Owner Robert Sarver announced Wednesday that he has begun the process of selling both the Phoenix Suns of the NBA and WNBA Phoenix Mercury privileges.
“As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness,” Sarver said in a statement Wednesday. “I was expecting the commissioner’s one-year suspension to allow me time to focus, compensate, and remove personal controversy from the teams I love and many of my fans.
“But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that no longer is possible – anything good 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”.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he “fully supported” Sarver’s decision to sell the teams.
“This is the right next step for the organization and the community,” Silver said.
Sarver was suspended for a year and fined $10 million last week after an NBA investigation found he used the N-word at least five times “when recounting other people’s sayings.”
Sarver has also been involved in “cases of unfair behavior towards female employees,” including “gender-related comments” and inappropriate comments about female employees’ appearance.
“Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that have brought people together – and strengthened the Phoenix area – through the unifying strength of men’s and women’s professional basketball,” Sarver wrote in his statement.
Surfer bought the teams in July 2004 for about $400 million. With approximately a third of the stake, he is not the only owner, but the primary owner. Forbes recently estimated the value of The Suns at $1.8 billion.
Although Sarver does not fully own Suns, sources told ESPN that he has the authority, as a managing partner, to sell the entire team. One source added that a new owner or a new ownership group could request that a member or members of the existing ownership group remain on board, but this is not yet clear.
The National Basketball Association commissioned an investigation following an ESPN story in November 2021 detailing allegations of racism and misogyny during Sarver’s 17 years as an owner.
“I am pleased to know that while at first Robert did not really feel remorse for his actions, I am pleased to know that he was able to put the organization and the city before his own needs and desires to step aside so that we could begin to move forward without the hurt and anguish that It was related to his leadership,” a current Suns employee told ESPN.
Another employee involved in the investigation said, “I’m relieved, I’m very happy, I’m empowered and I’m excited to continue making sure that all the men in that organization who are still in power who support this culture are uprooted.”
“I am so proud to be part of a league committed to progress!” James tweeted Wednesday.
I am so proud to be a part of a league committed to progress!
– LeBron James (@KingJames) September 21, 2022
NBPA head has been added CJ McCollum“We thank Mr. Sarver for making a quick decision that was in the best interest of our sporting community.”
PayPal, the Suns shirt patch sponsor, has threatened not to renew their partnership with the team if Sarver remains an owner. Minority owner Jahm Najafi, the minority owner of SNES, the team’s second-largest shareholder, called Sarver to resign.
“I don’t want to be a distraction to these two teams and the kind people who are working 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 staff, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the National Basketball Association and the NBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.”
“In the meantime, I will continue to work on becoming a better person, and continue to support the community in beneficial ways.”
Reverend Al Sharpton, who has called for the NBA to remove Sarver as owner, released a statement Wednesday saying that Sarver’s decision to sell the teams was just a “first step in the long road to justice” and that the NBA still had some “self-searching” to do. .
“The Racist Boys Club in Professional Sports is officially closed,” Sharpton said in his statement. “A new era has come in which it is not acceptable to view black players as property. … It is now imperative that the NBA, both teams, the corporate sponsors, and the new owner, whoever it is, follow through on the commitment to root out racism, misogyny and hate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.