The calls for the NBA to eject Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver keep getting louder.
Three days after the NBA released a report detailing the billionaire’s workplace misconduct and disciplining him with a one-year suspension and $10 million fine, National Basketball Players Association executive director Tamika Tremaglio said the players union is calling for Sarver to banned from the league for life.
Tremaglio had previously released a statement calling Sarver’s reported actions “horrible” and saying he should never hold a managerial position in the NBA again. She expanded on those thoughts in an interview with ESPN’s “NBA Today” on Friday:
“We are absolutely calling for [a lifetime ban]. We do not want him to be in a position where he is managing or engaging with individuals who are engaging with our players or our players themselves. We are absolutely clear from the findings that are in the report that we do not want him to be in that position.”
LeBron James, Suns minority owner have criticized Sarver’s punishment
Tremaglio isn’t the only figure on the players’ side to take shots at Sarver, as LeBron James criticized Sarver’s discipline for being too lenient and said there was no place in the NBA for his conduct. Suns star and former NBPA president Chris Paul also said the punishment “fell short.”
James and Paul apparently aren’t the only players who think this. Tremaglio said she has had “many conversations” with players since the release of the report and found a clear consensus:
“It is our players’ desire that while we understand that there has been a thorough investigation and we’re very pleased that the NBA was able to follow through on that, because that’s clearly something that we want to see happen, we also want to make it very clear that we do not want him to back in a position where he will be impacting our players and those who serve our players on a daily basis.”
Additional pressure against Sarver has come from Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi and longtime Suns sponsor PayPal, both of whom have called for Sarver’s removal.
The only precedent for banning an NBA owner for life came in 2014 with Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, whose racist comments caught on a recording triggered a firestorm that ended with his ban four days later.
Silver, who also handled the Sterling matter, defended Sarver’s punishment on Wednesday by calling the two situations “dramatically different” and pointing to the blatant racism of Sterling. While the NBA investigation found Sarver to have used the N-word at least five times, it was reportedly only to relay statements from Black people, though Sarver was apparently told multiple times it was something he should not do.
When asked about the possibility of a player boycott against Sarver, Tremaglio said there had been no discussions of the idea, but reiterated the players were upset Sarver has been allowed to keep his teams.