The National Basketball Association (NBA) has launched a formal inquiry into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver after he was accused of creating a hostile work environment by allegedly being racist and misogynistic.
“The allegations contained in today’s ESPN article are extremely serious, and we have directed the Wachtell Lipton law firm to commence a comprehensive investigation,” the league said in a statement. “The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees. Once the investigation is completed, its findings will provide the basis for any league action.”
According to ESPN, Sarver was accused of using racial slurs around coaches and players on several occasions. In one instance, he used the derogatory word while speaking with former Suns head coach Earl Watson in 2016 about Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green. Sarver questioned why Green was allowed to use the N-word on the court.
After Watson told him he could not use that word because he was white, Sarver replied, “Why? Draymond Green says nigga.”
He also used the racial slur in 2013 while he was explaining his decision to hire then-interim head coach Lindsey Hunter, who is Black, over Dan Majerle. “These niggas need a nigga,” Sarver allegedly told a staff member.
Sarver has since denied the allegations, calling the ESPN report “inaccurate and misleading.” He also said that he has never used the N-word. “I don’t use that word. It is abhorrent and ugly and denigrating and against everything I believe in,” the Suns owner said.
On Thursday (Nov. 4), Sarver released a statement saying that he is welcoming the NBA to conduct their investigation. “At this point, I would entirely welcome an impartial NBA investigation which may prove our only outlet for clearing my name and the reputation of an organization of which I’m so very proud,” he said.