Just A Few Of The Abhorrent Things Robert Sarver Did To Get Suspended From The NBA
The NBA suspended Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million dollars this week, roughly a year after EPSN reported on a history of racism, misogyny, and misconduct in the Phoenix organization. Many have been quick to say Sarver is a boss straight from the bowels of hell, or has a shot cracking the sequel to our ‘Most Horrific Bosses Of All Time’ list, but don't take their word for it - have a look at just some of his horrible behavior for yourself.
He Passed Bikini Pictures Of His Wife Around The Office
Robert Sarver passed around a picture of his wife in a Suns bikini in a meeting. A local retailer had just gotten license to sell NBA merch, you see, and they sent BobbySarvs samples and a catalogue. So he snapped some hot shots of his hot wife in this hot new Suns beachwear (bikini ad copy writes itself when you own teams called Suns and Mercury) and passed the photos along to the merch staff to see if they had any interest in carrying the line in the team's shop.
This happened in his first year of ownership, and he sadly was just getting started.
He Was Real Chatty About His Penis And Players' Balls
Do you know what size condom your boss wears? Unless you work in porn, it'd be pretty weird if you did, right? Well, Sarver liked to brag that he needed to wear extra large (with triple XXX's, dude!) Magnum condoms at all-staff meetings. Casually bringing that up after a few drinks at the company after-All-Star party would be weird enough, the ESPN report makes us wonder if it was part of a PowerPoint presentation or something.
Besides that, Sarver would regularly ask players if they shaved their balls. Sure, the NBA/WNBA is different from a lot of workplace environments in that coworkers are frequently showering and changing around each other, but that doesn't make it any less weird that the guy who signs the checks just asked if your balls are smooth.
Speaking of dicks, remember the ALS ice bucket challenge? No, that sentence shouldn't make sense if you're a normal person. The Suns participated in the ice bucket challenge, and Sarver pantsed former account executive David Bodzin in front of more than 60 employees. Suns HR is described as having “smirked” by ESPN, hilariously asking Bodzin not to sue them for sexual harassment. We assume Sarver's actions were a great help in advancing humanity's understanding of ALS.
Robert Sarver's Misogyny Was Total and Complete
Robert Sarver told a pregnant woman she wouldn't be able to help coordinate the 2009 All-Star game, which coworkers interviewed for the ESPN piece called “out of line and inappropriate.”
We bet that employee had figured out a way to be pregnant and somehow continue her day-to-day functions, Robert.
Another time, Robert Sarver, in earshot of Suns employee whose job involved helping take care of players' families, asked the team if he needed to fly women to the team on road trips so they'd be in bed at a reasonable hour. He would quiz players about their sex lives and the “prowess” of their partners.
For home court advantage, he once joked that the Suns "needed to have local strippers impregnated" by NBA players so those players would feel a responsibility to play in Phoenix. Never mind that an NBA player's “5 o'clock” is usually something like midnight, given what time games end and media responsibilities wrap up. Never mind that maybe not every NBA player goes out with the explicit goal of cheating on their wives. Let's add more women we can treat like commodities to the payroll, boss, what a great way to help achieve our goal of winning a championship.
This toxicity trickled down to organization culture, too. One employee said a former Suns VP, seemingly drunk, asked her how many people on staff she'd slept with and brought up another coworker's penis specifically—even though she'd never had a relationship with any coworkers. Other women talked about meetings where execs would say they needed some women in low-cut shirts at an event. Another woman said quitting the organization felt like she was abandoning other young women. One woman said she contemplated suicide. But hey! All that's getting pretty heavy, right? Suns employees who have dicks would brush all this off as a joke. As BobbySarvs liked to say, “why do all you women around here cry so much?”
He Used The N-Word, Repeatedly, In The 21st Century
Robert Sarver said the n-word while asking why he can't say the n-word if he's only saying the n-word because he's quoting someone who said the n-word. Feel like a lot? There are two anecdotes of this behavior. One is from Lindsey Hunter, a former Suns head coach who was hired over former Suns player Dan Majerle in part because Sarver said “these s need an ." Hunter is Black and Majerle is not. But wait, that aside isn't even the Lindsey Hunter story. Apparently, BobbySarvs came in the coaches' office after a game with the Warriors, asked “how come Draymond Green gets to say ." Hunter, with a few well-placed f-bombs, told Sarver he can't say the n-word. The other time—the time Sarver actually acknowledges as his personal Teachable Moment—came from a conversation with a player and assistant coach.
Sarver, for his part, says “the word has never been part of my vocabulary” after the assistant coach admonished him. He cops to saying it once, using that whole “quoting” defense, which (deep, long sigh) is so goddamn tired at this point. White people, if you really need a refresher, here's Ta-Nehisi Coates saying it's like his wife calling him ‘honey’ but other women not calling him that. It's that simple. But apparently, according to Adam Silver, BobbySarvs racial slurred “without animus.” So it's very different from former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his mistress he didn't like her bringing Black people to “his” Clipper games. It doesn't matter that Sarver said the n-word so often that it got its own special section in the NBA's report. He said it without animus, okay? That's what Adam Silver said.
Ultimately, the NBA told him to go away for a year and cough up $10 million. So what? Sarver is worth $800 million according to some estimates, double what he bought the Suns for in 2004. NBA teams are starting to go in the billions, so there's a solid chance Robert Sarver dies a billionaire decades from now. What's Adam Silver gonna do, force Sarver to sell the team like he already did with Sterling? Silver said all the racism and misogyny was “without animus,” like a little jokey-joke, a cute little inability to read the room. Where's the line? If the NBA doesn't know where the line is, why try drawing one? Sounds hard.
EPSN's Zach Lowe said on NBA Today all this stuff counts as animus. LeBron James said the NBA got this one wrong. Suns superstar, veteran leader, and top-5 point guard of all time Chris Paul said “sanctions fell short.” Adam Silver said “I don't have the right to take away his team.” Robert Sarver, the man described in this article, still owns the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. You just won't see him until 2023, when the NBA is banking on you forgetting about everything we just detailed.
Image: Wikimedia Commons: Mwinnog2777
Talk basketball with Chris Corlew on Twitter.