ESPN's Baxter Holmes published a report on Thursday detailing a culture of racism and misogyny within the Phoenix Suns under Robert Sarver.
Interviews with more than 70 former and current Suns employees throughout Sarver's 17-year tenure describe a toxic and sometimes hostile workplace under Sarver. Some told ESPN that he has used racially insensitive language repeatedly in the office. Employees recounted conduct they felt was inappropriate and misogynistic, including Sarver once passing around a picture of his wife in a bikini to employees and speaking about times his wife performed oral sex on him.
"The level of misogyny and racism is beyond the pale," one Suns co-owner said about Sarver. "It's embarrassing as an owner."
Said a former Suns basketball executive: "There's literally nothing you could tell me about him from a misogynistic or race standpoint that would surprise me."
Multiple current and former employees also told ESPN about conduct by other members of the Suns leadership team that they felt contributed to a toxic and sometimes hostile work environment. While none said Sarver was involved in those incidents, many felt that Sarver's own conduct contributed to a culture that affected how some other managers within the organization treated their employees.
Earl Watson spoke of an incident in October of 2016 in which Sarver used racist language.
"You know, why does Draymond Green get to run up the court and say [N-word]," Sarver, who is white, allegedly said, repeating the N-word several times in a row.
"You can't say that," Watson, who is Black and Hispanic, told Sarver.
"Why?" Sarver replied. "Draymond Green says [N-word]."
"You can't f---ing say that," Watson said again.
Through his legal team, Sarver denied using racially insensitive language. "I've never called anyone or any group of people the N-word, or referred to anyone or any group of people by the N-word, either verbally or in writing. I don't use that word. It is abhorrent and ugly and denigrating and against everything I believe in."