Robert Sarver‘s tenure as governor of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury is soon to be over as he announced on Wednesday (September 21) plans to sell both franchises.
“As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness,” Sarver said in a statement. “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.”
Sarver, who owns one-third of the Suns, was suspended for one year and fined $10 million after a probe into a toxic workplace culture within the Suns found several instances of him using the N-word and sexually harassing employees.
“Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together — and strengthened the Phoenix area — through the unifying power of professional men’s and women’s basketball,” Sarver wrote in his statement.
An ESPN article in November 2021 detailed allegations of Sarver for several misogynistic and racist comments and incidents throughout his 17 years as owner. After the NBA announced Sarver’s suspension, several key figures in the NBA, including LeBron James and Draymond Green, called for Sarver’s ouster. PayPal, the biggest sponsor of the Suns, announced they would not renew their partnership with the team if Sarver remained the other.
The most damaging statement came from Jahm Najafi, the Suns minority owner and the team’s second-largest stockholder, who called for Sarver’s resignation.
“Similar conduct by any CEO, executive director, president, teacher, coach, or any other position of leadership would warrant immediate termination,” Najafi wrote in a letter on September 15. “The fact that Robert Sarver ‘owns’ the team does not give him a license to treat others differently than any other leader. The fact that anyone would find him fit to lead because of this ‘ownership’ position is forgetting that NBA teams belong to the communities they serve.”
Sarver concluded his statement by wishing to no longer be a distraction to both organizations.
“I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world,” Sarver said in his statement. “I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the employees, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.
“In the meantime, I will continue to work on becoming a better person, and continuing to support the community in meaningful ways.”