Phoenix Suns Vice President Jahm Najafi is out of the country, but he felt very eager to talk about what is happening right now with the NBA franchise.
With Robert Sarver suspended for one year and a $10 million fine for “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies” found in the NBA investigation, Najafi called for Sarver’s resignation in an “open letter” to team players and staff.
“I cannot in my good judgment allow our children and future generations of fans to think that this behavior is permissible because of wealth and privilege,” Najafi wrote. “Therefore, in accordance with my commitment to help eradicate any form of racism, sexism and prejudice, as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Phoenix Suns, I am calling for the resignation of Robert Sarver.”
Najafi concluded his writing on Thursday that he has no interest in becoming a managing partner, but will “work tirelessly to ensure that the team’s next host treats all stakeholders with dignity, professionalism and respect.”
Sam Garvin, vice chairman and minority owner of the Suns, was chosen by the team to be interim governor during Sarver’s suspension that began Tuesday when the NBA announced the results of the investigation.
The investigation was led by Wachtel, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, a New York law firm.
The National Basketball Association granted Garvin acting authority as the team’s arbiter while processing his request to serve as interim governor in place of Sarver.
The Arizona Republic confirmed that Garvin’s name was submitted to the league.
While Garvin is in the process of replacing Sarver during the suspension, Najafi, the senior minority owner of the Suns, wants Sarver to be the owner of the team.
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After an ESPN report was published on November 4 about allegations that Sarver created a “toxic” work environment, Najafi said in a statement that the allegations were “unacceptable.”
“The behavior he allegedly committed shocked and saddened me and is unacceptable,” Najafi said in a statement. “The welfare and safety of every Suns employee, player, coach and stakeholder is our first and foremost priority. My deepest sympathy goes to all whose lives and careers have been impacted. I am personally committed to helping eliminate any form of racism, sexism, and prejudice, which is not acceptable anywhere in our society.”
Now that the investigation is complete and it is confirmed that Sarver used the N-word several times and made sexist comments, Najafi has again chosen to express his feelings about the situation in writing.
Najafi opened the letter saying he was speaking on behalf of employees “affected” by their interactions with the 60-year-old Sarver.
“First of all, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of you who have had the courage to share your experiences, however difficult, to help put together a clearer picture of what working life has been like for you over the past eighteen years.”
He then referred to Sarver using the N word and made inappropriate comments towards women in a professional setting.
“There should be no tolerance for discriminatory acts of any level and anywhere, let alone professional,” Najafi wrote. “There is no doubt that the results determined that Mr. Sarver’s lewd, misogynistic and racist behavior had a significant negative impact on you and had no place in our society.”
Najafi continues his message, saying that anyone in a leadership position such as CEO, president or coach would “justify the immediate termination” of Sarver’s actions.
“The fact that Robert Sarver ‘owns’ the team does not give him a license to treat others differently than any other leader,” Najafi said. “The fact that anyone would find it convenient to lead because of this ‘ownership’ location ignores that NBA teams belong to the communities they serve.”
Describing the team’s investors as “temporary agents,” Najafi said, they should be subject to the same standards as the “functional” community.
“If we, as sports leaders, do not adhere to the same standards, how can we expect a functional society with integrity and respect at any level?” Al-Nujaifi Books. “We owe it to you: your employees, players, partners, and your families to provide the same positive work environment we demand in any other business.”
Al-Nujaifi concluded the letter, calling for Sarver’s resignation.
You can reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at Tweet embed.
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