LeBron James and Chris Paul are leading the chorus of NBA players and other personalities who openly disagree with how league commish Adam Silver has decided to address the debacle with Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver. The NBA banned Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million based on its findings from a 10-month independent probe, but James firmly believes the league “got this wrong.”
“Read through the Sarver stories a few times now,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward tweeted Wednesday evening. “Y’all read the stories and decide for yourself,” he added. “I said it before and I’m gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for [misogyny, sexism, and racism…] We hold our league up as an example of our values and this aint [sic] it.”
NBA guard Chris Paul, who’s played for the Suns since 2020, shared his disappointment with the league’s call, too. A few hours after James, he tweeted that he also believes “the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior.”
Since the revelations, fans and players alike have been drawing parallels between Sarver and former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Per the league’s report, Sarver was found to have used the N-word at least five times when speaking about certain players. He allegedly engaged in “instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees” and making “sex-related comments” about female employees as well.
And though Sarver did not agree “with some of the particulars of the NBA report,” he admitted that he may have uttered the N-word at times, but only when repeating what someone else had said verbatim. Nevertheless, he did issue a statement of apology.
“It was relevant,” Silver said in a statement on Tuesday, per ESPN. “I think if they had made findings that, in fact, his conduct was motivated by racial animus, absolutely that would have had an impact on the ultimate outcome here. But that’s not what they found.”
“I have certain authority by virtue of this organization, and that’s what I exercise,” he also said. “I don’t have the right to take away his team. I don’t want to rest on that legal point because of course there could be a process to take away someone’s team in this league… But, to me, the consequences are severe here on Mr. Sarver.”
And the commissioner reiterated the point at a press conference the following day. “For me the situations are dramatically different,” Silver told the media. “What we saw in the case of Donald Sterling was blatant racist conduct directed at a select group of people.”
But there are some who feel the league still fell well short in punishing Sarver.
National Basketball Players Association executive director Tamika Tremaglio issued a statement saying she believes “Mr. Sarver should never hold a managerial position within our league again.”
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson likened the fine to “nothing but a speeding ticket” for Sarver. And Reverend Al Sharpton issued his own statement, via Ben Golliver of the Washington Post, calling for the permanent removal of Sarver from the NBA.