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Report: Suns Employees Released from NDAs to Participate in NBA's Robert Sarver Probe

Adam WellsDecember 11, 2021

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File

As the NBA investigates allegations of racism, misogyny and a toxic workplace against Phoenix Suns governor Robert Sarver, former team employees are reportedly being released from non-disclosure agreements to speak with the league.

Per ESPN's Baxter Holmes, multiple former Suns employees said they have "begun scheduling and participating in interviews with the lawyers leading the NBA's investigation into the team" after being released from their NDAs.

Holmes noted those who signed NDAs are only being allowed to speak with the NBA as part of its investigation.

On Nov. 4, Holmes released a report containing allegations that Sarver has used racist language on multiple occasions in his tenure as Suns governor.

Former Suns head coach Earl Watson told Holmes that Sarver used the N-word multiple times after a 2016 loss to the Golden State Warriors:

"'You know, why does Draymond Green get to run up the court and say [N-word],' Sarver, who is white, allegedly said, repeating the N-word several times in a row.
"'You can't say that,' Watson, who is Black and Hispanic, told Sarver.
'"Why?' Sarver replied. 'Draymond Green says [N-word].'
"'You can't f---ing say that,' Watson said again."

One Suns executive told Holmes that Sarver said during the team's coaching search in 2013 that "these [N-words] need a [N-word]" when stating why he preferred to hire Lindsey Hunter over Dan Majerle. 

Multiple former team employees recalled an instance soon after Sarver purchased the franchise when he passed around an image of his wife, Penny, in a Suns bikini to show how big a fan of the club he was.

Through his legal team, Sarver told Holmes that "a local apparel retailer had recently been awarded the license to sell official NBA branded swimwear" and sent a sample bikini to him and Penny, and he took a picture of her in it to show Suns staff "what the swimsuit looks like" if they wanted to carry it in the team shop.

Sarver was also accused of "making lewd comments in all-staff meetings, including discussing times when his wife would perform oral sex on him."

Mike Bass, the NBA's executive vice president of communications, announced Nov. 4 that the league had hired an independent law firm to investigate the allegations: 

"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 NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees."

Some interviews between former employees and the law firm have taken place, per Holmes, with more scheduled. 

The current and former employees being interviewed have "prepared extensive notes about allegations they wanted to share, dates of incidents and names of other witnesses to specific accounts."

Sarver, who made his fortune in banking and real estate, purchased the Suns and Phoenix Mercury from Jerry Colangelo in 2004.     

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