Silver says the NBA has been considering suspending Sarver for over a year

New York (AFP) – Phoenix Suns owner Adam Silver said it is possible that Robert Sarver may have escaped stronger penalties by the NBA for his racist and misogynistic words and actions due to one major conclusion by investigators.

The law firm that spent nearly a year researching the situation decided that Sarver’s use of slander was “not motivated by racial hostility.”

If not, Silver noted, Sarver’s penalty – a year’s suspension and a $10 million fine – would have been much harsher.

“It was appropriate,” Silver said after wrapping up the league’s board of governors meetings. “I think if they had found that his behavior was in fact motivated by racial hostility, that certainly would have affected the bottom line here. But that’s not what they found.”

That, for Silver, is one of the main differences between Sarver’s case and the case surrounding then-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014, when he was banned for life and fined $2.5 million for racist comments.

Silver said some players have reached out to him to express their concerns. Silver said he would keep the details of those conversations private.

But LeBron James – clearly one of the league’s most iconic players of all time – took his concerns public on Wednesday night, tweeting that the NBA hadn’t gone far enough with Sarver.

“I have to be honest… Dorina definitely got it wrong,” James tweeted to his 52 million followers. “You don’t need to explain why. You all read the stories and decide for yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no place in this league for this kind of behavior.

“I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership. But it is not true. There is no place for misogyny, sexism and racism in any workplace. It does not matter if you own the team or play with them. We see our union as an example of our values ​​and that is not it.” .

Suns center guard Chris Paul echoed James’ sentiment later on Wednesday.

“Like many others, I checked the report,” Paul wrote on social media. “I have been horrified and disappointed by what I have read. This behavior especially towards women is unacceptable and should never be repeated. … I am of the view that the sanctions have failed to address what we can all agree is appalling behaviour. My heart goes out to all affected people.”

The NBA had the option of giving Sarver a longer one-year ban. The $10 million fine was the maximum allowed, as was the $2.5 million sterling fine eight years ago; NBA rules regarding maximum fines changed in 2019.

Another reason was Silver, who was the final decision-maker in punishment in this case, had Sarver suspended for a longer period or even prevented him: He said he took into account a number of anonymous details that could not be disclosed in the investigation report that was published on Tuesday. , along with other elements of Sarver’s actions in his 18 years that owned the Suns and Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.

Silver said, “There have been these terrible things. There are also many, many, many people who have very positive things to say about him through the process. And in the end, I took all of that into account when deciding that a suspension plus a fine was appropriate.”

A 10-month investigation into Sarver’s behavior confirmed that he used racist language, made sexually inappropriate comments, left some employees – both male and female – uncomfortable with his words and actions, and engaged in what would be considered workplace bullying.

“It can’t be defended not strong enough,” Silver said.

But the university did not have discussions about Sarver’s dismissal as Malik during the Board of Governors meetings. Silver permanently banned Sterling after tapes of him making racist comments were leaked to TMZ in a move that began the process of forcing Sterling to sell the franchise.

“This case is very different,” Silver said. “It’s not that one was on tape and the other was not… Mr. Sarver eventually admitted his conduct.”

Sarver did, and issued an apology on Tuesday, though he indicated he did not agree with all of the report’s findings.

Silver was asked how most employees of a company would face dismissal if they would use racial slurs or engage in obscene acts or comments in the way the investigation showed that Sarver did.

“It’s hard to make these comparisons with someone who commits an inappropriate act in the workplace in a somewhat anonymous way versus what a huge public topic now about that person is,” Silver said. “There is no exact answer here, other than the rights that come with owning an NBA team, and how they are Setting that up in our constitution. What it takes to remove this team from their control is a very complex process, and it’s different than taking a job. It is. When you actually own a team, it’s just a completely different proposition.”

The difference between the Stirling and Sarver cases is: Sarver cooperated with the league investigation while Stirling did not cooperate in many ways. Sterling ended up suing the NBA for $1 billion in federal court after his life ban was announced, saying his constitutional rights had been violated.

The report said Sarver “repeated or alleged to have repeated the N-word on at least five occasions throughout his tenure with Suns.”

“However, the investigation did not find that Sarver’s behavior in any of these cases was motivated by racial hostility,” the report said, adding that investigators did not conclude that Sarver used such racially insensitive language with the intent to insult or defame.

The Sterling investigation – from the release of audio tapes of him making racist remarks at his girlfriend, to Silver announcing his life ban – took three days. Sarver’s investigation took 100 times longer, and involved more than 320 interviews and a review of more than 80,000 documents and other materials.

Both investigations were handled by the same New York-based Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz firm. Attorney David Anders led both investigations.

Sarver’s return in 2023 will be welcomed, although Silver has made it clear that his words and actions in the future will come under heavy scrutiny.

Silver said, “I don’t have the right to fire his team. I don’t want to rest on this legal point because of course there could be a process to dismiss someone’s team in this league. She’s very involved, and she ultimately made the decision not to live up to that level. But for To me, the consequences here are dire for Mr. Sarver.”

Sarver’s punishment is also similar to the punishment of others imposed in previous notable examples of wrongdoing, whether in words, deeds, or both.

In 1993, Marge Schott, then-owner of the Cincinnati Reds, was fined $25,000 and suspended for a year for “making racially and racially offensive remarks.” And last year, the NFL fined the Washington captains $10 million, plus investigative fees, after an investigation found the team’s work environment for women was, in the words of Commissioner Roger Goodell, “extremely unprofessional” — but it didn’t reach As far as owner Daniel Snyder commented.