BREAKING: Owner Robert Sarver Has Begun Process To Sell The Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury Teams
Senior NBA Insider Shams Charania is reporting that Owner Robert Sarver has announced he has begun the process to sell both the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury franchises. The news comes after minority owner and vice chairman of the Phoenix Suns, Jahm Najafi, called for Sarver’s resignation. Najafi stated in an open letter to team employees that there should be a “zero tolerance” policy for lewd, misogynistic and racist conduct in any workplace. Najafi is the franchise’s second-largest stakeholder.
Sarver issued an official statement, which was posted by Lead Suns writer Gerald Bourguet. In the statement, Sarver says that he had hoped his suspension would be a sufficient enough time for him to focus, atone for his mistakes and have his personal conduct be forgiven.
“But in our current unforgiven 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 the things I have said in the past. For those reasons,” he continued, “I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury.”
Sarver added that he refuses to be a distraction for both the Suns and Mercury organizations.
The NBA issued a one-year suspension and $10 million fine to Sarver after its independent investigation discovered that he violated the NBA’s workplace standards. NBA Communications issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the investigation into the Suns. The league stated that it found that Sarver used the N-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others” during his tenure with both the Suns and Mercury franchises. The NBA also reportedly found instances of “inequitable conduct towards female employees,” including inappropriate comments regarding the appearances of employees and “sex-related comments.”
The investigation was reportedly led by Wachtell Lipton, a law firm based in New York. Sarver was accused of having “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and league policies.” Sarver issued a statement through the Suns organization, stating that he takes full responsibility for his actions despite not agreeing with parts of the league’s report.
Najafi has reportedly been very critical of Sarver since the allegations were first made public by ESPN back in November. In the open letter, Najafi said he felt that similar conduct done by any other CEO, president, teacher would never have been tolerated by other professional organizations.
“Similar conduct by any CEO, executive director, president, teacher, coach, or any other position of leadership would warrant immediate termination,” Najafi said. “The fact that Robert Sarver ‘owns’ the team does not give him a license to treat others differently than any other leader. The fact that anyone would find him fit to lead because of this ‘ownership’ position is forgetting that NBA teams belong to the communities they serve.”
Najafi continued on, questioning how anyone can expect a functional society “with integrity and respect” if sports leaders are not held to the same standard.
“Team investors are merely temporary stewards. If we, as sports leaders, are not held to the same standards then how can we expect a functional society with integrity and respect on any level? We owe it to you: employees, players, partners, and your families to provide the same positive workplace environment we would require of any other business.”
Najafi says that he cannot “in good judgment” sit back in silence, allowing their children and future generations of basketball fans to think that such conduct is tolerated because of “wealth and privilege.”
“Therefore, in accordance with my commitment to helping eradicate any form of racism, sexism and bias, as Vice Chairman of the Phoenix Suns, I am calling for the resignation of Robert Sarver.”