Phoenix Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi, who owns the second-largest share of the team, released an open letter Thursday night calling for the resignation of owner Robert Sarver.
The NBA suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million on Tuesday following an investigation into allegations he created a toxic work environment in Phoenix. Specifically, the NBA’s report said Sarver used the “N-word” on at least five occasions, sexually harassed female employees and yelled and cursed at workers.
“I cannot in good judgment sit back and allow our children and future generations of fans think that this behavior is tolerated because of wealth and privilege,” Najafi wrote. “Therefore, in accordance with my commitment to helping eradicate any form of racism, sexism and bias, as Vice Chairman of the Phoenix Suns, I am calling for the resignation of Robert Sarver.”
Najafi said he had “no interest” in becoming the managing partner of Phoenix’s ownership group but would “work tirelessly to ensure the next team steward treats all stakeholders with dignity, professionalism and respect.”
He also thanked the Suns employees and players who spoke up and participated in the NBA’s investigation, which came about after an ESPN report last year outlined allegations that Sarver was known for making racist and sexist remarks to team employees in the 18 years he has owned the franchise.
Najafi is an Iranian-American businessman who has partnered with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick on social justice causes in the past.
Earlier Thursday, ESPN reported that the Suns will appoint vice chairman and minority owner Sam Garvin as their interim governor for the year Sarver is suspended.
–Field Level Media