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Report: Robert Sarver Will Work with NBA to Appoint Interim Suns Governor During Ban

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 13, 2022

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Phoenix Suns and Mercury team governor Robert Sarver will work with the NBA to identify an interim replacement while he serves his one-year suspension, according to ESPN's Baxter Holmes.

The league announced Tuesday it suspended Sarver, who also owns the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, and fined him $10 million following an independent investigation into the Suns' workplace culture that found he "engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards."

The law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz handled the investigation. The firm's report outlines how Sarver's "conduct included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying."

The NBA noted that the investigation found that Sarver used the N-word on at least five instances and "engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees."

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz said he "used language and engaged in conduct demeaning of female employees":

"Among other examples, he told a pregnant employee that she would be unable to do her job upon becoming a mother; berated a female employee in front of others and then commented that women cry too much; and arranged an all-female lunch so that female employees at Western Alliance Bank, where at the time he was CEO, could explain to female Suns employees how to handle his demands."

However, the report said there was "no finding that Sarver’s conduct was motivated by racial or gender-based animus."

Suns Legacy Partners LLC released a statement following the report's release. The group said it's "committed to creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive work environment that is free of discrimination and harassment."

Phoenix Suns @Suns

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Suns Legacy Partners LLC also claimed Sarver is "taking responsibility for his actions" and "recognizes at times during his 18 years of ownership, his conduct did not reflect his, or the Suns' values, and was inconsistent with the advancements the management team has taken with Robert's full support."

Holmes and colleague Adrian Wojnarowski, on the other hand, reported Sarver "was unaccepting of [the] idea he deserved a one-year suspension and $10M fine for his behavior."

As part of his suspension, Sarver is prohibited from being at any Suns or Mercury team facility or office. He must also refrain from involving himself in the team's business and basketball operations and cannot represent either organization at league-wide gatherings.

The 60-year-old has held majority control of the Suns since 2004, when he led a group that purchased the team.

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