Many people were upset with the way the NBA handled the Robert Sarver situation including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and many other notable figures in the world of sports. The punishment did not seem to fit the seriousness of the crime. Now, nearly a month after Sarver announced he’s selling the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has apologized to employees of the Phoenix Suns.
According to ESPN, before the Suns opening night game against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, Oct. 19, Silver apologized to Phoenix Suns employees for having to endure years of Sarver’s workplace misconduct which included racist, sexist and misogynist comments to members of the organization for years.
Reportedly, Silver told hundreds of Suns employees, “I’m incredibly empathetic to what many of you have lived through. To the extent that you feel let down by the league, I apologize. I take responsibility for that.”
He continued, “Did I hear ever that Robert could be difficult to deal with? Sure. But that’s very different than conduct which is viewed as discriminatory in any way. Obviously, it’s a failure of an overall system, of a league of 30 teams.”
It’s nice that Silver apologized on behalf of the league but it’s too little too late. The NBA’s initial punishment was very disappointing considering they essentially gave him a slap on the wrist after an independent law firm discovered that Sarver used the N-word on multiple occasions “when recounting the statement of others” and also engaged in “instances of inequitable conduct towards female employees.” Which included inappropriate sex-related comments and retorts about the physical appearance of female employees, according to the NBA.
Sarver was only suspended for one year, fined $10 million and required to complete a training program on appropriate workplace conduct. In essence, the NBA gave Sarver a vacation for being racist and sexist, not something a lot of people were pleased with.
When asked by a reporter why Sarver was only suspended a year, when any other person working in the NBA would’ve been fired for similar behavior, Silver said, “There are particular rights here to someone who owns an NBA team as opposed to someone who is an employee.”
It was a disappointing defense of the NBA’s punishment then and it’s unfortunate it took him this long to apologize to the people directly affected by Sarver’s actions and language.
It’s even more frustrating considering the league’s punishment of Donald Sterling was swift and strict. Wish they handled Sarver the same way.