Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver is selling both teams.
In a statement that was both regretful and aggrieved in tone, Sarver said he thought his 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 the long term, he said he would be a distraction to both teams in the “current unforgiving climate.”
- A league-commissioned investigation found that Sarver regularly used “racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”
- The league suspended Sarver and fined him $10 million following the release of the report.
Sarver purchased the Suns in 2004 for $401 million. The team was valued at $1.8 billion by Forbes last year.
Sarver faced calls to sell the teams or otherwise be removed from the NBA by the team’s vice chairman Jahm Najafi, LeBron James, Suns star Chris Paul, Draymond Green, and NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio, all of whom felt the league’s punishment was too light.
PayPal, the Suns jersey patch sponsor, said it would not continue its relationship with the team if Sarver remained in place following his suspension.
League commissioner Adam Silver said previously that he doesn’t “have the right to take away his team,” noting that the report found that Sarver’s behavior was not driven “by racial or gender-based animus.”