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NBA launches investigation following report of Phoenix Suns owner’s history of racism, misogyny

PHOENIX (AP) — The NBA is launching an investigation into the Phoenix Suns following a strongly denied report printed Thursday that claims proprietor Robert Sarver has a historical past of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents throughout his 17-year tenure accountable for the franchise.

“The allegations contained in at present’s ESPN article are extraordinarily critical, and we now have directed the Wachtell Lipton legislation agency to start a complete investigation,” NBA government vp of communications Mike Bass stated in an announcement. “The NBA and WNBA stay dedicated to offering a respectful and inclusive office for all staff. As soon as the investigation is accomplished, its findings will present the premise for any league motion.”

ESPN stated it talked to dozens of present and former staff staff for the story, together with some who detailed inappropriate habits by Sarver. Many of the allegations are from nameless sources however just a few are on the report.

In ESPN’s report, Sarver denied or disputed many of the allegations via his authorized staff.

“I might completely welcome an neutral NBA investigation which can show our solely outlet for clearing my identify and the repute of a company of which I’m so very proud,” Sarver stated in a brand new assertion issued via the staff Thursday.

Among the many allegations: Former Suns coach Earl Watson stated Sarver was upset {that a} Golden State participant used the N-word throughout a sport in 2016 and that the proprietor repeated the N-word a number of instances when voicing his displeasure. Watson stated he instructed Sarver that he cannot use that phrase.

Watson was the Suns’ coach for all or a part of three seasons earlier than being fired three video games into the 2017-18 season.

Sarver stated in his assertion that Watson was “clearly not a reputable supply.”

“Whereas there’s a lot that’s inaccurate and deceptive on this story that I hardly know the place to start, let me be clear: The n-word just isn’t a part of my vocabulary,” Sarver stated. “I’ve by no means known as anybody or any group of individuals the n-word, or referred to anybody or any group of individuals by that phrase, both verbally or in writing. I don’t use that phrase.”

The report additionally particulars a narrative about how Sarver handed round an image of his spouse in a Suns bikini to staff. The report says greater than a dozen staff additionally stated Sarver had a historical past of “making lewd feedback in all-staff conferences.” Sarver has not publicly commented on these allegations.

In ESPN’s story, league spokesman Mike Bass initially stated the NBA had not “obtained a criticism of misconduct on the Suns group via any of our processes, together with our confidential office misconduct hotline or different correspondence.” A couple of hours later Bass introduced the formal investigation.

Sarver has owned the Suns since 2004. The 59-year-old Phoenix businessman additionally owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

The Suns are coming off one of the profitable seasons of their historical past, making the NBA Finals with stars Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton earlier than dropping in six video games to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Suns have made the Finals thrice, in 1976, 1993 and 2021, however have by no means gained a championship.

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