Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver was just hit with a massive penalty after an extensive investigation into alleged workplace misconduct ... getting banned from the league for one season and forced to pay a $10 million fine.
The NBA released the findings of its investigation after interviewing 320 current and former Suns employees ... and determined Sarver said the n-word at least five times "when recounting the statements of others."
It's worth noting -- the league says Sarver's use of the n-word was not motivated by racial hate or prejudice.
The league also concluded Sarver did not treat female employees equally and made inappropriate comments about their appearance.
The NBA also states Sarver engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.
"The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing," NBA commish Adam Silversaid in a statement. "We believe the outcome is the right one, taking into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to upholding proper standards in NBA workplaces."
"I am hopeful that the NBA community will use this opportunity to reflect on what this great game means to people everywhere and the values of equality, respect and inclusion that it strives to represent. Regardless of position, power or intent, we all need to recognize the corrosive and hurtful impact of racially insensitive and demeaning language and behavior."
"On behalf of the entire NBA, I apologize to all of those impacted by the misconduct outlined in the investigators’ report. We must do better."
During Sarver's suspension, he must complete a workplace conduct course. He will not have any access to the team or its facilities during the ban.
FYI -- the $10 million fine is the absolute most the NBA is allowed to hand down.
The Suns will now have to hire an outside firm to advise on issues like workplace training, hiring and compensation.
Sarver is a real estate development mogul ... and bought the team in 2004 for $401 million.