The NBA is an extremely well-known brand. It’s one of the most well-known brands in the world, and the league takes its reputation very seriously, for good reason. However, there’s been more than a couple scandals in recent memory, and it seems the league will continually be desperate to keep that reputation as shiny as possible. That is the case with Robert Sarver and his suspension.
Robert Sarver’s Career
Robert Sarver is the owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. He’s also the owner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Sarver graduated from the University of Arizona, and purchased both teams in 2004.
Sarver has overseen many monumental events in the Suns’ history. He’s overseen the recent, rapid improvement of the team that grabbed the 1st seed in the Western Conference for the first time since 2004, and for just the fourth time in the franchise’s 54-year history. Behind the scenes, in a scandal that was only brought to light recently, NBA fans learned about the dark secrets floating around the Suns front office.
Robert Sarver’s Actions and the Dark Reality of Suns’ Front Office
Robert has just received punishment for his actions after a long investigation was opened by the NBA into the workplace environment in Phoenix. Here are some findings:
Sarver, on five separate occasions, repeated the N-word when recounting statements of others. Sarver also “engaged in instances of inequitable conduct towards female employees, made many sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearence of female employees and other women, and on several occasions engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.”
To add to this already extensive list, Sarver engaged in “demeaning and harsh treatment of employees.” This included yelling and cursing at them. These quotes have been pulled from the NBA’s statement regarding the punishment.
For those actions, Sarver has been suspended from both organizations for a year. He’s not allowed to be present at any events related to either team, and must stay away from the organizations entirely for a year. He was also fined $10 million.
How the NBA Failed With the Robert Sarver Punishment and Suspension
To put is bluntly, Robert Sarver received a slap on the wrist for actions that should have warranted a lifelong suspension.
The NBA has seen a situation like this before. In 2014, then-Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape disparaging his mistress for associating herself with African Americans. Sterling also made many more racist remarks, and was under investigation for a sexual harassment lawsuit, as well.
These issues received national backlash, and soon after the NBA decided to take a league vote, deciding whether Sterling should be forced to sell the team. The vote easily passed, and Sterling’s ownership of the team was removed.
Adam Silver released that news, and understandably the NBA was praised for laying down the hammer on a man who fully deserved it. Then, Robert Sarver was found to have done essentially the same exact things, yet received an extremely small punishment. Now, Silver and the NBA’s decision looks hollow, especially in light of Silver claiming the situations are “dramatically different“.
The truth is, Robert Sarver and Donald Sterling are the worst type of people. Both old, rich men who have proven themselves to be racist and sexist individuals. As is commonplace in our society, many men like that have been rich enough to get away with their actions.
The NBA seemed to set a precedent with their handling of Sterling. They completely reversed it with their shallow punishment of Sarver.
The NBA dropped the ball here. In no way should Robert Sarver have anything to do with the NBA ever again. However, the NBA’s light punishment shows how superficial they took these actions from Sarver. It’s disappointing, but not entirely surprising.