Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network is calling on the NBA to remove Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver who was suspended for a year and fined $10 million after a damning report detailing patterns of racism, misogyny, and abuse.
“I have a deep respect for Commissioner Silver as we have worked together to raise the bar of what it means to own an NBA team. Unfortunately, trying to explain away the light punishment on Robert Sarver greatly misses the mark,” Sharpton said. “Nobody can evolve from being a bigot. This one-year suspension is a band aid on a tumor. To say it is in remission while it grows will only make the entire league sicker. We must remove this cancer swiftly and precisely, while sending a message that hate has no place in American sports. It’s time for the players, the fans, and the corporate sponsors to rise up and demand that Robert Sarver be immediately removed from the NBA.”
Sharpton is hardly alone in his assessment.
Lebron James has been outspoken in his social media posts on Sarver, writing, “I read through the Sarver stories a few times now. I gotta be honest…Our league definitely got this wrong. there is no place in this league for that kind ofbehavior. I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership. But this isn’t right. There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any workplace. Don’t matter if you own the team or play for the team. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this aint it.”
Suns Point Guard Chris Paul also felt “the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior.”
The fine and suspension were the result of an investigation that uncovered a handful of incidents where Sarver used the “N-Word” in addition to making sexually inappropriate and suggest comments and some objectionable treatment of female employees. It was also reported that on one occasion while receiving a “fitness check” from a male employee that he dropped his underwear, exposing himself, as the employee kneeled in front of him; and that he emailed pornography to a group of male Suns employees.
Though NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted that he was in disbelief about what he learned had taken place in the Suns organization over the last 18 years, he added that he didn’t “have the right to take away his team.
“I don’t want to rest on that legal point because of course there could be a process to take away someone’s team in this league,” Silver continued. “It’s very involved, and I ultimately made the decision that it didn’t rise to that level. But, to me, the consequences are severe.”
But says NAACP President Derrick Johnson, “Fining a billionaire $10 million is nothing but a speeding ticket. They have failed to adequately address this man’s history of racism, sexism, and his years-long nourishment of a toxic culture. … This is far from accountability.”