One of the biggest news recently in the NBA was the punishment of Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver. The league fined him $10 million and suspended him for one year to participate in activities related to the two teams he owns. This punishment by the NBA came after a 10-month long investigation which concluded that Sarver used the n-word repeatedly and at the same time disparaged women in the workplace by creating a hostile working environment for them.
The NBA community was displeased by the fine issued by the league
Chris Paul and LeBron James immediately came out saying the punishment for Sarver was not enough considering everything he had done, and there was a sense of disappointment because he wasn't punished accordingly.
"How is it possible that owners using the n-word and harassing female employees is still a thing? Because some wealthy team owners still have a plantation mentality that their money insulates them from common decency or the law. They see themselves as elevated to godlike status and are confused and angry when everyone around them isn't grateful to be in their presence. Instead of receding into history where it belongs, this arrogant paternal attitude has gained traction since the ascension of Trump and his acolytes. They have demeaned women by denying them their reproductive rights, banished the LGBTQ+ community, and diminished Blacks by curtailing their voting."
Kareem is surprised Sarver was able to get away with this for such a long time
Kareem also argues how Sarver is just one part of a much bigger problem which he identifies as a "conservative backlash" against minority groups that have gained more power and influence over recent years. He also argues how Sarver could do these things for 18 years, and nobody has stopped him until now.
"Sarver is just part of the larger pattern of the resurgence of an entitled conservative backlash against all marginalized people who have been making social and political progress. How was he able to get away with it for 18 years? That's the real question—and the answer shames us all."
Kareem compared Sarver to the former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling who was also accused and punished for his racist comments and inappropriate behavior. When it comes to Sarver, he even had his advisors telling him he should cut down on his behavior which Sarver disregarded and continued doing what he was doing."
In 2014, I wrote an article for Time encouraging the NBA to strip Donald Sterling of his ownership of the Clippers for the racist comments caught on tape by his then-girlfriend. Sarver should face the same punishment. What message does it convey to the public that 18 years of racism, misogyny, and mistreatment of employees is not enough to warrant getting booted from ownership? Reports confirm that throughout the years, members of Sarver's staff advised him against this behavior, which he deliberately chose to ignore because he knew that money sets moral standards.
Will the NBA force Sarver to sell the team after his one-year ban is over?
Kareem concluded that the fine against Sarver wasn't enough, even though the league had the perfect opportunity to send a statement that this type of racist behavior would never be tolerated but unfortunately, they missed it.
"The NBA is the most socially progressive professional sports organization around, but they disappointed a lot of players, fans, and the general public by not taking the punishment far enough. A mere fine and one-year suspension is not an endorsement of Sarver's behavior, but neither is it the zero-tolerance rejection it should be. The NBA had the opportunity to make a bold statement in support of Black players and women. But they blinked."
NBA's fine against Sarver is the harshest one so far, and it will be interesting to see what will happen in a year after his suspension actually ends. There is a high possibility there will be further pressure on the NBA to take remove Sarver from the Phoenix Suns and find someone else who would be willing to buy the team. That in itself is a challenging task, and the process is somewhat complicated, but we've seen a similar scenario with Donald Sterling selling his team to Steve Ballmer after all the controversies.