It’s not a shock because the situation has become untenable.
The blowback from the fans was just too great.
Now an NBA owner is cashing out after receiving a suspension over allegedly making racist remarks.
Robert Sarver has started the process of selling the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.
This happened just eight days after he was suspended by the NBA over workplace misconduct including racist speech and hostile behavior toward employees.
Sarver says that selling “is the best course of action,” even though he had hoped he could keep control of the franchises.
He says his record shows a dramatically different picture of who he is and what he stands for.
In a statement, Sarver wrote, “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.”
This would mark the first sale in the NBA since a group led by Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith bought the Utah Jazz in 2021 for about $1.7 billion.
This all comes after an independent report that took 10 months to finish found that Sarver “repeated or purported to repeat the N-word on at least five occasions spanning his tenure with the Suns,” though added that the investigation “makes no finding that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with the intent to demean or denigrate.”
The report further found that Sarver used demeaning language toward female employees, including telling a pregnant employee that she would not be able to do her job after becoming a mother, made off-color comments and jokes about sex and anatomy, and yelled and cursed at employees in ways that would be considered bullying “under workplace standards.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million — the maximum allowed by league rule.
Sarver wrote, “Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together — and strengthened the Phoenix area — through the unifying power of professional men’s and women’s basketball. 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.”
A week later it became obvious that wasn’t to be.
The decision came after multiple athletes and the National Basketball Players Association said the one-year suspension wasn’t enough.
Sarver wrote, “I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world. I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the employees, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.”
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.