ESPN came out with a scathing report earlier on Thursday claiming racism and sexism in the part of embattled Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.
More than 70 current and former member of the Suns’ organization accused Sarver of creating a toxic culture within the workplace, including multiple alleged incidents of him using both racist and sexist language, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.
Later on Thursday, the NBA released a statement indicating that it has initiated an investigation into the matter.
“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 executive vice president of communications Mike Bass said in a statement. “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.”
The NBA also announced that it has contracted an outside law firm by the name of Wachtell Lipton to conduct said investigation.
Robert Sarver “welcomes” investigation into allegations
“I would entirely welcome an impartial NBA investigation which may prove our only outlet for clearing my name and the reputation of an organization of which I’m so very proud,” the owner said.
It’s not yet known how long said investigation might last and what the findings might be. But in the initial report, one current employee of the Suns said “if the commissioner comes in and investigates to see what the f**k is going on in Phoenix, he would be appalled.”
The backdrop here is former members of the organization speaking out publicly. That includes former Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, who served in said role from 2013-18. He worked directly with Robert Sarver in that role. While McDonough didn’t touch on the allegations themselves, he did give us an inkling as to what the investigation might show.
Robert Sarver, 60, purchased the Suns for a then-NBA record $401 million back in 2004. Despite Phoenix earning a surprise trip to the NBA Finals last season, the owner is seen as an enigmatic figure within the local community. This won’t help matters.
In terms of what potential punishment might be coming should the NBA conclude that the allegations are true, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we saw a repeat of the Donald Sterling situation from back in 2014. The now-former Los Angeles Clippers owner was forced to sell the team after a recording of racially incentive remarks from him was released by TMZ Sports.