Remember a few weeks ago when the Phoenix Suns strongly pushed back on a rumor team owner Robert Sarver will be accused of “racism, sexism and sexual harassment” in a story that hadn’t even dropped yet? Yeah, we now know why they jumped ahead of that story.
In a tweet, sports reporter Jordan Schultz wrote “the NBA is preparing for a massive story accusing #Suns owner Robert Sarver of racism, sexism and sexual harassment in a series of incidents, sources say. With enough evidence to support such claims, there’s a real chance the league would forcibly remove Sarver.”
That was late October, and now in early November, we know just how bad this story was. The report was released by Baxter Holmes with 70 plus interviews with current and former Phoniex Suns’ employees.
One story came when Sarver entered the Phoenix Suns coaches locker room, Watson told ESPN.
“You know, why does Draymond Green get to run up the court and say [N-word],” Sarver, who is white, allegedly said, repeating the N-word several times in a row.
“You can’t say that,” Watson, who is Black and Hispanic, told Sarver.
“Why?” Sarver replied. “Draymond Green says [N-word].”
“You can’t f—ing say that,” Watson said again.
“The level of misogyny and racism is beyond the pale,” one Suns co-owner said about Sarver. “It’s embarrassing as an owner.”
Said a former Suns basketball executive: “There’s literally nothing you could tell me about him from a misogynistic or race standpoint that would surprise me.”
Sarver denied using racially insensitive language through his legal team. “I’ve never called anyone or any group of people the N-word, or referred to anyone or any group of people by the N-word, either verbally or in writing. I don’t use that word. It is abhorrent and ugly and denigrating and against everything I believe in.”
However, he did acknowledge using the word once many years ago. “On one occasion a player used the N-word to describe the importance of having each others’ back,” Sarver said through his attorneys. “I responded by saying, ‘I wouldn’t say n—a, I would say that we’re in the foxhole together.’ An assistant coach approached me a short time after and told me that I shouldn’t say the word, even if I were quoting someone else. I immediately apologized and haven’t said it ever again. The N-word has never been a part of my vocabulary.”
Sarver pushed back on allegations weeks ago:
“I am wholly shocked by some of the allegations purported by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations. While I can’t begin to know how to respond to some of the vague suggestions made by mostly anonymous voices, I can certainly tell you that some of the claims I find completely repugnant to my nature and to the character of the Suns/Mercury workplace and I can tell you they never, ever happened,” Sarver said.
“First and foremost, I reject any insinuation of personal or organizational racism or gender discrimination. I despise language that disrespects any individuals, regardless of race, gender, preference, or choice. Such language has no place in business or at home in what I consider Suns and Mercury families. I am proud of our record of diversity and inclusion on both teams – whether on the court or in the front office.
“I don’t begin to know how to prove that something DIDN’T happen, and it is difficult to erase or forget ugly accusations once they are made. Even hints of racism or sexism in our culture today are toxic and damaging and should not be lightly raised. I categorically deny any and all suggestions that I used disparaging language related to race or gender. I would like to think that my actions and public record regarding race, gender, or discrimination of any kind, over a lifetime in business and community service, will adequately answer any questions anyone might raise about my commitment to equality and fairness.”
Sarver bought the team in 2004.
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