Robert Sarver says he plans to sell the Phoenix Suns, Mercury
Robert Sarver, the embattled owner of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, announced Wednesday that he’s looking for someone to buy the teams.
The statement from Sarver, released around 9:15 a.m. Arizona time, said he had hoped the one-year suspension and fine the NBA issued last week "would provide the time for [him] to focus, make amends and remove [his] personal controversy from the teams … "
"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," Sarver said.
Forbes magazine values the organization at nearly $2 billion.
Calls for Sarver to step down came from a co-owner, a key corporate sponsor and the NBA players union.
The calls followed an investigation of Sarver, which found that he repeatedly used a racist slur, treated women unequally and bullied staff in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies."
The findings of the league's report, published Sept. 13, came nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents over his nearly two-decade tenure overseeing the franchise. The document described Sarver’s sense of humor as sophomoric and said he acted as if workplace norms did not apply to him. But it also found that Sarver’s behavior was not due to racial or gender-based hostility.
Suns Legacy Partners LLC, the sports and entertainment entity that manages and operates the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, issued an official statement on Wednesday:
We agree that Robert Sarver’s decision to sell the Suns and Mercury is in the best interest of the organization and community.
We also know that today’s news does not change the work that remains in front of us to create, maintain and protect a best-in-class experience for our staff, players, fans, partners and community.
As we’ve shared with our employees, we acknowledge the courage of the people who came forward in this process to tell their stories and apologize to those hurt.
We are on a journey that began before last November, one that has included changes to leadership, staff and accountability measures. While we are proud of our progress and the culture of respect and integrity we are building, we know there remains work to do and relationships to rebuild. We are committed to doing so for our staff, players, fans, partners and this community.
Associated Press contributed to this report.