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22 Sep, 2022 13:02

NBA owner wants to sell up after racism scandal

Robert Sarver doesn't want to be a distraction to the Phoenix Suns
NBA owner wants to sell up after racism scandal

Suspended Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has publicly announced his intention to sell the NBA franchise.

In addition to being barred from all facilities in the NBA and its female counterpart the WNBA, where he also owns the Phoenix Mercury, Sarver was fined $10 million at the conclusion of an investigation into allegations of racist and sexist behavior. 

As communicated in a statement, he is looking to recoup that money and make a profit by selling the Suns and believes that the potential development “is the best course of action for everyone.”

Sarver bought the Suns for $401 million in 2004, although Forbes estimated that the franchise was valued at $1.8 billion at the start of last season.

“I do not want to be a distraction,” insisted Sarver. “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.”

“In our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past,” he added.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a separate statement that he “fully supported” Sarver’s intention to sell, which he claimed is “the right next step for the organization and community.”

The NBA interviewed 320 people and went over 80,000 documents and video clips after a November 2021 ESPN piece alleged that Sarver had exhibited racist and sexist behavior over the course of his 18-year reign as Suns owner. 

While the NBA’s investigation was unable to find that Sarver's conduct “was motivated by racial or gender-based animus,” it found evidence of “racially insensitive language, unequal treatment of female employees and sex-related statements and conduct”.

Sarver lamented that words he deeply regrets now “overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together.”

“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,” he added.

Rather than being given a pass, Sarver received pressure from within the Suns organization and the NBA following his suspension ruling last week, with the likes of Suns star Chris Paul and LA Lakers rival LeBron James leading calls for Sarver to receive a harsher penalty. 

“There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any workplace. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this ain't it. Our league definitely got this wrong,” tweeted James.

While NBA players union chief Tamika Tremaglio called for Sarver to be banned for life, Suns sponsor PayPal also said it wouldn’t renew its deal with the franchise if Sarver remained involved once his ban was up.

Though Sarver’s punishment is less severe than Donald Sterling’s after the former LA Clippers owner was banned for life for making racist remarks in a recording, Sarver is also effectively being ousted from the league by putting his team on the market.

News of the potential sale was music to the ears of James, who shared a tweet from a journalist reporting Sarver’s plans and wrote: “I'm so proud to be a part of a league committed to progress!”