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The NBA Didn’t Do Enough to Address Its Robert Sarver Problem

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Almost a whole year after ESPN published a report Detailing the extensive history of racism, misogyny, and misconduct within the Phoenix Suns organization, the NBA released results of an independent investigation into those statements that read like incredible generous to team governor Robert Sarver in his interpretations and yet downright murderous in all his reports.

The league’s long-awaited response – after polling hundreds of current and former Suns employees – was to suspend Sarver from the NBA for a year, fine him $10 million (little of his net worth), and require him to complete a behavior training program on workplace. “I regret causing this pain and these errors in judgment are not in line with my personal philosophy or my values,” Sarver said in a statement released by the team. An independent investigation suggests otherwise, laying out a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior over the course of the 18-year term for anyone who wants to look at it as a whole.

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Suspension for one year is nothing; the required rate is less than that. If the goal of NBA superficial punishment is to make a difference in what it means to work for Sarver as a Phoenix Suns employee, it does depressingly little compared to years of hardened institutional practice stemming from Sarver’s own abuse and tracking the entire path. through the personnel and legal apparatus, which consistently defended him. The obvious answer was right there, as well as an obvious precedent for the expulsion from the NBA of former Clippers governor Donald Sterling, who was forced to sell the team in 2014 after his own racist comments were recorded and circulated, marking decades of similar remarks and behavior. A few days after these records became known, Sterling was banned from the league for life. By June, Sarver, whose repeated use of the N-word required a whole special section in a league-sponsored report, may be a championship trophy winner even if he cannot manage the Suns in any official capacity.

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Sarver’s use of the N-word clarifies both his behavior and how even the report itself attempts to explain it. Common to many of Sarver’s insults is how he tries to hide behind failed attempts at a joke by quoting something someone else said or some big misunderstanding. The first incident investigated was when Sarver used the N-word at a free agent recruiting meeting in 2004. Four witnesses described it as an “uncomfortable moment”. One of these witnesses bluntly told Sarver that he would never use the word again, even when quoting someone else. According to the investigation, it was confirmed that he used it at least four more times in the presence of team members.

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Sarver claimed he did not remember most of them.

Confusing conclusion according to the report: “The investigation does not find that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with intent to humiliate or vilify.”

What exactly is the burden of proof here? Sterling was caught on tape saying some version of what people in and out of the NBA (including longtime ally David Stern) knew he had been saying for decades and was almost immediately kicked out of the league for it. Hundreds of people have described all the ways Sarver has slandered, discriminated against and abused his employees, and he takes a year off and attends a seminar. The value of any punishment lies either in discouraging other people from doing the same heinous deeds, or in preventing a single perpetrator from repeating similar deeds. The League did neither. He ordered an investigation, reviewed abuse histories from nearly every level of the Suns organization, and made it unmistakably clear that he would protect Sarver and league partners like him.

This is a man who tried to prevent a pregnant employee from doing her job, in particular, because of her motherhood. When a witness attempted to speak about the Sarver incident, the governor called the witness to a meeting, accompanied by a lawyer, to scold the witness for questioning. This is the man who insisted on interrupting a 2021 business meeting to tell a room full of employees how he first learned about oral sex. He talked to Suns employees and their bodies in a sexy way. He emailed pornography to people he worked with. He went to the shower, which he did not belong in, and stripped naked to stand in front of a male employee. The four-page report lists Sarver’s offensive or derogatory comments about women working for the Suns organization.

These are unequivocal facts, confirmed by the investigation and explained in detail – along with how embarrassing Sarver’s actions made the people around him. “The investigation found that the Suns organization was a difficult place for women to work,” the report says, “especially if they have small children, and that Sun executives sometimes treated female employees differently because of their gender and/or pregnancy. . “. This conclusion should be the end of the discussion. Sarver oversaw not only the Suns and many of the women who work for the organization in a variety of roles, but also his WNBA partner’s Mercury franchise. And a year later, Sarver, a 60-year-old man with years of abuse in the workplace, will once again be in charge of both.

It took the league’s office the best part of a year to go over every gruesome detail needed to make massive and necessary changes to one of its franchises. Instead, its officials chose to do almost nothing at all. A $10 million fine—even if it’s the largest amount allowed by the NBA constitution—shouldn’t make anyone more comfortable with a job with the Suns today or with the prospect of a team job in the future. The root cause is still there; he just won’t be in the office for a while.



Source: www.theringer.com

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