State Watch

NBA to launch an investigation on Pheonix Suns workplace culture

Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press

The NBA is launching an investigation into the Phoenix Suns organization and the conduct of the majority owner Robert Sarver following an extensive report from ESPN alleging he engaged in racist and misogynistic behavior.

“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,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement to The Hill. 

“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,” he added.

The league’s players’ union (NBPA) shared the same sentiment in its own statement. 

“We are continuing to review the allegations in today’s ESPN story. We view these allegations as serious and applaud the League’s decision to conduct an investigation,” the NBPA said in a statement to The Hill. 

ESPN published a report on Thursday that alleges Sarver, who has owned the Suns since 2004, has engaged in racist and misogynistic behavior within a 17-year span. 

The sports media outlet interviewed 70 current and former employees of the Suns who have described a work environment that is a “toxic and sometimes hostile workplace” under Sarver. 

In addition to the allegations of racism and misogyny, Sarver is also accused of running an organization where “employees felt they were his property.”

Sarver’s franchises, the Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, are at the top of their respective leagues.

The Suns lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals last season, and the Mercury lost the WNBA Finals earlier last month to the Chicago Sky.  

In a statement to The Hill, Suns Vice Chairman and partial owner Jahm Najafi said he was “stunned and saddened” by Sarver’s alleged behavior.

“My sincerest sympathy goes out to all whose lives and professions have been impacted,” Najafi said. “I am personally committed to helping eradicate any form of racism, sexism, and bias, which is unacceptable anywhere in our society.”

Former Suns head coach Earl Watson, who allegedly had a confrontation with Sarver about his use of a racial epithet, issued a statement on Twitter.

Tags abuse allegations Arizona Earl Watson Jahm Najafi NBA Phoenix Phoenix Suns Robert Sarver

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