Robert Sarver announces plans to sell the Phoenix Suns of the NBA and Mercury of the WNBA amid controversy

One week after the NBA imposed a One-year suspension and $10 million fine against Robert SarverOn Wednesday, the embattled owner announced plans to sell Phoenix Suns and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury.

“I am beginning the process of finding buyers for Sun and Mercury vehicles,” Sarver said in a statement.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a two-sentence statement later Tuesday saying he fully supported the decision.

“This is the right next step for the organization and society,” he said.

National Basketball Players Association president C.J. McCollum was similarly short, but content.

“We thank Mr. Sarver for making a quick decision that was in the best interest of our sporting community.”

The The Suns themselves issued a statement On behalf of the team management to support the pending sale.

“We agree that Robert Sarver’s decision to sell the Suns and Mercury is in the best interests of the organization and the community,” the statement read.

The NBA released last week 43-page report Based on Investigation conducted by an independent law firm for 10 months In allegations of racism, misogyny and other misconduct in the workplace against Sarver. Among its most damning findings from 320 interviews and a review of more than 80,000 documents, the evidence was that Sarver “said the N-word at least five times in repetition or claim to repeat what a black person said,” despite multiple warnings that he “could Never say the N word, even when quoting someone else.

The investigation revealed an extensive list of cases in which Sarver was found to harass male and female employees. In one example, according to the report, he threatened the role of a pregnant employee because her child “needs her mother, not her father,” then called a lawyer who told the woman that Sarver “did nothing wrong.” On another occasion, the report said, he “exposed his genitals to an employee who was on his knees”. The investigation detailed dozens of other crimes.

Immediately following his suspension and payment of the fine, Sarver said in a statement last week, “While I do not agree with some of the details of the NBA report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that offended our staff. I am responsible for what I did. I am sorry for causing this pain, and these mistakes in Judgment is inconsistent with my personal philosophy or with my values.”

“I accept the consequences of the NBA’s decision,” he added, vowing to “learn and grow” in his absence.

Given the volume of accusations and evidence, the NBA was heavily criticized for not banning Sarver for life, as was done in light of then-Los Angeles. clippers her Donald Sterling’s racist comments in 2014.

The NBPA has been among the league’s harshest critics. In an appearance on ESPN’s “NBA Today”, Tamika Trimaglio, CEO of the NBPA, has called for a lifetime ban last Friday.

“I’m speaking on behalf of our players. We want to make it clear that we don’t want him again in a position where he will affect our players and those who serve our players on a daily basis,” she said.

similarly, Los Angeles Lakers Superstar LeBron James Tweet last week“There is no place in this league for this kind of behaviour. I love the league and deeply respect our leadership. But it is not true.”

Chris Paul, Suns star and former NBPA president, who also played with the Clippers in 2014, said:I think the penalties were not enough In addressing what we can all agree on was terrible behaviour.”

In the days since the NBA released its report, Jahm Najafi, Suns’ second largest shareholder, has called for Sarver’s resignation. “I have no interest in becoming the managing partner,” Al-Nujaifi said in his statement.

Longtime sponsor PayPal said last week that it would not renew its deal With both franchises Phoenix if Sarver returns to his position after suspension. The company’s contract, which includes a patch for its logo on Suns jerseys for $3 million a year, expires at the end of next season.

Silver held a press conference last week, and like the investigation, He stopped short of calling Sarver’s behavior racist, sexist or misogynistic. Silver also noted that the reason Sarver was not banned for life is that “there are certain rights here for someone who owns an NBA team rather than someone who is an employee.” Specifically, the league requires a three-quarter vote among team owners to remove a peer. The NBA has not held such a vote.

As a result, Sarver’s announcement of his intention to sell the team came as a surprise.

As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. A controversy from the teams that I and many fans loved.

“But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that this is no longer possible – anything good that I have done, or can still do, is outweighed by the things I have said in the past. For these reasons, I am beginning the process of finding buyers for Suns and Mercury.

“I don’t want to be a distraction to these two amazing teams and people who are working so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world. I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the staff, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA. This is the best course of action. work for all.”

The NBA investigation detailed cases of Sarver’s misconduct, both verbal and physical, throughout his tenure as owner. Evidence ranged from 2004, when the team bought and allegedly said the N-word during a free agent recruitment offer, to as recently as 2021, when ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reveals toxic conditions Sarver “makes crude references to sex” during a meeting that offended staff.

Forbes included a $1.8 billion valuation of the Suns Sun in October 2021. According to HolmesSarver owns approximately a third of the franchise and can allow the entire team to be sold as a managing partner.

Phoenix Suns owner and Mercury owner Robert Sarver have announced plans to sell both franchises.  (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns owner and Mercury owner Robert Sarver have announced plans to sell both franchises. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Ben Rohrbach Writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have a tip? Email him to or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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