The report, commissioned by the NBA last fall after an ESPN report about Sarver’s behavior, found the Suns owner had “on at least five occasions during his tenure with the Suns/Mercury organization, repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others.”
He also “engaged in instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees, made many sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women, and on several occasions engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.”
“I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership. But this isn’t right. There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don’t matter if you own the team or play for the team. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this aint it.”
According to the NBA, 320 current and former employees who worked for Sarver were interviewed. The NBA said Sarver and the Suns and Mercury organizations cooperated with the investigation.
Sarver, who has been the Suns’ and Mercury’s majority owner since 2004, cannot have any involvement with the team during the yearlong suspension and must complete a workplace training program. The $10 million fine is the maximum allowed as determined by the NBA by-laws.
Paul, a 12-time All-Star who has played for the Suns since 2020, also said the NBA’s punishment should have been more severe.
“I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected.”
In 2014, then Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was given a lifetime ban by the NBA and forced to sell the franchise after being recorded making racist remarks.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who had not long assumed his role before the Sterling allegations came to light, explained why Sarver wasn’t given a lifetime ban for his comments.
“Looking back over his track record of hiring, his track record of support for particular employees, what the actual people said about him — while there were terrible things — there were also many, many people who had very positive things to say about him through this process. I took all of that into account.
“There are particular rights here, somebody who owns an NBA team as opposed to somebody who’s an employee. The equivalent of a $10 million fine and a one-year suspension, I don’t know how to measure that against a job. I don’t have the right to take away his team … but to me, the consequences are severe.”