The NBA launched an investigation on Thursday (Oct. 4) into allegations that Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver created a racist and misogynistic work environment throughout his 17-year tenure with the team.
This probe comes after an ESPN report on the same day detailed the accusations. The allegations against Sarver, who is white, include multiple instances of him using the N-word and making misogynistic comments in meetings, all while discouraging employees from reporting him.
League officials hired New York-based Wachtell Lipton law firm to conduct a comprehensive investigation, NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass said in a statement that described the allegations as “extremely serious.”
“The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees,” Bass added. “Once the investigation is completed, its findings will provide the basis for any league action.”
Among the many allegations, Saver repeatedly said the N-word in the coaches locker room after a loss to the Golden State Warriors in 2016.
He’s also accused of using the racial slur in 2013 when telling a Suns employee that he wanted to hire Lindsey Hunter, who is Black, instead of Dan Majerle, who is white.
"These [N-words] need a [N-word]," an executive who heard the conversation stated.
More than a dozen employees said he has used lewd comments about women at staff meetings, including discussing his wife performing oral sex on him.
"Women have very little value," a former female staffer said about the work environment Saver allegedly created. "Women are possessions. And I think we’re nowhere close to where he thinks men are."
A former Suns human resources representative said employees were told not to file complaints with HR. Several staffers were said to have been taking antidepressants and taking medical leave because of the work environment.