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Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver was suspended for one year and fined $10 million by the NBA on Tuesday after an investigation into alleged racist and misogynistic remarks.
But Tamika Tremaglio, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), wants much more of a punishment than that.
“We are absolutely calling for [a lifetime ban],” Tremaglio said in an interview on ESPN’s “NBA Today.” “We do not want him to be in a position where he is managing or engaging with individuals who are engaging with our players or the players themselves. We are absolutely clear from the findings that are in the report that we do not want him to be in that position.”
It was found that Sarver “repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others” at least five times and made many “sex-related” and other inappropriate comments in the workplace.
Tremalgio said she appreciates the findings of the investigation of Sarver, but she feels he does not belong in such a position.
“It is our players’ desire that while we understand that there has been a thorough investigation and while we’re very pleased that the NBA was able to follow through on that — because that’s clearly something that we want to see happen — we also want to make it very clear that we do not want him to be back in a position where he will be impacting our players and those who serve our players on a daily basis,” Tremaglio said.
Tremaglio echoed the sentiments of some players she represents, including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Suns guard Chris Paul, as well as Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi.
“Read through the Sarver stories a few times now. I gotta be honest…Our league definitely got this wrong,” James, a four-time MVP, tweeted Wednesday. “I don’t need to explain why. Y’all read the stories and decide for yourself. I said it before and I’m gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for that kind of behavior.”
“I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected,” said Paul, who is the former president of the NBPA.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, however, says he doesn’t “have the right” to take the Suns away from Sarver.
“I don’t want to rest on that legal point because of course there could be a process to take away someone’s team in this league,” Silver said. “It’s very involved, and I ultimately made the decision that it didn’t rise to that level. But to me, the consequences are severe here on Mr. Sarver.”
The NBA found that Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and league rules and policies. This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language, unequal treatment of female employees, sex-related statements and conduct and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”
“Quite frankly, I know that we never want our players to be in a position where they are unsafe or individuals that they are around are unsafe,” Tremaglio added. “Mr. Sarver had the ability to set the tone at the top. And for us to have individuals that are in a leadership role impacting the game in that way is detrimental to the success of our players and the safety of our players and that will not be tolerated.”
Previously, Donald Sterling was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers and was banned for life in 2014 after it was found he made racist remarks.