PHOENIX — PayPal says it won't renew its partnership with the Phoenix Suns after the end of this upcoming season if team owner Robert Sarver remains involved with the organization.
The move comes the same week that the NBA announced a one-year suspension for Sarver after a lengthy investigation into alleged misconduct.
Sarver is accused of using racial slurs on at least five occasions, treating female employees unequally, and bullying employees on several occasions.
PayPal CEO and President Dan Schulman released the following statement Friday about the company's sponsorship with the team:
"PayPal is a values-driven company and has a strong record of combatting racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination. We have reviewed the report of the NBA league's independent investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and have found his conduct unacceptable and in conflict with our values. PayPal’s sponsorship with the Suns is set to expire at the end of the current season. In light of the findings of the NBA's investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship should Robert Sarver remain involved with the Suns organization, after serving his suspension.
While we strongly reject the conduct of Robert Sarver, we remain supportive of the team, its players and the experienced and diverse talent now leading the organization, including Head Coach, Monty Williams, General Manager, James Jones, Assistant General Manager, Morgan Cato, and Senior Vice President of People and Culture, Kim Corbitt."
Sarver was banned from all team activities for one year and fined $10 million by the NBA after the investigation.
Among the key findings of the NBA's subsequent report:
"Mr. Sarver on at least five occasions during his tenure with the Suns/Mercury organization repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others. Mr. Sarver engaged in instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees, made many sex-related comments in the workplace made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women and on several occasions engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees. Mr. Sarver engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees including by yelling and cursing at them."
Several NBA players including Suns star Chris Paul have spoken out about the NBA's punishments for Sarver saying they were not harsh enough.
Like many others, I reviewed the report. I was and am horrified and disappointed by what I read. This conduct especially towards women is unacceptable and must never be repeated.— Chris Paul (@CP3) September 15, 2022
"I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected," Paul also tweeted.
Lebron James also spoke out about the punishment, saying that it was not harsh enough.
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— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 14, 2022
An executive with the National Basketball Players Association called for Sarver to be banned for life on Friday.
“We are absolutely calling for that,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said when asked about banning Robert Sarver for life.— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) September 16, 2022
“I am speaking on behalf of our players.” pic.twitter.com/MeSRNkgYFQ
Scott N Brooks, Director of the Global Sports Institute at Arizona State University says, "I am pleased with the attention the NBA has given us."
Brooks says the NBA ownership culture needs to change and adding more women and minorities is a good place to start.
“ I would encourage us to be innovative. I’m wondering about models like partnerships at law firms, so there are other ways of sharing ownership’” Brooks added.
Valley church and community leader Matthew Stewart says this is an opportunity for the NBA to make changes.
“What I would want to know is, what is the NBA doing to help counteract some of this type of behavior and culture that is tolerated? I imagine this is not an isolated incident,“ Stewart said.
Sarver is currently banned from the team for one year and must pay a $10 million fine, but many, like Stewart, say this issue is much bigger than doling out individual punishment.
“We have to do the work of creating a culture, and proactively supporting an environment that does minimize the hate and maximize the love we show each other,” Stewart said.