NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was put in a tough spot after his decision on Robert Sarver’s one-year suspension with a $10 million fine. The Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner was investigated for making racist and misogynistic comments in the workplace.
A nine-month long investigation detailed how Sarver used the N-word at least five times during his tenure, while acting inappropriately toward employees.
Silver faced questions during his press conference, challenging the differential treatment between owners and employees if found guilty. He shed light on the rights that came along with being an owner and argued that he exercised his rights. Silver said he could levy a fine and suspension, but couldn't take Sarver’s team from him.
NBA analyst Tim Bontemps was in attendance during Silver’s press conference and acknowledged the position the commissioner was in. He said:
“He [Silver] might not have been handed a great hand to play with here, in terms of trying to make this look good. It was probably going to be a loss for him PR-wise no matter what he said. But it was made pretty clear to me, sitting there, that this was Adam Silver taking one for the team.”
Silver has been lauded for the way he’s run the league over the past few years. He built up goodwill by recognizing the needs of all the stakeholders and assisting the growth of the league in the best way possible. But due to the magnitude of the current situation, Bontemps reported a bad day in the office for Silver:
“I would say that yesterday was probably the worst day of Adam Silver’s tenure. And I would say that for people that over the past eight or 10 years have looked at Adam Silver. And you know, though of him in a different light than say, Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL.
"I think you saw yesterday those two guys have the same job.”
NBA players have called out Adam Silver for decision
This is not the first time NBA players are seeing racism in the league, and their reactions are a testament to the fact. LeBron James responded to the league’s decision in the matter, claiming there is no place for such behavior.
Quite a few of the Phoenix Suns’ current and former employees have spoken on the matter as well, calling the workplace around Robert Sarver toxic. Former President of the NBPA and Suns star Chris Paul also voiced his opinion. He expressed discontent toward the decision:
“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.”
When the former owner of the LA Clippers, Donald Sterling, was under investigation and subsequently proven guilty, players stood in unity. Clippers players back then protested on-court, hiding the team’s logo on their warm-up T-shirts.
The pressure from the players led to Sterling losing control of the organization. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out once the new season begins in October.