Robert Sarver begins sale of Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury

Under mounting pressure from NBA players, sponsors and local government officials, and a year after he was suspended for using racist and misogynistic language, Robert Sarver announced Wednesday plans to sell the Phoenix Suns team and the WNBA’s Mercury team.

In a statement, the 60-year-old property developer said he didn’t want to be a “distraction” and he “wanted what’s best for the organization.”

“As a man of faith, I believe in the path of atonement and forgiveness. I hope the Commissioner’s one-year suspension will allow me time to focus, make amends for my personal controversies, and eradicate my personal and many fans’ favorite teams Controversy,” Sarver said. “But in our current relentless climate, it is painfully clear that this is no longer possible – whatever good I have done or can still do is overwhelmed by what I have said in the past. Mercury looking for a buyer.”

Adam Silver is the “good” commissioner. Why waste things defending bad guys?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sarver for one year and fined him up to $1,000 after a lengthy investigation into workplace conduct following an article last November. million dollar fine. Silver, however, did not issue a lifetime ban on Sarver, the commissioner’s punishment for racist remarks against former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014.

Prominent NBA stars such as LeBron James, Chris Paul and Draymond Green, as well as Tamika Tremaglio, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, condemned Sarver’s actions and Implying that the penalty against Silver was not enough, and PayPal said it would not renew the contract. If Sarver stays with the team he has had since 2004, he will become the Suns’ jersey sponsor after this season. Al Sharpton called for Sarver’s resignation, while Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and city council members issued a statement saying they were “appalled” by his actions and planned to conduct their own investigation.

With the 2022-23 season set to kick off next month, team media days are scheduled to begin on Sunday, Given Sarver’s initial vehement denial of’s allegations and his reputation for stubbornness, his decision to sell the Suns has been softened across the league. Despite his apology following Silver’s suspension, Sarver disputed some of the report’s findings, and his legal representatives continued to quibble at some of the allegations. The fear is that Sarver will be as deeply involved as Sterling, creating a protracted power struggle for the Suns’ future and an untenable day-to-day presence.

“I fully support Robert Sarver’s decision to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Silver said in a statement Wednesday. “This is the right next step for the organization and the community.”

Silver pointed out last week that he, as commissioner, does not have the authority to unilaterally take the Suns from Sarver. Instead, the NBA’s board of directors would need to reject Sarver by a three-quarters majority, a difficult and time-consuming proposition that could trigger Sarver’s lawsuit. However, Sarver was widely criticized and outraged by the NBA’s decision to publicly release the investigators’ report. In the past, similar investigative reports have been summarized by the coalition rather than fully public.

“I’m proud to be part of a league committed to progress,” James tweeted Wednesday.

“We thank Mr. Sarver for making a swift decision that was in the best interests of our sports community,” NBPA Chairman CJ McCollum said in a statement.

Investigators at the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz documented a lengthy list of workplace misconduct violations in a 43-page report, including at least five examples of Sarver’s use of the n-word, repeated sexist behavior and multiple incidents in which Sarver exposed himself to employees.

According to witnesses, Sarver used it when recruiting for free agency in 2004, during team-building activities in 2012 or 2013, after the October 2016 game against the Golden State Warriors, and when retelling stories about players’ families. n words. Said when boarding the team’s plane. According to two witnesses, Sarver quoted his family as saying: “White people on the front lines, [n-words] behind. Investigators found that Sarver, who is white, continued to use the slur for years, despite repeated warnings from colleagues that it was inappropriate.

Sarver’s violations against female employees included telling one person she had to stop a task because her kids “need their moms, not their dads,” and asking another if she’d gotten an “upgrade” — a euphemism for breast implants ​​​​—and told another that she “never saw anything this big” when he was getting ready to shower in the team’s facility. In another incident, he berated a female employee for her performance in 2011, protesting when she started crying, and then held a lunch for four female employees, which attendees saw as a way to make them stronger .

Investigators blamed some of Sarver’s actions on his “childish and inappropriate” sense of humor and “lack of filters,” but they documented multiple incidents that crossed the line into harassment. Sarver “unnecessarily dropped his underwear” during a “fitness check” by a male employee who was kneeling in front of him, exposing himself. Sarver also danced “pelvis to pelvis” with a male employee at holiday parties, pulled down a male employee’s pants in front of colleagues at a charity event in 2014, and asked who on the 2009-10 team At least one player has questions about personal grooming habits.

Under the terms of his suspension, Sarver is banned from all NBA and WNBA games and team facilities, he cannot appear at public events on behalf of the Suns or the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, and he cannot participate in his organization’s business operations or league meetings . Longtime Suns minority owner Sam Garvin temporarily replaced Sarver.

“The racist Old Boys Club in professional sports is officially closed,” Sharpton said in a statement. “A new era is coming, and seeing black players love property is intolerable. Sarver’s decision today is the first step on a long road to justice for the Suns and Mercury — staff, players and fans — alike Now, the NBA, teams, corporate sponsors and new owners, whoever they are, must live up to their commitment to rooting out racism, misogyny and hatred.”

Throughout his tenure, Sarver has been known for being a frugal — and sometimes combative — owner, having been in the 2005 and 2006 Western Conference finals after the “seven seconds or less” Suns reached the Western Conference finals. Try to put the winning team on the field. From 2011 to 2020, Phoenix missed the playoffs for 10 straight seasons as Sarver rotated coaches, hired and fired executives and went out multiple times in the NBA draft. During a particularly tumultuous period, Sarver fired coach Earl Watson after just three games in the 2017-2018 season and then fired his full-time replacement, Igor Kokoskov, a season later. .

A lot of misfortune happened along the way. In 2014, Sarver apologized to Suns fans after the San Antonio Spurs chose to rest several stars during a game in Phoenix. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich bluntly replied that Sarver should be wearing a “chicken suit” during his speech. 2017, Suns guard Eric Bledsoe famously tweeted “I don’t want to be here,” he later claimed in the trade request, referring to his boredom at the hair salon. Then, in 2019, Sarver reportedly placed live goats in his general manager’s office, apparently as an incentive tactic.

But the arrival of head coaches Monty Williams and Paul in recent years has put the Suns back in the playoffs and on the national stage. Phoenix, reaching the 2021 Finals for the first time since 1993, won a franchise-record 64 games last season, despite an ongoing investigation into Sarver. With a talented lineup built around Paul, All-Star guard Devin Booker, forward Mikal Bridges and center DeAndre Ayton, the Suns entered the upcoming season as one of the most popular teams in the West. coming season.

A group led by Sarver bought the Suns for about $400 million in 2004, and Forbes recently estimated the team is now worth more than $1.8 billion. The Suns could sell for a valuation in excess of $2 billion, as the value of NBA franchises has grown significantly in recent years and a new national media rights deal is on the horizon. After the Clippers sold for $2 billion in 2014, the Houston Rockets sold for $2.2 billion in 2017, and the Brooklyn Nets sold Barclays Center for $3.3 billion in 2019. Since 2020, franchises in smaller markets like the Utah Jazz ($1.6 billion) and Minnesota Timberwolves ($1.5 billion) have generated big returns for their longtime owners.

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