NBA Suspends Suns and Mercury Owner Robert Sarver For One Year

Following an investigation into the workplace culture of the Phoenix Suns spurned by a hard-hitting report ESPN released last year on November 4, the NBA announced that Phoenix Suns and Mercury majority owner Robert Sarver had been suspended from both the organizations he governs for one year and also received a $10 million suspension from the NBA. 

The investigation found that Robert Sarver was guilty of many offenses, including sexual harassment, racial prejudice, unequal treatment of female employees, and verbal abuse.

The NBA said Sarver “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.”

The NBA found that Sarver “engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees, including by yelling and cursing at them.”

The independent investigation from the NBA also revealed that Sarver was guilty of saying the N-Word “on at least five occasions” when recounting the statements of others. 

Most of the Phoenix Suns employees under investigation for engaging in workplace misconduct over the last 18-years were no longer employed by the Suns organization by the beginning of the NBA’s independent investigation. The terms of Sarver’s suspension dictate that he is barred from being present at any NBA or WNBA facility and that he may not attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity. 

The Phoenix Suns released a press release last October before the investigation into their workplace practices to deny any allegations of workplace misconduct by anyone in the Phoenix Suns front office.

The investigation was based on information gathered from 320 individual interviews and over 80,000 documents. Sarver’s suspension is the latest in the NBA’s effort to hold owners accountable for their actions.