ESPN report details racism, misogyny allegations against Suns owner Robert Sarver
from Victor Barbosa, with YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com
ESPN senior writer Baxter Holmes released a lengthy report early Thursday afternoon revealing numerous interviews with various sources who have come out with details of harrowing racist and misogynistic allegations against longtime Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.
Sarver bought the Suns ahead of the 2004-2005 NBA season with the team was coming off of a 29-53 campaign and just its second missed postseason since 1988.
Holmes and ESPN conducted interviews with over 70 former and current Suns employees throughout Sarver’s 17-year run with the organization, and they described a “toxic and sometimes hostile workplace” under Sarver.
“Some told ESPN that he has used racially insensitive language repeatedly in the office. Employees recounted conduct they felt was inappropriate and misogynistic, including Sarver once passing around a picture of his wife in a bikini to employees and speaking about times his wife performed oral sex on him,” Holmes wrote. “Some said the longtime owner fostered an environment in which employees felt they were his property, even once asking one woman whether he ‘owned’ her to determine whether she worked for the Suns.”
Holmes quoted one Suns co-owner as saying, “The level of misogyny and racism is beyond pale,” regarding Sarver. “It’s embarrassing as an owner.”
A former Suns basketball executive said, “There’s literally nothing you could tell me about him from a misogynistic or race standpoint that would surprise me.”
Through his legal team in response to the allegations, Sarver said the following.
“I’ve never called anyone or any group of people the N-word, or referred to anyone or any group of people by the N-word, either verbally or in writing. I don’t use that word. It is abhorrent and ugly and denigrating and against everything I believe in,” he said, before adding that he used the word once many years ago.
“… On one occasion a player used the N-word to describe the importance of having each others’ back,” Sarver said through his attorneys. “I responded by saying, ‘I wouldn’t say n—a, I would say that we’re in the foxhole together.’ An assistant coach approached me a short time after and told me that I shouldn’t say the word, even if I were quoting someone else. I immediately apologized and haven’t said it ever again. The N-word has never been a part of my vocabulary.”
According to Holmes, ESPN has requested an interview with Sarver about his time with Phoenix on “multiple occasions” and sent the executive written questions.
“In addition to Sarver, ESPN reached out to other Suns employees, including general manager James Jones, who issued a one-sentence statement: ‘None of what’s been said describes the Robert Sarver I know, respect and like — it just doesn’t,'” Holmes wrote.
“Jason Rowley, president and CEO of the Suns, defended Sarver: ‘This story is completely outrageous and false. It doesn’t represent — at all — the Robert Sarver I’ve worked alongside of for 15 years. He’s not a racist and he’s not a sexist.’