NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) decision to fine and suspend Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver but not ban him for reported racist and sexist behaviour is not sitting well with some of the league’s biggest stars nor the players’ union.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Suns guard Chris Paul and National Basketball Players Association executive director Tamika Tremaglio all made their opposition to the Sarver ruling known on Wednesday.
A day earlier, the NBA released the results of a lengthy investigation into workplace misconduct under Sarver’s watch.
He was found to have used the “N-word” at least five times in addition to sexually harassing female employees and cursing and yelling at workers. As a result, the league fined him US$10 million (S$14 million) and suspended him from running the team for one year.
James responded on Twitter: “Read through the Sarver stories a few times now. I gotta be honest… Our league definitely got this wrong. I don’t need to explain why.
“Y’all read the stories and decide for yourself. I said it before and I’m gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for that kind of behaviour. There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don’t matter if you own the team or play for the team.”
Paul also posted on his Twitter: “I am horrified and disappointed by what I read. This conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated.
“I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behaviour.”
Tremaglio issued a statement that read, in part: “The report indicated Mr Sarver’s long history of inappropriate conduct, including racial and gender insensitivity, misogyny and harassment. All issues that led to a toxic work environment for well over a decade.
“I have made my position known to (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver regarding my thoughts on the extent of the punishment, and strongly believe that Mr Sarver should never hold a managerial position within our league again.”
Silver said that Sarver’s punishment could have been stiffer had investigators not determined that his use of slurs was not motivated by racial or gender-based animus.
“I think if they had made findings that, in fact, his conduct was motivated by racial animus, absolutely that would have had an impact on the ultimate outcome here,” he said. “But that’s not what they found.” REUTERS