A story published by ESPN on Thursday detailed allegations of racism and misogyny by Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.
ESPN interviewed more than 70 current and former Suns, employees who recounted conduct they felt was "inappropriate and misogynistic" and created a toxic workplace environment.
"The level of misogyny and racism is beyond pale," one co-owner told ESPN. "It's embarrassing as an owner."
Current and former Suns employees told ESPN that Sarver said he was "brutal to work for" over the year in job interviewers and told executives that they were paid to "put up with my s***."
Suns staffers reportedly recounted Sarver's frequent use of the N-word, including around former Phoenix head coach Earl Watson.
The NBA has announced that it is launching an investigation into the Suns and the conduct of Sarver.
"The allegations contained in today's ESPN article are extremely serious, and we have directed the Wachtell Lipton law firm to commence a comprehensive investigation," NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass said in a statement.
"The NBA and WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees. Once the investigation is completed, its findings will provide the basis for any league action."
Multiple current and former employees told ESPN that members of the Suns executive team also contributed to a toxic workplace within the organization. Two former employees said that one white male executive repeatedly called a Black co-worker "Carlton," in reference to the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" TV show despite being told on multiple occasions to stop.
Sarver and ownership partners purchased the Suns for approximately $400 million in 2004. Sarver is the managing partner of the team and had a 30% stake in the team at the time of purchase. The Suns are the 18th most valuable team in the NBA, according to Forbes at $1.8 billion.
Sarver also owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.