It's either a loaded message against a man who is now one of the NBA's most controversial owners, or a night out on the town with a business partner.
Jahm Najafi, a Phoenix-based businessman and minority owner of the Phoenix Suns, attended Saturday's game against the Atlanta Hawks with Colin Kaepernick, with whom he co-chairs special purpose acquisition company Mission Advancement Corps.
The pair's appearance occurs as Suns majority owner Robert Sarver is under NBA investigation for allegations of racism and misogyny during his tenure.
— Cody Phillips (@CodyAPhillips) November 7, 2021
In an explosive report from ESPN, Sarver was accused of a "toxic and sometimes hostile workplace" in his 17 years of owning the team. More than 70 current and former Suns employees, ex-Suns head coach Earl Watson among them, spoke with ESPN, painting a picture overall of Sarver using racially insensitive language, discussing sexually explicit activities and frequently going on verbal tirades.
Longtime NBA star Vince Carter later added to the allegations, accusing Sarver of telling Suns players to "take him out."
Najafi called Sarver's alleged conduct 'unacceptable'
Even before ESPN published its article, the Suns' reaction was fierce. Sarver released a lengthy statement describing the stories as "false reporting," while the Suns and Phoenix Mercury, which Sarver also owns, released pre-emptive statements calling the claims "completely baseless."
Even more statements of support for Sarver came from general manager James Jones, team president Jason Rowley, as well as one signed by a collection of Suns minority owners, including Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald.
One minority owner who did not sign the statement was, predictably, Najafi, who instead released a statement calling Sarver's alleged conduct "unacceptable."
"I have been made aware of the allegations against Robert Sarver, the managing partner who runs the Phoenix Suns. The conduct he is alleged to have committed has stunned and saddened me and is unacceptable. The well-being and safety of every Suns employee, player, coach and stakeholder is first and foremost our priority. My sincerest sympathy goes out to all whose lives and professions have been impacted. I am personally committed to helping eradicate any form of racism, sexism, and bias, which is unacceptable anywhere in our society. I have partnered with the NBA Foundation to underscore this commitment. The Phoenix Suns is a national treasure that belongs to all of us as fans and residents of our community. Team investors are simply temporary stewards of this treasure. It is our job as stewards to ensure everyone is treated respectfully and equally. Although today’s revelations fall under the jurisdiction of the League which decides and takes any action based on its finding, I offer my support to ensure there is full accountability."
And now, with Sarver's NBA future still potentially tenuous, Najafi is making a public appearance in their team's building with one of the loudest voices for racial justice in sports.