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Suns Owner Robert Sarver Accused of Using N-Word, ESPN Reports

  • In an ESPN report, present and former Phoenix Suns staff allege that proprietor Robert Sarver has used the “N-word.”
  • The staff mentioned Sarver questioned aloud why gamers might say the N-word and quoted individuals who mentioned it.
  • Sarver can be accused of making inappropriate sexual feedback.

Several former and present staff of the Phoenix Suns have accused proprietor Robert Sarver of utilizing the “N-word.”

According to an ESPN report by Baxter Holmes, greater than 70 former and present Suns staff allege that Sarver has fostered a poisonous work atmosphere suffering from racism and misogyny since he purchased the staff in 2004.

Former Suns head coach Earl Watson informed ESPN that in a single occasion in 2016, after a loss to the Golden State Warriors, Sarver went into the coaches’ locker room and requested why Draymond Green might say the “N-word.”

“Why does Draymond Green get to run up the courtroom and say [N-word]?” Sarver allegedly requested.


Watson informed Sarver to not use the phrase, in line with ESPN, however Sarver once more requested why.

A former Suns govt additionally informed ESPN that in 2013, Sarver vouched for hiring Lindsey Hunter, who’s Black, as a head coach, saying, “These [N-words] want a [N-word].”

Sarver denied that latter allegation and recounted his remark about Green in a different way. His authorized staff informed ESPN that Sarver had informed a Suns participant to enchantment a technical foul that he’d obtained for saying the N-word. According to Sarver’s representatives, Sarver mentioned that if Green can say it, the Suns participant ought to be capable to as properly. Sarver denied saying the precise phrase.

But the participant informed ESPN that he did not bear in mind talking to Sarver, and Watson denied that any gamers had been current for the change.


Other former Suns staff additionally informed ESPN that Sarver would re-tell tales he heard from Black gamers, phrase for phrase, together with the use of the N-word — despite the fact that staff informed Sarver not to do this.

The NBA introduced Thursday that it has employed a regulation agency to research the Suns over the allegations in ESPN’s report. 

Sarver started to challenge statements denying the allegations weeks earlier than ESPN’s story was revealed. He doubled down on that sentiment in response to an inquiry from Insider.

“While 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 shouldn’t be half of my vocabulary,” Sarver’s assertion learn. “I’ve by no means referred to 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.”


Suns CEO Jason Rowley, in the meantime, informed Insider in a press release that Holmes created a false narrative.

“Today’s story comprises false data and narratives perpetuated by a reporter who has struggled unsuccessfully to match the info to a narrative he determined he needed to inform a 12 months in the past,” Rowley mentioned. “He twisted statements and circumstances to suit his preconceived narrative.”

Sarver and Rowley each mentioned they welcomed the NBA’s investigation, and Sarver added that the N-word is “abhorrent and ugly and denigrating and towards all the things I imagine in.”

A worrisome report on race

ESPN’s report describes different allegations from Suns staff about situations wherein Sarver made questionable feedback and selections concerning race. Watson, who’s Black and Hispanic, informed ESPN that he as soon as informed Sarver the Suns group ought to have extra range. According to Watson, Sarver replied that he did not like range as a result of it made it more durable for individuals to agree.

In a press release to ESPN, Sarver’s authorized staff highlighted the Suns’ report of hiring staff of shade, together with head coach Monty Williams and GM James Jones.

But Watson additionally mentioned Sarver as soon as threatened to fireplace him if Watson did not fireplace Klutch Sports as his company. The menace got here after Sarver had a heated argument with Klutch Sports proprietor Rich Paul a couple of participant’s extension. Watson mentioned he introduced up the optics of a white proprietor telling a Black coach to fireplace an company run by a Black agent. He alleges that Sarver replied: “I perceive what race you two are. So I’m asking you, how unhealthy would you like your job?

Watson was fired in October 2017.

In his assertion, Sarver mentioned Watson created an “unprofessional and poisonous environment in our group,” and that Watson “is clearly not a reputable supply.”

Inappropriate and misogynistic feedback about intercourse

Robert Sarver claps while standing next to a trophy after the Suns advanced to the NBA Finals.

Robert Sarver.

Harry How/Getty Images

Suns staff additionally informed ESPN that Sarver has made inappropriate feedback about intercourse. He as soon as boasted about his spouse performing oral intercourse on him, they mentioned, and is alleged to have mentioned throughout all-staff conferences that he wears extra-large condoms. Sarver denies these allegations.

ESPN additional reported that Sarver would typically ask gamers about their intercourse lives and the sexual prowess of their companions. Sarver denies this as properly.

The drawback prolonged to the staff’s total tradition, in line with ESPN. The staff allege that Sarver used demeaning language, together with referring to workers as “stock” and asking feminine staff if he owns them.

Furthermore, feminine staff informed ESPN that in some conferences, male staff would talk about ladies who’d worn low-cut tops at prior occasions. One feminine gross sales worker mentioned a former Suns vice chairman as soon as requested her what number of co-workers she’d slept with.

Yet one other feminine worker mentioned she was bodily assaulted by a male co-worker, however that when the problem was delivered to HR, her desk was moved only one row over.

Several feminine staff informed ESPN that they had been afraid to report points to HR for concern of retaliation. HR workers, they are saying, often informed individuals who got here to them to debate misconduct that it will higher to speak on a stroll exterior in order to not be seen by bosses.

While some staff pursued authorized motion towards the staff, many didn’t. One feminine worker informed ESPN that she had contemplated suicide because of the office tradition.

“If I knew — and I want I knew what I used to be coming into — I’d have by no means taken the job right here. Never,” a present Suns worker informed ESPN.

In Rowley’s assertion, he famous that the NBA has not obtained any complaints in regards to the Suns by means of the nameless tip line created in 2018.

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