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NBA players want Robert Sarver out; PayPal says if he stays, it won’t remain Phoenix Suns sponsor

Suns owner Robert Sarver was suspended a year and fined $10 million for lewd, misogynistic, and racist speech.Christian Petersen/Photographer: Christian Petersen

PayPal said Friday the company will no longer sponsor the Phoenix Suns if owner Robert Sarver remains part of the franchise when his suspension ends.

And the National Basketball Players Association later made its stance clear, with executive director Tamika Tremaglio telling ESPN that NBA players want Sarver banned for life.

PayPal said its partnership deal with the Suns ends after the 2022-23 season, meaning it will expire during Sarver’s one-year suspension from the NBA. Sarver was suspended this week, plus fined $10 million, after an investigation showed a pattern of lewd, misogynistic, and racist speech and conduct during his 18 years as owner of the Suns.

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In a statement, PayPal president and CEO Dan Schulman pointed to his company’s “strong record of combatting racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination” and said Sarver’s conduct is “unacceptable and in conflict with our values.”

PayPal’s statement came one day after Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi called for Sarver to resign, saying there should be “zero tolerance” for lewd, misogynistic and racist conduct in any workplace. Some players, including Suns guard Chris Paul — a past president of the National Basketball Players Association — and Lakers star LeBron James, also have said the NBA’s sanctions of Sarver did not go far enough.

Those statements from Paul and James came Wednesday, hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver detailed some of his reasons for deciding a suspension and fine were the proper sanctions. On Friday, Tremaglio told ESPN the union “absolutely” wants Sarver ousted from the league.