In an open letter to Phoenix Suns employees and players on Thursday, team vice president Jahm Najafi called out team owner. Robert Sarver retire
In the letter, obtained by CNN, Najafi said: “I cannot in good judgment sit back and allow our children and future generations of fans to think that this behavior is condoned because of wealth and privilege.
“Therefore, in keeping with my commitment to help eradicate any form of racism, sexism and bias, as Vice President of the Phoenix Suns, I am requesting the resignation of Robert Sarver.”
Sarver was fined $10 million and suspended for a year after an independent investigation found he engaged in hostile, racially insensitive and inappropriate behavior.
The report, commissioned by the NBA last fall after an ESPN report on Sarver’s conduct, found that the Suns owner “on at least five occasions during his tenure with the Suns/Mercury organization, repeated the N-word while recounting the statements of others .”
He also “engaged in instances of unfair behavior toward female employees, made numerous sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women, and repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behavior toward male employees,” according to the report.
CNN reached out to the Suns and NBA for comment but did not immediately hear back.
In his letter, Najafi added: “I first of all want to give my deepest thanks to all of you who have had the courage to share your experiences, no matter how difficult they have been, to help put together a clearer picture of what working life must have been like for you during these last 18 years.
“There should be zero tolerance for acts of discrimination at any level, in any setting, let alone professional. There is no question that the findings have determined that Mr. Sarver’s lewd, misogynistic and racist behavior had a profound negative impact on you and has no place in our society.”
On Friday, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said the global technology platform and digital payments company will not renew its sponsorship with the Phoenix Suns if Sarver remains with the team.
“PayPal is a values-driven company and has a strong record of combating racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination,” Schulman said in a statement. “We have reviewed the report of the NBA’s independent investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and found his conduct unacceptable and in conflict with our values.”
National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio posted a Twitter thread late Wednesday night stating her position in the completed investigation and punishment for Robert Sarver, owner of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. Tremaglio’s thread was shared further on the NBPA’s official Twitter account.
The thread reads: “Yesterday the NBA released the results of the Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz independent investigation into Suns Governor Robert Sarver. The reported actions and behavior of Mr. Sarver are appalling and have no place in our sport or any workplace for that matter.
“Additionally, the investigation confirmed that Mr. Sarver’s deplorable behavior did not just come to light in November 2021. In fact, the report indicated Mr. Sarver’s long history of inappropriate behavior, including racial and gender insensitivity, misogyny, and harassment .
“All things that have led to a toxic work environment for over a decade. I have made my position known to Adam Silver regarding my thoughts on the extent of the punishment, and strongly believe that Mr. Sarver should never again hold a managerial position within our league.”
On Wednesday, LeBron James and former NBPA president Chris Paul both expressed their doubts about the NBA’s handling of the investigation and punishment.
CNN has reached out to the NBA and Phoenix Suns to confirm ESPN reports that vice president and minority owner Sam Garvin has become the team’s interim governor during Sarver’s years-long suspension.