Suns' Robert Sarver Denies Alleged Wrongdoing Detailed in Forthcoming ESPN Story

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVOctober 22, 2021

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 08: Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns attends the NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Phoenix Suns Arena on February 08, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Phoenix Suns released a statement Friday calling allegations made in a forthcoming ESPN story "completely baseless." 

Phoenix Suns @Suns

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Reporter Jordan Schultz tweeted Sarver is being accused of "racism, sexism and sexual harassment in a series of incidents." No further details on the story have been made public.

Sarver's full statement calls the allegations "completely repugnant" and says he rejects "any insinuation of personal or organizational racism or gender discrimination":

"While I can’t begin to know how to respond to some of the vague suggestions made by mostly anonymous voices, I can certainly tell you that some of the claims I find completely repugnant to my nature and to the character of the Suns/Mercury workplace and I can tell you they never, ever happened.

“First and foremost, I reject any insinuation of personal or organizational racism or gender discrimination. I despise language that disrespects any individuals, regardless of race, gender, preference, or choice. Such language has no place in business or at home in what I consider Suns and Mercury families. I am proud of our record of diversity and inclusion on both teams—whether on the court or in the front office.

“I don’t begin to know how to prove that something DIDN’T happen, and it is difficult to erase or forget ugly accusations once they are made. Even hints of racism or sexism in our culture today are toxic and damaging and should not be lightly raised.  I categorically deny any and all suggestions that I used disparaging language related to race or gender.  I would like to think that my actions and public record regarding race, gender, or discrimination of any kind, over a lifetime in business and community service, will adequately answer any questions anyone might raise about my commitment to equality and fairness.”

Suns general manager James Jones also released a statement of support for Sarver. 

Former Los Angeles Clippers governor Donald Sterling was banned for life by the NBA in 2014 after racist comments he made with his mistress were leaked to the public. Sterling was forced to sell the franchise, with Steve Ballmer paying an NBA record $2 billion in the sale.

Schultz's report indicated the allegations could have a similar impact for Sarver, who bought the Suns in 2004. His ownership has been fraught with displeasure from fans, many of whom have accused Sarver of prioritizing finances over winning basketball games.