Jahm Najafi, vice chairman and minority owner of the Phoenix Suns and the team’s second-largest shareholder, called for the resignation of major shareholder Robert Sarver in an open letter to team employees released Thursday night. Claims that obscenity, misogyny and any workplace racism should be treated.
Sarver was banned from the NBA for a year and fined $10 million after the NBA on Tuesday released a 10-month independent investigation into allegations of workplace abuse during his nearly 20 years as a Suns managing partner.
Najafi, who has been critical of Sarver since ESPN first reported the allegations in November, is one of three Suns vice chairmen and several other minority investors are part of the ownership group.
“Similar conduct by any CEO, executive director, president, teacher, coach or any other leadership position requires immediate termination,” Najafi wrote in the letter. “The fact that Robert Sarver ‘owns’ this team doesn’t give him permission to treat others differently than any other leader. The fact that anyone will find him fit to lead because of this ‘ownership’ status It’s to forget that NBA teams belong to the communities they serve.
“Team investors are just temporary stewards. If we as sports leaders are not held to the same standards, how can we expect a functioning society with integrity and respect at every level? We owe you: staff, players, partners, and you The family provides the same positive work environment we demand of any other business.
“With good judgment, I cannot sit idly by and allow our children and future generations of fans to think that this behavior is tolerated because of wealth and privilege. Therefore, according to me, help eliminate any form of racism, sexism and The promise of prejudice, as the vice president of the Phoenix Suns, I am calling for the resignation of Robert Sarver.”
In a string of allegations substantiated by an investigation by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Sarver was found to have repeated the N-word at least five times in recounting other people’s statements — “four black and white subordinates told him that he should not Use the word, even if it is to repeat another word,” the report said. The investigation also found “instances of unfair behaviour towards female staff”, including “sex-related comments” and inappropriate comments about staff appearances.
Najafi went on to write that while he has no interest in becoming the Suns’ managing partner, “I will work tirelessly to ensure that the next team steward treats all stakeholders with dignity, professionalism and respect.”
Back in November 2021, hours after ESPN’s investigation was published, Najafi released a statement that read in part: “Team investors are only temporary stewards of this treasure. Our job as stewards is to ensure that every Individuals are treated with respect and equality.”
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Suns point guard Chris Paul also expressed disappointment at the NBA’s punishment of Sarver, with Paul tweeting: “I don’t think the sanctions really address the brutality we all agree on. Problem. Behavior.”
Najafi’s letter was released the same day Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and some city council members issued a statement saying they were “appalled by the actions detailed in the Sarver report.”
“It is unacceptable for the organization’s leadership to be associated in any way with the despicable behavior detailed in the report,” the statement said. “We are equally concerned with a culture that allows these behaviors to occur time and time again. , and – – at most – ineffective disciplinary action.”
Gallego added in the statement, “We have asked city staff to investigate any action we as Phoenix leaders could take based on the details corroborated in the report.”