Lebron James, Chris Paul Speak Out In Protest Over NBA’s Discipline Against Suns’ Robert Sarver

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The disciplinary action against Phoenix Suns Owner Robert Sarver is making waves across the world of basketball, and has garnered a major reaction from two of the biggest stars in basketball. Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns both took to social media to voice their displeasure over how the league handled the Sarver situation.

James said that the league “definitely got this wrong” and that there is no room in the NBA for Sarver’s reported behavior. Sarver was given a 1-year suspension as a result of an investigation into the franchise for the alleged violation of workplace standards. In addition to the suspension, Sarver was also fined $10 million dollars.

Sarver is also the owner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury team. The investigation was reportedly commissioned by the league after ESPN published an article in November of 2021, which detailed various allegations of misogyny and racism during Sarver’s 17-year tenure as team owner.

NBA Communications issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the investigation into the Suns. The league stated that it found that Sarver used the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others” during his tenure with both the Suns and Mercury franchises. The NBA also reportedly found instances of “inequitable conduct towards female employees,” including inappropriate comments regarding the appearances of employees and “sex-related comments.”

James had this to say on Twitter:

“Read through the Sarver stories a few times now. I gotta be honest…Our league definitely got this wrong. 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”.

James became the new highest-earning player in NBA history back in August, thanks to his new contract-extension with the Los Angeles Lakers. James agreed to a 2-year, $97.1 million extension with the Lakers which pushes his career guaranteed money to $532 million. While James is not eligible for a no-trade clause due, the extension does include a 15% trade kicker and a 3rd-year player option for the 2024-25 NBA season. A trade kicker turns a specific percentage of a player’s salary into a bonus in the event of a trade. James was entering the final year of his current deal prior to the extension getting done.

“I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership,” James continued. “But this isn’t right. There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don’t matter if you own the team or play for the team. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this aint it.

Phoenix Suns star player Chris Paul also took to social media in protest, stating that he was “horrified and disappointed” after reading the reports about his team’s owner.

“Like many others, I reviewed the report,” Paul said. “I was and am horrified and disappointed by what I read. This conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke to media on Wednesday, defending the disciplinary action taken against Sarver. Silver stated that he was in “disbelief to a certain extent” over what he learned had transpired in the Suns organization. Silver also said that he was “disheartened” by the revelation, and issued an apology to both the former and current Phoenix Suns employees.

“From a personal standpoint, I was in disbelief to a certain extent about what I learned that had transpired over the last 18 years in the Suns organization. I was saddened by it, disheartened. I want to again apologize to the former, and in some cases current, employees of the Phoenix Suns for what they had to experience. There is absolutely no excuse for it. And we addressed it.”

Silver continued on, defending the disciplinary action taken against Sarver by saying he believes they dealt with the situation “in a fair manner.”

“Let me reiterate: The conduct is indefensible. But I feel we dealt with it in a fair manner, both taking into account the totality of the circumstances, not just those particular allegations but the 18 years in which Mr. Sarver has owned the Suns and the Mercury.”

Paul took exception with the imposed discipline, saying that the NBA “fell short.”