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Robert Sarver Announces He Will Sell The Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury

·3 min read

Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver announced he will sell the teams amid growing backlash to what many considered a light punishment for his actions.

ESPN reports Sarver made the announcement in a statement Wednesday a week after he was fined $10 million and suspended for the 2022-23 NBA and WNBA season after an investigation found Sarber used the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others and was involved in “instances of inequitable conduct towards female employees” including “sex-related comments” and inappropriate comments on employees’ appearances.

“As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness,” Sarver said in a statement Wednesday. “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 bought the two teams in July 2004 for $400 million, while Sarver is not the lone owner but the majority owner. The two teams were recently valued by Forbes at $1.8 billion but Sarver is likely to get more for the franchises. The last NBA team to be sold was the Brooklyn Nets, which Joe Tsai bought in 2019 for $2.35 billion.

According to Sports Illustrated, Sarver was again criticized in NBA and WNBA circles for his attempt to paint himself as a victim in his statement announcing he would sell the team.

Those who came out and publicly criticized the NBA for its light treatment of Sarver include Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul and Rev. Al Sharpton, who called for Sarver’s immediate removal.

“I gotta be honest…Our league definitely got this wrong,” James said. “I don’t need to explain why. Y’all read the stories and decide for yourself. I said it before and I’m gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for that kind of 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 ain’t it.”

Many who criticized Sarver’s punishment brought up Donald Sterling, the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was forced to sell the team after racist comments he made about Black men. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said when he announced Sarver’s suspension and fine that this situation was different and he did not have the authority to force Sarver to sell the team.

Rev. Al Sharpton also praised Sarver’s dismissal.

“The racist old boys’ club in professional sports is officially closed,” he said in a statement, in part, via Sports Illustrated’s Howard Beck.

“A new era is upon us where it is intolerable to view Black players like property. Sarver’s decision today is the first step in the long road toward justice for the Suns and Mercury — the staff, the players and the fans.

“It is now imperative that the NBA, both teams, the corporate sponsors and the new owner, whomever they may be, follow through on the commitment to root out racism, misogyny and hate. The NBA’s actions over the last week also make it apparent that the league must also do some soul searching.”