PayPal said Friday that the company would no longer sponsor the Phoenix Suns if owner Robert Sarver remains with the franchise when his suspension ends.
PayPal said its current partnership agreement with the Suns ends after the upcoming 2022-23 season, meaning it will expire for One-year suspension of Sarver from the NBA. Sarver was suspended this week, plus a $10 million fine, after an investigation showed a pattern of lewd, misogynistic and racist speech and conduct during his 18 years as owner of the Suns.
In a statement, PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman noted his company’s “strong record in the fight against racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination” and said Sarver’s conduct was “unacceptable and in conflict with our values”.
“In light of the findings of the NBA’s investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship if Robert Sarver remains involved with the Suns organization after serving his suspension,” Schulman said.
Schulman said PayPal will continue to support the team, its players “and the experienced and diverse talent currently leading the organization,” including coach Monty Williams, general manager James Jones, assistant general manager Morgan Cato and senior vice president of people and culture Kim Corbitt.
Williams, Jones, Cato and Corbitt are black. Sarver’s investigation showed he “said or claimed to repeat the N-word at least five times during his tenure with the Suns,” but noted that independent attorneys hired by the NBA to conduct the investigation made “no conclusion that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with the intent to belittle or disparage.
PayPal’s statement came a day after Jahm Najafi, vice-president of the Suns called on Sarver to resign, saying there should be “zero tolerance” for lewd, misogynistic and racist behavior in any workplace. Some players, including Suns guard Chris Paul – former president of the National Basketball Players Association – and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, also said NBA sanctions against Sarver didn’t go far enough.
PayPal is based in San Jose, California. The technology platform and digital payments company has also partnered with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a Spanish soccer team, both of which are owned by Sarver.
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