We need to talk about the NBA’s suspension of Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver
One year. Ten Million Dollars.
That’s the penalty for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury’s managing partner after an 11-month investigation that revealed 17 years of Robert Sarver acting cringier than the Scott’s Tot’s episode of the Office.
One year. Ten Million Dollars.
Since it doesn’t look like he’s going to be forced to sell the team, let’s take a closer look at what that ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver.
Ten million dollars bought a pass from Adam Silver for at least five confirmed occasions over the span of 12 years where Robert Sarver had to be reminded by people around him that it wasn’t appropriate for him to repeat the n word, whether it was during a free agent courting session in 2004, or in an angry tirade about Draymond Green’s on-court language in 2016.
Ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver out of any proper consequences for unnecessarily pulling his penis out in front of a physician, talking about his penis in front of a female employee, and walking around naked in front of male employees.
Ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver out of having to face the music for depantsing an employee in front of coworkers, talking in a sexual manner about his players’ significant others, and getting caught in a lie by the lawfirm that investigated this case about his habit of shouting and cursing at employees.
Ten million dollars in exchange for the ability to tell a pregnant female employee that she should be at home nursing babies, commenting on another female employee’s breast augmentation, and organizing a lunch for female employees to try and toughen up one staffer that cried about being screamed at.
That’s what ten million dollars gets you.
Let’s take the NBA’s investigating lawfirm, and Adam Silver at their word for a minute.
Let’s say that Robert Sarver isn’t a racist. Let’s say that Robert Sarver isn’t sexist. Those two things could absolutely be true. And if they are true, what it means is something equally discomforting-
Robert Sarver is a dangerous idiot. That’s what the NBA wants you to believe. We’re not dealing with a trained assassin here- we’re dealing with a milk-drunk toddler with a loaded gun.
How is that supposed to make us feel better?
And how does it rectify 17 years of damage that a supposedly non-racist, non-sexist, dangerous idiot toddler did?
Adam Silver and the NBA owners want to be able to chalk this up to a locker-room talk culture, and claim that the Suns, and the league as a whole have already begun to get a handle on it.
Putting aside the irony that Robert Sarver was saved from being forced to sell the team by the fact that his own HR department spent over a decade doing anything but their job, the idea that an owner should have ever been a participant in locker room talk leaves out the very important point that owners are not part of the locker room any more than Elon Musk is part of the Tesla factory floor.
The term locker room talk was popularized when Donald Trump had his Access Hollywood “grab them by the pussy” tape leaked. In that tape, Trump said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”
Thanks to Adam Silver and the NBA, we know the ‘star’ is Robert Sarver.
Let that sink in.