The story of the week in the NBA has been the league finally releasing its findings from its nearly year-long investigation into allegations of Suns owner Robert Sarver making racist and sexist comments while fostering a hostile workplace environment in Phoenix.
The league’s investigation confirmed what had originally been reported by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, which at the time Sarver vehemently denied as false reporting only to now come out and try to express remorse. Sarver was slapped with a $10 million fine and a year-long suspension, with Adam Silver citing that newfound remorse and him “evolving” as a person as a reason for the lighter punishment in a rather dreadful press conference trying to explain how the league landed on this as Sarver’s penalty.
As many have pointed out, Sarver’s use of the N-word (which he was first told not to say in 2004 and then said repeatedly in 2017, showing a lack of evolution) and sexist comments certainly doesn’t seem far off from Donald Sterling, who was ousted by the league and forced to sell the Clippers for similar comments (that just happened to exist on tape that could be run over and over on networks). Along with Sterling being on tape saying horrific things, one of the biggest reasons for his removal from the league was the threat from players to sit out during the playoffs and their public outcry against Sterling.
Up until today, we hadn’t had much of that given it’s the offseason and the report just came out, but on Wednesday two of the league’s most prominent voices, including a Suns star, called the league out for not doing enough to Sarver. First it was LeBron James, who flatly called the league “wrong” for how it handled the situation, with Chris Paul following suit by first making sure to that he felt for the victims of Sarver’s words and actions, while also saying the league “fell short” in addressing his “atrocious behavior.”
I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected.
— Chris Paul (@CP3) September 15, 2022
Paul’s statement is notable for a number of reasons, as he is, along with Devin Booker, one of the top stars on the Suns, which Sarver owns, so speaking out on this comes as no small thing. He’s also the former president of the NBPA, and his voice, along with James’, carries tremendous weight around the league as one of its most respected veterans. Paul has also, unfortunately, found himself in this position before as a member of the Clippers as the Sterling tapes became public and he was forced out (in no small part due to the Clippers threatening not to play in a playoff game).
For its part, the NBPA likewise has made clear it feels the league did enough, with Tamika Tremaglio issuing a strong statement on Wednesday as well calling on the league to do more.
Statement from Tamika Tremaglio, Executive Director of @TheNBPA, about the “horrible” conduct from Suns owner Robert Sarver to @andscape @espn who she believes “should never hold a managerial position within our league again.” pic.twitter.com/q4uEU7Ke6h
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) September 14, 2022
The NBA obviously hoped the $10 million fine would suffice in the minds of many, but the findings of the investigation are too damning for that to be the case. As pressure mounts from players, we’ll see if the NBA adjusts course or if players take a more proactive stance to force such action.