Al Sharpton urges action in NBA investigation of Suns owner Robert Sarver
The NBA’s investigation of Robert Sarver remains ongoing after allegations of racism and misogyny against the Suns and Mercury owner surfaced in an article by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes on Nov. 4.
Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton spoke with NBA officials on Friday and made his frustrations clear on the lack of tangible action. He told Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated on Friday that his patience has run out after waiting for more than four months.
“I made it very clear that Sarver has a history of abusive and misogynistic and racist behavior, and this has been going on, according to all these allegations, for about 20 years,” Sharpton told Beck. “I mean, using the n-word and treating human beings like his property. This is exactly the kind of toxic and racist behavior that should have no place in the sports leagues in this country.”
More than 70 former and current Suns employees were interviewed in Holmes’ story.
Holmes reported on March 4 that lawyers investigating the case for the NBA interviewed more than 300 people and were preparing to question Sarver, who has denied the allegations.
“I don’t begin to know how to prove that something didn’t happen, and it is difficult to erase or forget ugly accusations once they are made,” Sarver said in a statement. “I categorically deny any and all suggestions that I used disparaging language related to race or gender.”
Sharpton said he intends to not let people forget about the allegations, and told NBA officials that he will bring demonstrations to the Valley in April if no actions or timetable are released in the next three weeks.
He addressed the situation on Saturday at the New York City headquarters for the National Action Network, where he reiterated that protests could come to Phoenix without a resolution soon.
A group of activists, including members of Sharpton’s National Action Network, sent a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Directors on March 11 urging the league to punish Sarver as it did former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014. Sterling was banned for life after a recording of him making racist comments was made public by TMZ.
The group, called the American Sports Accountability Project, posted the letter online under #SackSarver.
“Under your leadership, the NBA has made clear its intolerance for hatred, bigotry, and any other forms of discrimination,” the letter reads. “This has been reinforced by the League’s creation of a Social Justice Coalition in 2021, as well as its response tp previous reports of misconduct, including those involving the Clippers, the Mavericks, and most recently, the Trail Blazers. In all of the aforementioned cases, those responsible were removed from their respective positions. We see no reasons the response to Mr. Sarver should not follow suit.”