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NBA upholds Sarver fine, suspension

NEW YORK (AFP) — National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday the punishment to Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver for racist and misogynist remarks was severe even though it didn’t force him to sell the team.

Sarver was fined $10 million and suspended for one year by the NBA on Tuesday following a 10-month investigation into Sarver’s actions over 18 years.

“I was in disbelief to a certain extent about what I learned,” Silver said.

“I was saddened by it, disheartened. The conduct is indefensible but I feel we dealt with it in a fair manner.”

In 2014, Silver forced former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell that club after private recordings of him making racist comments were made public.

Silver said the situations were “dramatically different” and there was “no discussion” about the process of removing Sarver as owner but admitted, “There’s no neat answer here.”

“I don’t have the right to take away his team,” Silver said.

“I don’t want to rest on that legal point because of course there could be a process to take away someone’s team in this league. It’s very involved, and I ultimately made the decision that it didn’t rise to that level.”

Silver said many who came forward with evidence were promised confidentiality.

“I have access to information that the public doesn’t,” Silver said.

“I’m able to look at the totality of the circumstances around those events in a way that we’re not able to completely bring to life.”

“I think that puts me in a different position ultimately as the person who has to render the ultimate judgment about what is a fair outcome here.”

Silver saw Sterling and Sarver differently.

“I think what we saw in the case of Donald Sterling was blatant racist conduct directed at a select group of people,” Silver said.

Regarding Sarver, Silver said, “It’s beyond the pale in every possible way to use language and behave that way, but.. it was wholly of a different kind than what we saw in that earlier case.”

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