Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James and Phoenix Suns starting point guard Chris Paul each responded to the NBA’s one-year suspension of Suns owner Robert Sarver following a league investigation of the team for allegations of racism and misogyny Wednesday evening.
James, a four-time NBA champion, and Paul, who helped lead the Suns to the 2021 NBA Finals, agreed in separate Twitter posts the league did not issue a proper punishment for Sarver, who was also fined $10 million.
“I don’t need to explain why,” James said. “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 behavior. 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 work place. 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 [ain’t] it.”
Paul, the former president of the NBA Players’ Association, added: “Like many others, I reviewed the report. I was and 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 behavior. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected.”
Sarver, who bought the Suns in 2004, was found have used the “N-word when recounting the statements of others” and displayed “inequitable contact toward female employees and inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees” and “demeaning and harsh treatment of employees, including by yelling and cursing at them,” in his tenure per the league’s investigation.
Sarver’s $10 million fine is the maximum permitted by the NBA, and the funds will reportedly be donated to organizations “addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.”
Sarver issued a statement on the NBA’s decision following its investigation — which was commissioned in November of 2021 after a story was released by ESPN — on Tuesday.
“Good leadership requires accountability. For the Suns and Mercury organizations, that begins with me. While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA’s report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that affected our employees. I take full responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values.
I accept the consequences of the NBA’s decision. This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate a capacity to learn and grow as we continue to build a working culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.
I am extraordinarily proud of the Suns and Mercury organizations and the record we have built concerning diversity, inclusion and giving back to the community. It means a great deal to me that our dedicated and hardworking employees have made Phoenix a basketball destination — for both players and fans.”
During the course of his suspension, Sarver may not do the following things, according to ESPN’s report of the investigation.
— “Be present at any NBA or WNBA team facility, including any office, arena, or practice facility.”
— “Attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity, including games, practices, or business partner activity.”
— “Represent the Suns or Mercury in any public or private capacity.”
“Have any involvement with the business or basketball operations of the Suns or Mercury.”
— “Have any involvement in the business, governance, or activities of either the NBA or WNBA, including attending or participating in meetings of either league’s Board (and their associated Board committees).”
Sarver must also complete a training program focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace.
The Suns and Mercury organizations must also fulfill the following requirements for workplace improvements monitored by the NBA, per ESPN.
— “Retaining an outside firm to evaluate and make recommendations with respect to workplace training programs, policies and procedures, and hiring and compensation practices — with a focus on fostering a diverse, inclusive, and respectful workplace.”
— “Conducting regular and anonymous workplace culture surveys and responding to survey results with specific action plans.”
— “Immediately reporting to the league any instances or allegations of significant misconduct by any employee.”
— “For a period of three years, providing the league with regular reports related to steps taken by the organization to address these requirements.”
— “Following league direction for remediation/improvement of workplace issues if/as they arise.”
For more on the fallout of Sarver’s investigation, you can read ESPN’s story from Baxter Holmes and more content from Bright Side of the Sun.