PHOENIX (AP) - The Phoenix Suns released a statement regarding a
potential media investigation into the workplace culture of the
franchise, denying that the organization or owner Robert Sarver
have a history of racism or sexism.
The statement sent Friday said the organization is aware that
ESPN is working on a story accusing the organization of
misconduct on a "variety of topics." The Suns responded by
saying they were "completely baseless claims" and "documentary
evidence in our possession and eyewitness accounts directly
contradict the reporter’s accusations, and we are preparing our
response to his questions."
Sarver — a Phoenix businessman — has owned the Suns since 2004.
Suns general manager James Jones, who is Black, said in the
team’s response: "None of what’s been said describes the Robert
Sarver I know, respect and like – it just doesn’t."
The franchise is coming off one of the most successful seasons
in its history, making the NBA Finals with stars Devin Booker,
Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton before losing in six games to the
Milwaukee Bucks. The Suns have made the Finals three times, in
1976, 1993 and 2021, but have never won a championship.
Suns coach Monty Williams addressed the media Friday before the
team's game against the Lakers in Los Angeles, saying he was
aware of the potential report but said he didn't want to
"comment about it until I have time to process a lot of
information and get everything I need to know about the
He added that he didn't expect the situation would be a
distraction for the team.
"Nothing will invade or erode our culture," Williams said.
"That's something we've said from Day 1. Wins, losses, we get to
play basketball, we get to hoop and that's not going to change."
The potential investigation came to light Friday when league
analyst Jordan Schultz posted a message on social media that
said the league was preparing for a "massive" story and that if
there is "enough evidence to support such claims, there’s a real
chance the league would forcibly remove Sarver."
Sarver and the Suns responded with a lengthy statement. The 59-
year-old Sarver also owns the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury.
"While I can’t begin to know how to respond to some of the vague
suggestions made by mostly anonymous voices, I can certainly
tell you that some of the claims I find completely repugnant to
my nature and to the character of the Suns/Mercury workplace and
I can tell you they never, ever happened," Sarver said.
Not even a full week into the season, the NBA now has yet
another potentially significant issue on its hands — even
without knowing the full scope of the accusations that the Suns
say are coming.
The statements from the Suns came two days after Boston center
Enes Kanter called for Tibetan independence, comments that
prompted a Chinese broadcasting partner to stop streaming
Celtics games in the basketball-crazed country.
There are also two high-profile players sidelined for various
reasons, with Brooklyn not allowing Kyrie Irving to be around
their team until he gets vaccinated against the coronavirus and
Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons not participating in practices or
games with the 76ers after seeking a trade that has yet to be