NBPA Reacts to Robert Sarver’s Suspension For ‘Deplorable Behavior’

The NBA’s announcement that Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver would be suspended for one year and be fined $10 million has been met with mixed reviews from fans, players, and media.

In the wake of the NBA’s judgment, LeBron James, Suns point guard and former players union president Cris Paul, and the NBPA all issued their own statements about the suspension and fine. Paul said he was “horrified and disappointed” by the report from the Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz law firm that conducted the investigation.

Although James “loves this League” and “deeply respects our leadership,” he believes that the “League definitely got this wrong.” James went on to say that “there is no place in this League for that kind of behavior,” explicitly rallying against “misogyny, sexism, and racism in any workplace.”

The NBPA, led by Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio, also released a statement. Like James, Tremaglio said Sarver’s “reported actions and conduct are horrible” and that Sarver’s workplace misconduct “have no place in our sport or any workplace for that matter.” Tremaglio took over leadership as the players union leader after Michele Roberts retired in September 2021.

After the League met with its Board of Governors in New York, League commissioner Adam Silver knew that the NBA’s independent investigation would garner those responses. He’s even admitted to having “private conversations” about what the independent investigators found. He also said he would give players leeway “to speak directly about how they feel.”

“I’d only say disheartening,” said Silver in describing the players’ reaction to the investigation’s findings, per Arizona Central. “Same reaction I’ve had in many cases. I think these are — I think saddened, as I was, I think, for those players to see that we continue to deal with these issues.

“Look, I think it’s no secret this is a league where roughly 80 percent of our players are Black. More than half our coaches are Black. I will say that none of them maybe are as shocked as I am, living their lives, that I don’t think they’re reading this saying, oh, my God, I can’t believe this happens.”

Sarver, the majority owner of the Suns and Mercury, was fined $10 million and suspended for a year for “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies” that were found during a 10-month investigation over his 18-year tenure as a Suns team owner. Phoenix has 14 players that are either Black or mixed race out of their 16-man roster. The Suns also employ a Black head coach (Monty Williams) and general manager (James Jones).

In a separate statement Sarver released on Tuesday, Sarver said that he disagreed with “some of the particulars” that the investigators found but ultimately accepts “the consequences” of the League’s decision.

“Good leadership requires accountability,” Sarver said in a statement released by the Suns. “For the Suns and Mercury organizations, that begins with me. 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. 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.”

Silver also said he didn’t have “the right” to take away the Suns and Mercury from Sarver. While Sarver is banned from participating in any NBA or WNBA team activities, including games, practices, or business partner activity, he will be compelled to complete a training program focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace.

“In terms of future behavior, there’s no question he is on notice,” Silver continued. “He knows that. I also think, though, if you look at the chronology of the report, most of this activity goes back, most of the inappropriate activity goes back many years.”

The Suns begin their season against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 19.

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