Robert Sarver, the owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Pheonix Mercury, has been suspended for one year and fined $10 million by the league.
In an announcement on Tuesday, the NBA stated an investigation showed that Sarver used the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others.”
In addition, Sarver was found to exhibit “instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees,” including “sex-related comments” and comments on their appearances.
The investigation is connected to an ESPN story published in November 2021 highlighting allegations of racism and misogyny.
Sarver resisted the thought of a fine and suspension, despite New York-based law firm Wachtell Lipton finding Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and league rules and policies.”
Despite his use of the n-word and “sex-related comments,” the NBA states, “the investigation made no finding that Mr. Sarver’s workplace misconduct was motivated by racial or gender-based animus.”
“While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA’s report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that offended our employees,” Sarver said in a statement. “I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values.
“I accept the consequences of the NBA’s decision. This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate a capacity to learn and grow as we continue to build a working culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.”
The Suns, as an organization, would release their own separate statement.