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The NBA Will Investigate The Accusations Of Racism That Weigh On The Owner Of The Suns

Sarver, the team's owner, said he would support any league investigation into the allegations. The identities of the complainants will be kept confidential to avoid any possible retaliation.

The NBA has begun the process of an investigation into the Phoenix Suns and the conduct of majority owner Robert Sarver, the league said in a statement Thursday.

The league's announcement that it will use the Wachtell Lipton law firm to conduct the investigation follows ESPN's broadcast of an investigative story based on interviews with more than 70 current and former Suns employees who described a location. of sometimes toxic and hostile work of racism and sexism during Sarver's 17-year tenure in Phoenix.

Referring to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, a current business operations employee told the same news source that "If the commissioner comes in and investigates to see what the hell is going on in Phoenix, he would be horrified."

"The allegations contained in today's ESPN article are extremely serious, and we have directed the Wachtell Lipton Law Firm to begin a thorough investigation," NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass said in a statement. "The NBA and the WNBA are committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees."

Bass stressed that until the final result of the investigation is known, the league will not take any action.

In a statement prior to the NBA announcement, Sarver said he would support any investigation by the league into the allegations made against him.

"I would welcome an impartial investigation by the NBA that may be our only way to clear my name and the reputation of an organization of which I am very proud," said Sarver.

Suns Legacy Partners Chairman and CEO Jason Rowley also said they would "welcome any investigation by the League" into the allegations.

Two current Suns employees said there is considerable internal support across the organization for an independent investigation into franchise culture and that many employees, as one put it, would be "more than willing to speak" with investigators.

Said the second employee: "A lot of people see this as their chance to right this ship."

Both employees noted, however, that an imminent concern among members of the organization is whether sensitive information, as well as their identities, would remain confidential to avoid any possible retaliation from Suns leadership. Said the first Suns employee: "We have to be protected."

Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi said in a statement that he would assist in any NBA investigation.

"The conduct he allegedly committed has surprised and saddened me and is unacceptable," Najafi said of Sarver.

"The well-being and safety of every Suns employee, player, coach and shareholder is our priority first and foremost. My condolences go out to all whose lives and professions have been affected ... Although today's revelations fall under the jurisdiction of the League, which decides and takes any action based on their finding, I offer my support to ensure that there is full responsibility."

In Silver's tenure since 2014, the NBA has launched two major investigations, with the LA Clippers and Atlanta Hawks , significantly focused on property behavior that ended team sales.

Firing an owner for violations of the NBA constitution and bylaws requires a three-quarter vote of the league's board of governors.

Silver granted former Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime suspension in April 2014 following the release of audiotapes that included his use of racist language about blacks, including his players.

Sterling made a subsequent appearance on CNN that further damaged his league position, and the Clippers were eventually sold for an NBA-record $ 2 billion to Steve Ballmer in August 2014.

Under pressure from a league investigation, Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson sold the franchise to a group led by Tony Ressler for $ 850 million in 2015.

Levenson was part of a league investigation that included a self-report from an internal email he sent that included several racially-nuanced observations based on the fan base attending Hawks games.

The Dallas Mavericks were the focus of a league investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct in the wake of a Sports Illustrated article in 2018.

Following the league's findings, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban donated $ 10 million to charities, including those that fight domestic violence, toward women.

But Cuban was not suspended or punished, much less forced to sell the team.

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