In a perfect world, NBA owners would have taken matters into their own hands and voted to take down Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver.
But as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last week when addressing Sarver’s one-year suspension and $10 million fine for disgusting workplace behavior, the process of forcing Sarver to sell “is a very complicated process.” ”.
Among 29 other NBA owners, there was little appetite for a formal vote to start this process. “There was no discussion about the process of removing it,” acknowledged Silver.
Golden State’s Draymond Green said: “So what I would say is why don’t we do a vote?”
I understand Green’s point. He wants to know who is where. But there’s no reason – from the NBA’s perspective – to vote once the result is known.
OPINION: Robert Sarver’s NBA Plight Highlights the Ugly Side of Sports
STAY UPDATED: Subscribe to our Sports newsletter now!
The world is far from perfect and that extends to NBA ownership, where billionaires are usually not in the business of kicking other billionaires out of the club. Silver has been criticized for saying this, but getting rid of an owner is not like firing an employee who has engaged in similar behavior in the workplace. “It’s different from keeping a job. It simply is, when you actually have a team. It’s just a very different proposition,” Silver said.
It gets confused with lawsuits, counter-suits, discoveries, depositions. It can take years to resolve. It’s unpleasant, but it’s also reality, and as a commissioner, Silver operates within that boundary.
You might not like that part either, but there are other ways to force an owner out, and that’s what happened to Sarver, who on Wednesday announced he would begin the process of putting franchises up for sale.
Pressure to sell came from players, the media, fans, the National Basketball Players Association, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, and sponsors. The condemnation came day after day, including PayPal’s promise to end its sponsorship of the Suns if Sarver still owned the team within a year.
The disclosure of the investigation and Silver’s rebuke of Sarver’s actions helped steer the outcome in a specific direction.
Don’t forget, the NBA didn’t officially “force” Donald Sterling to sell when his racist comments became public in a leaked audio recording in 2014. In that case, the NBA was prepared to take those steps, and Silver had the votes then.
Obstinate at first, Sterling swore not to sell. But before it got to the point where the NBA owners voted, Sterling’s wife Shelly convinced her husband to sell.
What’s the point of sitting on the court and clapping and trying to be friends with the players when hardly anyone wants you there.
Even the most stubborn people recognize untenable situations, persona non grata.
This result was predictable.
The owner’s plan is in the public domain. Let others do the work.
This leaves the owners free, but makes the desired outcome less complicated for the league and its owners. (An aside: Sarver should not be the only one to leave. Any high-ranking Suns official who supported Sarver at the start of this investigation nearly a year ago and attacked the character of the ESPN reporter who wrote the initial story should reevaluate his position within the company. organization as well. The new ownership is likely to do this for them.)
Sarver will sell and get a huge return on your investment, which happens no matter when or how Sarver sells.
In the end – and there is room to criticize how the end justifies the means – there is one less owner in professional sport.
This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: NBA Owners Let the Public Pressure Robert Sarver to Sell Suns, Mercury