NBA commissioner Adam Silver is going out of his way this week to apologize to employees of the Phoenix Suns.
Silver issued his apology on behalf of the league to a group that consisted of hundreds of employees, hours before the Suns played their home opener against the Dallas Mavericks this week.
‘I’m incredibly empathetic to what many of you have lived through,’ Silver said. ‘To the extent that you feel let down by the league, I apologize. I take responsibility for that.’
“To the extent that you feel let down by the league, I apologize,” Silver said prior to the team’s season opener against the Dallas Mavericks. “I take responsibility for that.”
Sarver was slapped with a $10million fine and one-year ban from the NBA following allegations of racial and sexist slurs as well as bullying to employees.
Sarver, 60, announced his decision to sell the team and the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA after several sponsors, including Verizon Wireless and PayPal, were intending to cut sponsorship deals with both franchises. He initially bought the team in 2004 for $400million.
Silver had also privately advised Sarver to sell despite being of the opinion that the league’s 10-month investigation into the Suns owner’s inappropriate conduct was ‘dramatically different’ from the one tied to former LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.
“Obviously, it’s a failure of an overall system, of a league of 30 teams,” Silver said, adding that the league saw no reason before ESPN’s Nov. 2021 story, which detailed allegations of racism and misogyny during Sarver’s 17 years as owner, to step in and conduct an investigation into the franchise.
Silver acknowledged to employees the challenges of having league oversight of all 30 teams, a situation akin, he said, to national rights versus state’s rights. Still, he said at one point that he did see it as the league’s role to ultimately have oversight over all 30 NBA teams, as well as all WNBA teams.
Several players, including Lebron James, of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Chris Paul, the Suns’ point guard, didn’t think Silver’s punishment was hard enough on Sarver.
Meanwhile, Golden State Warriors star Green called for NBA owners to vote to determine whether Sarver should be removed as Phoenix Suns majority owner as he labeled his punishment ‘bulls***’.
National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) executive director Tamika Tremaglio echoed a majority of NBA players’ sentiments on the situation, and said in an ESPN interview that they were ‘absolutely calling for’ a lifetime ban.
Silver revealed that Sarver was likely spared even stronger sanctioning by the NBA for his racist, misogynistic and hostile words and actions because of one key conclusion by investigators.
Lawyers put in charge of Sarver’s case by the league determined the NBA owner’s use of slurs ‘was not motivated by racial animus.’
Had that not been the case, Silver indicated, Sarver’s punishment – a one-year suspension and $10m fine – would have been far more severe.
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