Leagues to have NBA, WNBA team owner Robert Sarver investigated after ESPN report

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass stated in an announcement that New York-based Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, which investigated allegations of racism towards former Los Angeles Clippers proprietor Donald Sterling in 2014, will look into the matter.
The ESPN report cites examples of Sarver utilizing the n-word and inappropriate language that in flip created a hostile work setting. The sports activities community stated it interviewed greater than 70 folks for the story.

Sarver, who has been the Suns’ and Mercury’s majority proprietor since 2004, stated the report is inaccurate and deceptive.

“Let me be clear: The n-word is not part of my vocabulary,” he stated Thursday. “I have never called anyone or any group of people the n-word, or referred to anyone or any group of people by that 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.”

ESPN interviewed former Suns head coach Earl Watson, who says Sarver repeatedly used the n-word in 2016 when debating whether or not Sarver, who’s White, may use the phrase. Watson has a Mexican American mom and Black father.

“You know, why does (Golden State Warriors forward) Draymond Green get to run up the court and say (N-word),” Watson recalled Sarver telling him. Watson says he informed the group proprietor that he could not use that phrase.

“Why?” Sarver reportedly replied, “Draymond Green says (N-word).”

Sarver stated Watson will not be credible.

“Mr. Watson created an unprofessional and toxic atmosphere in our organization,” he stated. “Now we are in the position of trying to disprove things that did not happen.”

Sarver stated he welcomes an investigation.

Watson, now an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors, stated in an announcement to the media that he is not “in engaging in an ongoing battle of fact.”

“Instead, I want to applaud the courage of the numerous players, executives, and staffers for fighting toxic environments of racial insensitivity, sexual harassment, and micro-aggressions with their truth,” he stated.

Watson stated that the expertise has been traumatic and whereas he does not wish to relive it each day, he’ll deal with the matter when he feels prepared.

Multiple unnamed staff informed ESPN that Sarver made inappropriate, sexual feedback throughout workers conferences. Specific examples included Sarver describing his intercourse life along with his spouse. He would additionally publicly ask gamers about their intercourse lives, in keeping with ESPN.

In the report, Sarver denies publicly speaking about his or others’ intercourse lives.

ESPN’s story quotes a former feminine worker who says Sarver would ask questions like, “Do I own you? Are you one of mine?”

Throughout the ESPN report, Sarver, via his authorized illustration, denies essentially the most severe accounts of racist and sexually charged language. In one incident by which Sarver is accused of pulling an worker’s pants down in entrance of greater than 60 folks, Sarver, via his attorneys to ESPN, acknowledged the account and apologized to the worker.

The ESPN investigation got here to mild two weeks in the past and was instantly rejected by Sarver, the Suns and Mercury earlier than the story was printed.

On October 22, in anticipation of the discharge of the report, Sarver stated in an announcement, “I am wholly shocked by some of the allegations purported by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations,” Sarver stated.

“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.”

The identical day, each the Suns and Mercury launched statements calling the upcoming ESPN report “baseless.”

CNN has reached out to the Suns and Mercury for touch upon the allegations within the ESPN report.

On Thursday, Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi launched an announcement saying, “I have been made aware of the allegations against Robert Sarver, the managing partner who runs the Phoenix Suns. The conduct he is alleged to have committed has stunned and saddened me and is unacceptable.”

He added, “My sincerest sympathy goes out to all whose lives and professions have been impacted. … Although today’s revelations fall under the jurisdiction of the League which decides and takes any action based on its finding, I offer my support to ensure there is full accountability.”

Bass informed ESPN the NBA by no means “received a complaint of misconduct at the Suns organization through any of our processes, including our confidential workplace misconduct hotline or other correspondence.”

The union for NBA gamers stated it applauded the league’s resolution to research.

According to a biography on NBA.com, Sarver is chairman and CEO of Western Alliance Bancorporation, a monetary establishment headquartered in Arizona, and co-founder of Southwest Value Partners, an actual property funding fund.

CNN has requested remark from every group.

CNN’s Steve Almasy and Jill Martin contributed to this report.


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