NBA to probe Phoenix Suns after report of racism, misogyny against Robert Sarver
- The report by ESPN said that dozens of current and former team employees detailed inappropriate behavior by Sarver
- NBA said it has asked the Wachtell Lipton law firm to "commence a comprehensive investigation"
- Sarver has owned the Suns since 2004
The NBA has initiated an investigation against the Phoenix Suns after a media report on Thursday detailed allegations from within the organisation that owner Robert Sarver has a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents during his 17-year tenure as the owner of the franchise.
The report by ESPN said that dozens of current and former team employees detailed inappropriate behavior by Sarver. Most of the allegations are from anonymous sources but a few are on the record.
According to the report, Sarver denied or disputed most of the allegations through his legal team. The Suns have also strongly denied the report on Thursday. The franchise had also denied the report some weeks ago when it was yet to be published.
"I would entirely welcome an impartial NBA investigation which may prove our only outlet for clearing my name and the reputation of an organization of which I'm so very proud," Sarver said.
The NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass said that the allegations were "extremely serious" and that the league has asked the Wachtell Lipton law firm to "commence a comprehensive investigation."
"The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees. Once the investigation is completed, its findings will provide the basis for any league action," Bass added.
Among the allegations: Former Suns coach Earl Watson said the Sarver was upset that Golden State forward Draymond Green used the N-word during a game in 2016 and that the owner repeated the N-word several times when voicing his displeasure. Watson said he told Sarver that he can't use that word.
Watson was the Suns' coach for all or part of three seasons before being fired three games into the 2017-18 season.
Sarver said in his statement that Watson was "clearly not a credible source."
Watson released his own statement through the Toronto Raptors, where he is now an assistant coach. in the statement, he "applauded the courage" of the people who came forward.
The report also details a story about how Sarver passed around a picture of his wife in a Suns bikini to employees. The report says more than a dozen employees also said Sarver had a history of "making lewd comments in all-staff meetings."
Sarver has owned the Suns since 2004. The 59-year-old Phoenix businessman also owns the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.
(With AP inputs)