Jahm Najafi, the Phoenix Suns’ second largest stakeholder, called for the resignation of owner Robert Sarver two days after Sarver received a one-year ban from the NBA over workplace misconduct.
Najafi called for Sarver’s resignation in an open letter penned to Suns fans on Thursday. The Suns governor said in the statement that he will work to find a new managing partner. He added that he does not seek to be Sarver’s replacement as the owner of the Suns.
“In accordance with my commitment to helping eradicate any form of racism, sexism and bias, as Vice Chairman of the Phoenix Suns, I am calling for the resignation of Robert Sarver,” Najafi wrote in a statement.
Along with the one-year ban, the NBA handed Sarver a $10 million fine after findings in a probe stated he used the N-word “on at least five occasions” and engaged in “inequitable conduct toward female employees.”
The probe also detailed that Sarver, who bought the Suns in 2004, “made many sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women,” and “on several occasions engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.”
“Similar conduct by a CEO, executive director, president, teacher, coach or any other position of leadership would warrant immediate termination,” Najafi wrote in his statement. “The fact that Robert Sarver ‘owns’ the team does not give him a license to treat others differently than any other leader.”
Allegations of misogyny and racism with the Suns organization surfaced last November. Sarver’s suspension is the biggest punishment handed down by the NBA since commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life from the NBA and fined the former Los Angeles Clippers owner $2.5 million after investigating racist comments he made on a phone call to an ex-girlfriend.
Chris Paul, who previously served as president of the NBAPA, expressed his disappointment with the NBA’s discipline handed to Sarver.
“Like many others, I reviewed the report,” Paul wrote on Twitter. “I was and am horrified and disappointed by what I read. This conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated. I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior.”
Lakers All-Star LeBron James also expressed disappointment with the discipline.
“Our league definitely got this wrong,” James wrote on Twitter. I don’t need to explain why. Y’all read the stories and decide for yourself. I said it before and I’m gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for that kind of behavior.”