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Earl Watson ‘Applauds’ Others Who Came Forward For ESPN’s Robert Sarver Story

Earl Watson, who played for 13 years in the NBA before becoming the Phoenix Suns head coach in 2016 for just over a season, was one of the main sources in ESPN’s detailed report in alleged racist and misogynistic behavior from Suns owner Robert Sarver.

The report has led to plenty of questions about the Suns organizational culture and sparked an NBA investigation into the matter, with some wondering if Sarver could be removed as owner similarly to Donald Sterling from the Clippers. Watson was one of 70 people interviewed for the story, but was among the few that were willing to speak on the record with their name attached.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening after the story’s publication, Watson appreciated those who came forward to speak out about Sarver and the culture in Phoenix, and said he will have more to say later but would prefer not to speak on it constantly.

“I am not interested in engaging in an ongoing battle of fact. Instead, I want to applaud the courage of the numerous players, executives, and staffers for fighting toxic environments of racial insensitivity, sexual harassment, and micro-aggressions with their truth. Basketball and 17 years in the NBA has allowed me financial privilege to speak my truth, but we can’t forget about those who must remain silent for fear of losing their jobs,” he continued. “While our fortitude assists with progress, there is still more work to be done in the name of equality, and I believe that one of the strengths of our league is its ongoing commitment to justice. This has been a traumatic experience, one that has affected my profoundly, and I am not willing to relive it every day. But I will not forget it, and I will address it more fulsomely at a point in the future when I feel ready.”

Watson was with the Suns organization as a coach from 2015-2017, first as an assistant and then as head coach. In an 2018 interview with Yahoo!, he said that his dismissal by the Suns was ‘bigger than basketball’, but the ESPN story is the first time Watson’s allegations against Sarver have been made public. Watson is now an assistant with the Toronto Raptors.