Robert Sarver seeks to sell the Suns and Mercury, blames ‘unforgiving climate’

Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

With pressure mounting and sponsors beginning to flee, Robert Sarver has announced he will sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury.

It seemed Robert Sarver had gotten off light. After a nearly year-long investigation that included over 300 interviews and a review of more than 800,000 documents, the NBA concluded the Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner:

  • “Repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others,” on at least five occasions.
  • “Engaged in instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees, made many sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women, and on several occasions engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.”
  • “Engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees, including by yelling and cursing at them.”

For that, he was given a $10 million fine and a one-year suspension, during which he was supposed to complete a training program and respectful conduct in the workplace.

That decision was immediately met by condemnation from players like LeBron James and Draymond Green, people who had been interviewed for the investigation, the team’s minority owner and countless fans and media members. However, the most important condemnation may have come from team sponsor PayPal who announced they would not renew their partnership with the Suns when it expired at the end of this season if Sarver was still team owner.

With a major sponsor jumping ship, the writing was on the wall and today Sarver announced he had begun the process of putting both teams up for sale.

Who did Robert Sarver blame for his situation?

In his statement, Sarver said:

"“As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. 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.”"

He doesn’t say the words “cancel culture” but you can read through the lines. If only our society was more willing to forgive years of racist, sexist and abusive behavior he wouldn’t be in the predicament of being forced to sell an asset he bought for $400 million that is currently valued at nearly $2 billion.

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