Asked on Thursday night about the allegations of racism and misogyny leveled against Suns owner Robert Sarver, several of the team’s on-court leaders acknowledged the severity of those allegations while also stating that they’ll wait for more details to come out before jumping to any conclusions. As Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays, head coach Monty Williams and star guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul were among those who addressed the subject.
“As someone who is the caretaker of a program, I find all these things that are being said serious in nature,” Williams said, noting that the incidents described in the ESPN report occurred before he arrived in Phoenix. “It takes courage to come out and express yourself. But at the same time, I’m aware there are two sides to this equation. … We still have to wait to see how clear the facts can appear.
“… If any of that stuff happened while I was here, I wouldn’t be in this seat. The league is doing an investigation, and we’ll know more obviously once that is settled.”
Booker said that he hasn’t noticed any racist or misogynistic behavior from Sarver since joining the team in 2014, but he also disagreed with the team owner’s portrayal of former Suns head coach Earl Watson as an unreliable source. Watson was one of the individuals who went on the record with allegations against Sarver. Asked if he considered his former coach credible, Booker replied, “Earl? Yeah. That’s my guy.”
Watson, who is currently an assistant for the Raptors, issued a statement of his own on Thursday stating that he’s “not interested in engaging in an ongoing battle of fact” and that he doesn’t want to spend every day reliving what was a “traumatic experience” for him.
Here’s more on the Suns and the investigation into the Sarver allegations:
- Paul and Booker said the team is trying to keep its focus on the court and to “control what we can control,” per Bontemps. Booker suggested that Williams is the “perfect person” to help the club navigate the situation. “He’s the best at that, at managing situations, controlling the room and keeping people focused forward,” Booker said of his coach, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “That’s what he’s done with our team, we’ve talked about it as a team. You can feel everything he says. We’re sticking behind him and we’re going to keep playing hard for him and winning basketball games.”
- The Suns continue to publish statements in support of Sarver on their official website. Today, they issued one signed by 12 members of the team’s ownership group, including longtime NFL star Larry Fitzgerald. “To a person, we dispute the characterization of Mr. Sarver and the organization as racist and sexist,” the statement reads. “We support Mr. Sarver’s leadership and stand with him.” It’s unclear exactly how many of the team’s minority shareholders didn’t sign the statement — Baxter Holmes’ ESPN report suggested the ownership group consists of approximately 20 members.
- One of the team’s minority stakeholders, vice chairman Andy Kohlberg, issued a separate statement of his own in addition to signing the aforementioned letter. Kohlberg said he has been business partners with Sarver for more than 17 years and has “never seen nor heard Robert make any statements that I experienced as racist, sexist or misogynistic.”