NBA Has Hired A Firm To Conduct An Investigation Into Robert Sarver Allegations | Chris Paul Braces For Another Donald Sterling Situation

If The Investigation Proves Allegations To Be True, Then What?

The NBA is still reeling after the ESPN report that dropped on Thursday, Nov. 4, detailing allegations of racism, misogyny and sexism by Suns owner Robert Sarver. The league announced that it has hired a law firm to investigate the Phoenix Suns.

Suns Owner Robert Sarver Accused of Using N-Word Repeatedly, Talking About Oral Sex at Employee Meetings, Offering Women to Players And So Much More

“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 said in a statement Thursday.
“The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees,” the league continued. “Once the investigation is completed, its findings will provide the basis for any league action.”

Sarver, through his legal representation, has maintained his innocence save for a few “misunderstandings.”

Most of the allegations were made from anonymous sources. But a few people went on the record, including former Suns head coach Earl Watson, who alleges Sarver used the N-word multiple times.

Legally, there isn’t much the NBA can do to Sarver. The individuals that made the accusations could potentially sue, but in terms of any sanctions the best the league could do is force a sale. Similar to what they did when audio of former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling saying racists things about his players and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson leaked.

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The National Basketball Players Association issued the following statement:

“We are continuing to review the allegations in today’s ESPN story. We view these allegations as serious and applaud the League’s decision to conduct an investigation. We will defer any further comments until that process has been concluded.”

NBPA executive director Michele Roberts was quoted in the ESPN story and stated she was not aware of any reports from players of misconduct by Sarver or the Suns.

“Apart from [point guard Chris Paul] and James Jones, we have not had much official contact with the team and none that I can think of with Sarver.”

The Suns players and coaching staff are in a tricky situation, Sarver is their boss. But they can’t take this situation lightly. Team leader Chris Paul will play a huge role in helping to maintain focus. Paul was a member of the Clippers during the Sterling fiasco.

“I’ve been through a few situations in my time in the league,” Paul said. “The powers that be, they look into it. They do their investigations or whatnot, but I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned through all these years is that us as a team, we’ve got to talk. It’s not about what everybody else is saying or everybody else is telling you to do or you should do. It’s about how we feel as a team, as a unit, coaching staff, everybody within the organization.”

That is sort of the only approach. The investigation has to run its course and the players have to go on with the business of playing ball, winning games, and hopefully for the Suns returning to the NBA Finals.

This latest situation with an NBA owner highlights the fraught relationship between players and their franchises. The players are the most important people in the sports equation. They are who fans pay to see.

How much more of this type of behavior needs to come to light before players decide they don’t really need the owners. With their collective power, they could have their own league.

Suns’ head coach Monty Williams along with Paul, and Devin Booker will do what athletes and coaches often do best. Compartmentalize and focus on what they can control.

“In my seven years that I’ve been here, I haven’t noticed that, but that doesn’t make me insensitive to the subject,” Booker said. “I think the NBA opened an investigation, and they’re going to do their due diligence of bringing out facts instead of ‘he said, she said.’ I’m sure the NBA has it in good hands and will do the proper research to find out the truth.”
“As someone who is the caretaker of a program, I find all these things that are being said serious in nature,” Williams said before the Suns Thursday night game. “It takes courage to come out and express yourself. But at the same time, I’m aware there are two sides to this equation. … We still have to wait to see how clear the facts can appear.”

If the NBA’s investigation proves all these allegations are true, then what? Removing Sarver as an owner won’t fundamentally change much. Issues of racism, misogyny and sexism are prevalent in the larger society. The NBA is just a microcosm of that.

Short-term it might be a win. Long-term the NBA needs to seriously vet those it allows the privilege of purchasing ownership stakes.