Skittish sponsors and angry players ratched up the pressure on Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and the NBA on Friday as players union chief Tamika Tremaglio called for him to be banned for life.
Sarver was fined $10 million and issued a one-year suspension by the NBA on Tuesday for racist and misogynist remarks within a harsh workplace environment that at times included bullying.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Suns point guard Chris Paul have voiced dismay that the sanctions fell short, and Tremaglio said in an interview on ESPN on Friday that she was speaking for players in calling for Sarver to be banned from the league for life.
"We are absolutely calling for that," Tremaglio said. "We do not want him to be in a position where he is managing or engaging with individuals who are engaging with our players or the players themselves. We are absolutely clear from the findings that are in the report that we do not want him to be in that position."
Tremaglio's remarks, which underscored comments she had made earlier, came after PayPal president Dan Schulman said Friday the company will not renew its sponsorship of the Suns if Sarver remains with the club after serving the one-year ban.
"We have reviewed the report of the NBA league's independent investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and have found his conduct unacceptable and in conflict with our values," Schulman said in a statement.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week he felt he could not remove Sarver as a team owner, a move made in 2014 against former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Schulman, however, said his company would not remain linked with the Suns if Sarver returns.
"PayPal's sponsorship with the Suns is set to expire at the end of the current season," Schulman said.
"In light of the findings of the NBA's investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship should Robert Sarver remain involved with the Suns organization after serving his suspension."
Schulman made it clear that PayPal, which has a jersey patch on the uniforms of Suns players, was open to returning if Sarver was no longer involved with the club.
"While we strongly reject the conduct of Robert Sarver, we remain supportive of the team, its players and the experienced and diverse talent now leading the organization," Schulman said.
The PayPal deal was worth $3 million to the Suns last season, ESPN reported.
PayPal's overall sponsorship deal expiring next year also includes other teams Sarver owns, the Women's NBA's Phoenix Mercury and Spanish football side Real Club Deportivo Mallorca of La Liga.
The PayPal threat follows a call by Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi, the second-largest shareholder in the Suns ownership group, for Sarver to resign.