Robert Sarver has announced plans to sell his two Phoenix-based basketball teams, the NBA’s Suns and Mercury.
“I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury,” Sarver said in a statement on Wednesday.
Following an inquiry into claims of racism and sexism while serving as the owner of the Suns and Mercury, the NBA last Thursday fined Sarver $10 million and suspended him for a year. Many NBA players, including well-known athletes like LeBron James and Chris Paul, did not think the punishment was severe enough. When the sentence was issued, James posted on Twitter, saying, “Our league clearly got this wrong.” “I adore our league and have the utmost regard for our executive team. But this is wrong. Racism, sexism, and misogyny have no place in the workplace.
Jahm Najafi, the Suns’ vice chairman, and PayPal, a team sponsor, both recommended that Sarver sell the organization.
Last November, an ESPN article that was subsequently confirmed by an NBA investigation discovered that Sarver had used the N-word five times while paraphrasing the statements of others. This is when Sarver’s problems started. In addition, the study found that Sarver made offensive remarks about sex and anatomy, made sexist remarks toward female employees, including telling a pregnant worker that she wouldn’t be able to perform her job once she gave birth, and yelled and cursed at workers in ways that would be regarded as bullying “under workplace standards”. Sarver did not use “racially offensive language with the purpose to humiliate or disparage,” according to the report.
Sarver’s situation has been compared to that of former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. After recordings of Sterling uttering racial slurs surfaced in 2014, NBA commissioner Adam Silver essentially forced the sale of the franchise by banning Sterling for life from the league.