Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Vincent Goodwill reflects on the league’s investigation into the Phoenix Suns & Mercury governor, who was suspended one year and fined $10 million for multiple workplace violations - including the use of racially insensitive language and sexual statements.
VINCENT GOODWILL: If nothing else, give the NBA credit for transparency. They laid bare all of Robert Sarver's sins, as he was suspended for a year from the Phoenix Suns and fined a maximum of $10 million. The racism was undeniable, cloaked with and repeating the n-word so many times as what he'd heard, as opposed to him presenting it as an original thought.
The sexism was obvious. Clearly there was an environment where female employees were encouraged to be uncomfortable. Some of his behavior was sophomoric. Some of it you might even consider harmless and frat boy-ish as if you were in college. But this isn't college. This is a professional environment. And if Donald Sterling is the specter for which all ownership behavior and removal and fines are to be judged, the question begs, why is Robert Sarver being allowed to keep his team?
Now you can say that the Donald Sterling situation was tricky, that because it happened during the playoffs, and that there was an audio recording, that it made it a lot trickier for the NBA, compared to this situation. There was no smoking gun. There was just an ESPN scathing report that seemed to be corroborated, except with the NBA when they seem to say that there was no racial animus within all of the corroborated reports of Robert Sarver doing things that looked awfully racist.
Now there can't be racism unless there's a possibility that somebody just might be a racist. Now, if someone is a racist, that does not automatically mean that they should lose their team. Contrary to popular belief, Adam Silver works for the owners, not the other way around. And this is not during the 2014 playoffs. This is during the off-season after an exhaustive investigation. And the NBA completely pulled out all the stops, after months and months of seeming like they were delaying the inevitable of letting him off with a slap on the wrist.
And let's be honest, it certainly feels like it's a slap on the wrist. He still gets to keep his team. He still gets to reap the profits. And although he doesn't get to show up at the facility or games, he's still the complete owner after this year is up. If Sarver is allowed to keep his team, and it appears that no punitive real action will be taken from him, the question begs, what would he have had to do for the NBA to take real action against him?