Phoenix Suns vice chairman and minority owner Jahm Najafi, the team’s second-largest shareholder, called for the resignation of majority owner Robert Sarver in an open letter to the team’s employees released Thursday night, saying there should be “zero tolerance” for obscenity, misogynistic and . Racial behavior in any workplace.
Sarver was banned from the NBA for a year and fined $10 million after the NBA on Tuesday published its findings from a 10-month independent investigation into allegations of workplace abuse during Sarver’s nearly spanning tenure as a managing partner of Suns. of two decades.
Najafi, who has criticized Sarver since ESPN first reported the allegations in November, is one of three vice presidents of Suns, with several other minority investors also part of the proprietary group.
“Similar conduct by any CEO, CEO, president, teacher, coach, or other leadership position warrants immediate termination,” Najafi wrote in the letter. The fact that Robert Sarver “owns” the team does not give him a license to treat others differently than any other captain. And the fact that anyone might find him fit to lead because of this “ownership” position forgets that NBA teams belong to the communities they serve.
“Team investors are just temporary hosts. If we, as sports leaders, don’t adhere to the same standards, how can we expect a career community of integrity and respect at any level? We owe it to you: your employees, players, partners, and your family to provide the same positive workplace environment we demand for any other business.” .
“I cannot, in good faith, allow our children and future generations of fans to believe that such behavior is permissible because of wealth and privilege. Therefore, in accordance with my commitment to help eradicate any form of racism, sexism, and prejudice, Phoenix Corporation Vice Chairman The Suns call for the resignation of Robert Sarver.”
Among the series of allegations confirmed by the investigation by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Sarver found that, on at least five occasions, he repeated the N-word when listing others — “four of those after being told by black and white subordinates that no The word should be used, even in repeating another word,” according to the report. The investigation also revealed “cases of unfair behavior towards female employees”, including “sex-related comments” and inappropriate comments on female employees’ appearance.
Najafi went on to write that despite his lack of interest in becoming the managing partner of Suns, “I will work tirelessly to ensure that the next team host treats all stakeholders with dignity, professionalism and respect.”
Najafi issued a statement in November 2021, hours after the publication of the ESPN investigation, in which he wrote in part: “The team’s investors are simply temporary stewards of this treasure. It is our duty to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and as an equal.”
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Chris Paul also expressed disappointment with Sarver’s NBA penalty, with Paul writing in a tweet, “I’m of the view that the penalties fail to address what we can all agree is terrible behavior.”
Najafi’s letter was published on the same day Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and some city council members issued a statement saying they were “appalled by the measures” detailed in Sarver’s report.
That statement said: “It is unacceptable that the leadership of the organization is associated in any way with the despicable acts detailed in the report. We are equally concerned about a culture that would enable these actions to happen over and over, with – at most – ineffective disciplinary action. .
“We have asked city employees to investigate any actions we, as leaders of the City of Phoenix, can take in light of the details documented in the report,” Gallego added in the statement.
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