugnant to my nature and to the character of the Suns/Mercury workplace and I can tell you they never, ever happened.”
The Suns released a statement on Thursday, saying: “The allegations contained in today’s ESPN article are extremely serious, and we have directed the Wachtell Lipton law firm to commence a comprehensive investigation,” the league announced, as reported by TMZ. “The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees. Once the investigation is completed, its findings will provide the basis for any league action.”
You can read the full ESPN investigative report here.