The players and coaching staff of the Phoenix Suns have been responding to the independent investigation into embattled owner Robert Sarver at the NBA’s media day, with the findings being described as “disturbing.”
The NBA suspended Sarver for a year and fined him $10 million as a result of the investigation, which found Sarver engaged in hostile, racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior.
Last week, Sarver said he will sell the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
“You know, that stuff going on in the workplace is really unfortunate – so just, like, I’m sure everybody felt, thoughts and prayers to all those involved,” 12-time All-Star Chris Paul told reporters. “You try to control what you can control, and I can’t speak for all the players or anything like that, but it was disturbing.”
Paul was part of the Los Angeles Clippers team in 2014 that protested against then owner Donald Sterling for racist remarks by throwing their warm-up shirts into the middle of the court and hiding the Clippers logo on their shootaround shirts by turning them inside-out.
Sterling was subsequently banned for life from the NBA, fined the then-maximum allowable amount by the NBA constitution and forced to sell the franchise.
When asked whether this Suns team was planning a similar protest, Paul said: “Obviously, the situations are somewhat similar with a change of ownership and all of this – but we were in the middle of the playoff series, I was a lot younger at the time – [and] this was over the course of a summer when guys are with their families and things like that.
“I think tonight will be the first time that our team gets the chance to all be together before we start tomorrow.”
A report detailing the investigation, commissioned by the NBA last fall after an ESPN report about Sarver’s alleged behavior, found Sarver had “on at least five occasions during his tenure with the Suns/Mercury organization, repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others.”
When asked about Sarver’s use of the N-word, Suns head coach Monty Williams said: “I don’t like it, I never have, especially when I was younger and I learned what that word meant.
“When I saw the report, I was not happy about it – quite frankly disgusted. It is not a word you repeat anytime and when you read the report and you read the bullet points and you see it over and over again in that way, it bothers you.
He added: “Just a number of emotions and, at the same time, thinking about my own kids. I have a White wife. My stepson is White and I have five Black children and just thinking about them living in a world where these kinds of things still happening, that bothered me.
“I’m no different than you all. There was a range of emotions, states of minds, that I dealt with.”
Suns star guard Devin Booker said the report was difficult to take.
“That’s tough for me because that’s not the Robert Sarver that I know, not the Robert Sarver that welcomed me to Phoenix with open arms,” he said.
“But at the same time, I’m not insensitive to everybody that is involved in this situation, and I understand that everybody’s personal experience with other people are always gonna be different.”