When ESPN mentioned Allegations last year that Robert Sarver, owner of Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, was creating and fostering an environment of racism, sexism and general harassment within his organization, I wrote was “A problem that white men must solve. “
What I meant by that was that, throughout the history of this country, racial and gender rights were only won when white men finally decided that racism and sexism weren’t right. By the simple fact that white people outnumber and outnumber other racial and ethnic groups, whites—whether by force or willingness—have to actually be who they want to be in order for this to happen.
So I realized that if Sarver’s actions — constantly using the N word, constantly commenting on female staff appearances, just a blanket ass — were to be fixed, it wouldn’t be because of what the black players or coaches did, but the other white team owners and the white guy who runs the league , Commissioner Adam Silver.
Well, maybe I got it wrong. Believing in white men to do the right thing is always a mixed bag, as was the case with Sarver’s investigation. On Tuesday, the league released its nearly year-long report on Sarver’s tenure as owner of Suns and Mercury. It found that Sarver used “racially insensitive” or, more generally, “racist” language, engaged in “unfair behavior towards female employees”, made “gender-related comments” and treated employees in “aggressive and degrading ways”.
For these actions, Sarver, who has owned Suns and Mercury since 2004, He was suspended for one season and fined $10 million, the maximum allowed by the NBA. He may not be involved in “business operations or basketball” for either team while suspended.
Sarver’s sentence appears harsh but falls short of action against the latest owner accused of horrific racist comments about blacks: Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers.
In 2014, Sterling was recorded on tape telling his lover not to associate with black men or bring them to team games. In response, the NBA imposed a $2.5 million fine and banned him from the league for life.
Understandably, given Sterling’s penalty, Sarver would also have been banned from the league for life. Among other things, a league investigation found that Sarver used the N-word at least five times in front of his employees, and said he “hated[d] “You’ve never seen anything this big before” said a staff member before preparing to shower at the team facility, and “exposed his genitals to a staff member who was on his knees in front of Sarver for a fitness check.”
But when you put aside the seemingly progressive messages of the NBA across the board, the league is a business at the end of the day. A large company that generated record revenue of $10 billion last year, according to Silver.
And those billionaires who own these teams don’t necessarily want to start setting precedents to take their teams off them – even if they are going to earn billions from forced sales.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said a lot during the Sterling saga. “I think you have to be very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do,” he said before Sterling’s ban. “It’s a very slippery slope.” Silver said at a news conference this week after announcing the suspension that he “has no right to take out his team.”
Asking for sensitivity training, a fine, and a one-year suspension for Sarver doesn’t really match his egregious behavior, but on the flip side, the NBA wouldn’t force him to sell his team without Sarver explicitly stating that he hates Black people or committing actual sexual assault. If teams can be disqualified for hateful behavior like Sarver’s, how many other team owners could that affect further?
Do I agree with this line of reasoning? of course not. But I understand the capitalist thinking behind it.
Without committing a felony, this was always the result. Until then, maybe not: sterling agreed to pay $2.725 million To resolve the housing discrimination lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Justice five Years before the racism scandal with the NBA.
The NBA may force an owner out one at a time blue, but it’s not exactly in the business of doing the right thing.
The league showed its hand earlier this year when Silver said there was no “discussion” to move the 2023 All-Star Game out of Utah after the state legislature passed a bill banning transgender students from participating in gender-compliant school sports. Just six years ago, the League pulled the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte after the North Carolina legislature passed a bill that would force people to use public restrooms based on “biological sex” on their birth certificate.
Again, if you start setting precedents that league events can evolve and move — and seize all those precious opportunities to make money with them — based on hateful laws, long before only Portland, Oregon, which is fiercely liberal, was able to host the events.
Silver took over the commissioner role in February 2014, and the Sterling episode took place two months into his tenure. Since then, the league has sold itself as this progressive utopia by enabling its black players to take on more figurative ownership of the league and principled positions on social issues. The truth is that the university will always put its business interests before what is morally right.
Chinese League and Hong Kong controversy from 2019? The NBA said as little as possible about it. I argued in 2017, referring to the NFL’s treatment of the national anthem demonstration of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, “The notion that professional basketball is the ideological antithesis of professional football is not rooted in much evidence.” It turns out that the NBA is going to take things as they necessarily should.
Regarding Sarver’s alleged racism, which in reference to the N-word I’m going to argue is white ignorance “why don’t we say it”, this wouldn’t rise to the level of a sterling ban. On the flip side, Sarver’s sexual harassment—and in the case of exposed genitals, borderline sexual abuse—of his employees appears to merit their expulsion from the league and prosecution. But, again, barring actual sexual assault, the league wasn’t setting that precedent.
The NBA is capable of doing many good things in this world, but when it comes down to it, a bunch of white guys make business decisions, which usually means no actual problems will be solved.