Suns, Mercury Governors Support Robert Sarver's Decision to Sell Teams

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 21, 2022

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Suns Legacy Partners, which manages the NBA's Phoenix Suns and the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, released a statement Wednesday supporting Robert Sarver's decision to sell the two franchises.

"We agree that Robert Sarver's decision to sell the Suns and Mercury is in the best interest of the organization and community," the statement said while also acknowledging there is much work to be done.

Phoenix Suns @Suns

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Phoenix Mercury @PhoenixMercury

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Sarver released a statement Wednesday that blamed "our current unforgiving climate" for his decision to ultimately sell the Suns and Mercury:

"As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected that the commissioner's one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love.

"But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible—that whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past. For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement saying, "I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. This is the right next step for the organization and community."

Portland Trail Blazers guard and president of the NBPA CJ McCollum also released a statement that said, "We thank Mr. Sarver for making a swift decision that was in the best interest of our sports community."

The NBA commissioned an independent investigation after ESPN's Baxter Holmes published a report in Nov. 2021 on allegations of racist and sexist behavior by Sarver.

The league announced the findings on Sept. 13 and decided to suspend Sarver for one year and fine him $10 million—a lighter punishment than the 2014 decision to ban former Los Angeles Clippers governor Donald Sterling, who was recorded making racist comments about Black people, from the league for life.

The investigation into Sarver found he "engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards" that "included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying."

Among the findings were revelations that he used the N-word "on at least five occasions" and "engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees, including by yelling and cursing at them."

Many believed the NBA's punishment didn't go far enough.

Jahm Najafi, who is the second-largest Suns stakeholder, called for Sarver's resignation. NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said he "should never hold a managerial position within our league again," while players such as LeBron James and Chris Paul weighed in as well:

Mike Vigil @protectedpick

Jahm Najafi, the second largest Suns stakeholder, has publicly called for the resignation of Robert Sarver in an open letter to Suns fans. <a href="https://t.co/z7dMzUyHSP">pic.twitter.com/z7dMzUyHSP</a>

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpears

Statement from Tamika Tremaglio, Executive Director of <a href="https://twitter.com/TheNBPA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheNBPA</a>, about the "horrible" conduct from Suns owner Robert Sarver to <a href="https://twitter.com/andscape?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@andscape</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/espn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@espn</a> who she believes "should never hold a managerial position within our league again." <a href="https://t.co/q4uEU7Ke6h">pic.twitter.com/q4uEU7Ke6h</a>

LeBron James @KingJames

behavior. I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership. But this isn’t right. There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don’t matter if you own the team or play for the team. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this aint it.

Chris Paul @CP3

I am of the view that the sanctions fell short in truly addressing what we can all agree was atrocious behavior. My heart goes out to all of the people that were affected.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported there was no shortage of pressure applied on Sarver to sell the teams.

"There was a lot of private pressure on Robert Sarver behind the scenes," Shelburne reported. "We heard PayPal, but there were a lot of other league sponsors and team sponsors that were lining up to pull away from the Suns and not be publicly associated with them.

"There was also the pressure applied by other owners and Adam Silver behind the scenes. Adam Silver is obviously very good at applying pressure when needed to be and facilitating these types of conversations and discussions to get to this place."


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