Rev. Al Sharpton calls on team owners to oust Robert Sarver after NBA investigation's findings

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic

Rev. Al Sharpton has even more reasons to call for Robert Sarver's removal as Phoenix Suns team owner after seeing results of a 10-month investigation.

“While I commend the league for taking this step, the report findings clearly show that Mr. Sarver has perpetrated egregious acts of racism and misogyny and should no longer be welcome in the back office or on the sidelines,” said Sharpton said in a statement through his National Action Network.

The NBA launched an investigation in November 2021 after an ESPN report detailed allegations of racism and misogyny against Sarver, claiming he created a "toxic" work environment within the Suns' organization.

MORE: Suns owner suspended for one year, fined $10 million by NBA

“I encourage the (NBA’s) Board of Governors to hold Mr. Sarver fully accountable for his actions, and to vote for his removal from the league in recognition that his behavior does not represent the values of the NBA.”

Sarver will be suspended for one year from all Suns and Mercury involvement and fined $10 million as the results of an investigation conducted by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

The investigation concluded Sarver "on at least five occasions during his tenure with the Suns/Mercury organization, repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others."

Mar 27, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, United States;  Phoenix Suns minority owner Larry Fitzgerald talks with owner Robert Sarver during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Footprint Center.

The investigators also confirmed allegations of sexist remarks and bullying behavior on Sarver's part directed at team employees.

MORE: Somers: After damning report, why is Robert Sarver still owner of Suns, Mercury?

“Good leadership requires accountability,” said Sarver in a statement released Tuesday afternoon by the Suns. “For the Suns and Mercury organizations, that begins with me.  While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA’s report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that offended our employees.  I take full responsibility for what I have done.  I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values.

The New York law firm also found that Sarver exhibited "inequitable conduct toward female employees" in the workplace that included making several "sex-related comments."

Sarver is also the majority owner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement released by the league Tuesday morning. “We believe the outcome is the right one, taking into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to upholding proper standards in NBA workplaces.”

MarJon Beauchamp reacts as he poses for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected 24th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

In July, Silver said the investigation was in “sort of last stage” at a press conference during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

“I am hopeful that the NBA community will use this opportunity to reflect on what this great game means to people everywhere and the values of equality, respect and inclusion that it strives to represent,” Silver continued in the statement.

“Regardless of position, power or intent, we all need to recognize the corrosive and hurtful impact of racially insensitive and demeaning language and behavior.  On behalf of the entire NBA, I apologize to all of those impacted by the misconduct outlined in the investigators’ report.  We must do better.”

Sharpton has been calling for Sarver’s dismissal for months.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton speaks to the media outside Antioch Baptist Church in Buffalo.

In August, the civil rights leader wrote PayPal president and CEO Dan Schulman, in an open letter that appeared in the Sunday edition of The Arizona Republic, demanding the billion-dollar digital payment company cease its business relationship with Sarver and the Suns.

“As someone who has dedicated my life to fighting injustice and speaking out against hate in all its forms, it is my duty and responsibility to call out such hypocrisy and to call on PayPal to uphold the values for which it proclaims to stand,” Sharpton wrote.

In March, he called on the NBA to issue its findings and take action.

Sharpton plans to remain in contact with Silver on racial issues within the NBA.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Commissioner Silver and the leadership of the league to fight racism and abuse at all levels, and to lead the American sports community in support of these principles,” he concluded in his statement.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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