NBA investigating 'extremely serious' allegations against Suns' Sarver

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The NBA formally opened an investigation into the Phoenix Suns and franchise owner Robert Sarver, the league announced Thursday.

The probe is in response to an investigative story released earlier Thursday by ESPN's Baxter Holmes. In that report, current and former Suns staff allege multiple incidents of racism and misogyny, as well as a toxic work environment, under Sarver's watch.

"The allegations contained in today's ESPN article are extremely serious, and we have directed the Wachtell Lipton law firm to commence a comprehensive investigation," the league said in a statement. "The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees.

"Once the investigation is completed, its finding will provide the basis for any league action."

In just one alleged incident, former Suns head coach Earl Watson said Sarver used the N-word following a loss. Multiple other staffers also said they recalled instances of Sarver uttering the word, including an unnamed Black operations staffer who said he heard Sarver use it more than once.

Sarver denied the allegations. However, the 60-year-old admitted to using the word once when quoting a player, but he says he never used it again.

The NBA previously partnered with the Wachtell Lipton firm in 2014 to investigate the Los Angeles Clippers and then-owner Donald Sterling, notes The Athletic's Mike Vorkunov, after private recordings of Sterling surfaced in which he made racist remarks. That investigation culminated with NBA commissioner Adam Silver banning Sterling from the NBA for life, forcing him to sell the Clippers.

Sarver has been the Suns' owner since 2004.

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NBA investigating 'extremely serious' allegations against Suns' Sarver
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