Phoenix Suns players and coaching staff responded to the independent investigation into embattled owner Robert Sarver at NBA Media Day, with the findings described as “disturbing”.
The NBA suspended Sarver for a year and fined him $10 million following the investigation, which found Sarver engaged in hostile, racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior.
Last week, Sarver announced that he would sell the Phoenix Suns of the NBA and the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA.
“You know what’s going on in the workplace is really unfortunate – so I’m sure everyone felt thoughts and prayers for everyone involved,” 12-time star Chris Paul told reporters. . “You try to control what you can control, and I can’t speak for all the players or something like that, but it was disturbing.”
Paul was part of the Los Angeles Clippers team in 2014 who protested then-owner Donald Sterling for racist remarks by throwing their warm-up jerseys in midfield and hiding the Clippers logo on their shooting shirts by turning them inside out.
Sterling was then banned for life from the NBA, fined the then-maximum amount allowed by the NBA constitution, and forced to sell the franchise.
When asked if this Suns team was planning a similar protest, Paul said: “Obviously the situations are somewhat similar with a change in ownership and all that – but we were in the middle of the playoff series, I was much younger at the time – [and] it was during a summer when the guys are with their families and things like that.
“I think tonight will be the first time our team will have the chance to all be together before we start tomorrow.”
A report detailing the investigation, commissioned by the NBA last fall after an ESPN report into Sarver’s alleged behavior, found that Sarver had “on at least five occasions during his tenure with the Suns/ Mercury, repeated the N-word while recounting the statements of others.”
Asked about Sarver’s use of the N-word, Suns head coach Monty Williams said: “I don’t like it, I never did it, especially when I was younger and I learned what that word meant.
“When I saw the report I was not happy – frankly disgusted. It’s not a word you repeat anytime and when you read the report and read the bullet points and see it again and again in this way, it bothers you.
He added: “Just a number of emotions and, at the same time, thinking about my own children. I have a white wife. My stepson is white and I have five black children and just thinking that they live in a world where this kind of stuff still happens, it bothered me.
“I am no different from all of you. There was a range of emotions, of states of mind, that I had to deal with.
Suns star guard Devin Booker said the report was hard to take.
“It’s hard for me because it’s not the Robert Sarver that I know, not the Robert Sarver who welcomed me with open arms to Phoenix,” he said.
“But at the same time, I’m not insensitive to everyone involved in this situation, and I understand that everyone’s personal experience with other people will always be different.”