NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio, saying she was speaking on behalf of NBA players, on Friday called for a lifetime ban of Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver, who was given a one-year suspension by the league for racist and misogynist remarks.
“We are absolutely calling for that [lifetime ban],” Tremaglio said in an interview on ESPN’s NBA Today. “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 the 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.”
Tremaglio confirmed that she was speaking on behalf of players, with her remarks coming after Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Suns point guard Chris Paul had tweeted their disappointment with the NBA’s punishment of Sarver earlier this week.
“It is our players’ desire that while we understand that there has been a thorough investigation and while 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 be back in a position where he will be impacting our players and those who serve our players on a daily basis,” Tremaglio said.
In addition to the one-year ban, Sarver was also fined $10 million after the NBA on Tuesday released its findings from a 10-month independent investigation into allegations of workplace abuse during Sarver’s tenure as managing partner of the Suns that has spanned nearly two decades .
The NBA commissioned an investigation into the wake of an ESPN story in November 2021 detailing allegations of racism and misogyny during Sarver’s 17 years as owner.
Tremaglio told ESPN that she has expressed her views to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, though it remains unclear if the league’s punishment toward Sarver will change.
“I don’t know how to open [Silver] is in terms of wanting to make the change,” Tremaglio said. “I think it is our hope that it will be very clear that Mr. Sarver should not be able to be in a position to come back and be in a managerial position. We’ve heard from other owners. We’ve heard from sponsors, etc. I think it’s pretty clear that there’s no expectation from him returning.”
Tremaglio was asked whether there have been any conversations with players about boycotting games as training camp approaches.
“We have not had those discussions as of yet,” Tremaglio said. “We are all gearing up for a season. … But I think it is very clear that our players are incredibly upset about what has occurred. Their hearts go out to the families and all of the individuals who have actually had to endure this for such a long period of time. But at the same time they recognize that they have a job to do and they are really excited about moving forward with the season.”
Added Tremaglio: “Quite frankly, I know that we never want our players to be in a position where they are unsafe or individuals that they are around are unsafe. Mr. Sarver had the ability to set the tone at the top. And for us to have individuals that are in a leadership role impacting the game in that way is detrimental to the success of our players and the safety of our players and that will not be tolerated.”