Suns owner Robert Sarver has been accused of making racist remarks and misogyny in a report from Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Holmes claimed to have interviewed more than 70 current and former employees for the story.
In several instances, Sarver is accused by Holmes’ sources as having used the N-word. Once, to ask why Warriors forward Draymond Green used it. That allegedly took place in 2016. Another time, Sarver allegedly used it while quoting a player who used it.
“The level of misogyny and racism is beyond the pale,” Holmes quoted one Suns co-owner as saying about Sarver. “It’s embarrassing as an owner.”
ESPN did not list the names of the franchise’s co-owners.
Holmes also quoted an unnamed front office executive as saying, “There’s literally nothing you could tell me about (Sarver) from a misogynistic or race standpoint that would surprise me.”
Sarver denied the allegations through his legal team, via Holmes.
“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,” Sarver said. “I don’t use that word. It is abhorrent and ugly and denigrating and against everything I believe in.
“On one occasion a player used the N-word to describe the importance of having each others’ back. 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.”
Sarver also vehemently denied Watson’s details of what took place back in 2016.
“This is absolutely untrue,” Sarver said through his attorneys, via Holmes. “I remember the game and topic clearly. I of course never used the word myself. During this conversation, I said ‘N-word’ without saying the full word. The word itself never crossed my lips.
“Let me be crystal clear: I never once suggested on that night (or ever) that I should be able to say the N-word because a player or a Black person uses it.”
Suns CEO Jason Rowley defended Sarver in a statement of his own.
“This story is completely outrageous and false,” he said. “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.”
The NBA has not received any sort of complaint regarding the Suns, and players union executive director Michele Roberts said she has not been made aware of any reports from the Suns players.
The Suns are coming off a run to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Bucks in six games.
Coach Monty Williams said previously that the Suns’ focus remains on the games.
“I’m not gonna talk about any of that, and nothing will invade or erode our culture,” he told reporters. “That’s something that we’ve said from Day 1.”
Sarver has owned the Suns for 17 years.