Robert Sarver, the majority owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WBA’s Phoenix Mercury, said on Wednesday that he would be selling both teams, following a one-year suspension by the league for creating a hostile work environment that included racist and sexist allegations.
In a written statement, Sarver announced he was beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury: “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. 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 continued: “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.”
The NBA suspended Sarver on Sept. 13 and fined him $10 million after conducting an independent investigation into racist and sexist conduct. The investigation came after an ESPN article last year highlighted workplace abuses, and included interviews with 70 former and current Suns employees who said Sarver created a “toxic and sometimes hostile workplace” over his 17 years owning the team and included charges of racism and sexism.
Sarver said he believed an “unforgiving climate” would not allow him to continue as the owner once his suspension was over: “In the meantime, I will continue to work on becoming a better person, and continuing to support the community in meaningful ways. Thank you for continuing to root for the Suns and the Mercury, embracing the power that sports has to bring us together.”
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