Robert Sarver, majority owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WBA’s Phoenix Mercury, said on Wednesday he would sell both teams after a one-year suspension from the league for creating a hostile work environment that included racist and sexist allegations.
In a written statement, Sarver announced that he was beginning the buyer search process for the Suns and Mercury: “Words 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 men’s and women’s professional basketball. As a man of faith, I believe in the atonement and the path to forgiveness. I was hoping that the commissioner’s one-year suspension would give me time 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 this is no longer possible – that any good I have done, or can still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past. For these reasons, I am beginning the buyer search process for the Suns and Mercury.” He continued: “I don’t want to be a distraction to these two teams and the people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans all over the world. I want the 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 September 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 abuse and included interviews with 70 former and current Suns employees who said Sarver created a “toxic and sometimes hostile workplace” over the course of his years. 17 years as the team’s owner and included accusations of racism and sexism.
Sarver said he believed an “unrelenting climate” would not allow him to continue as owner after his suspension ended: “In the meantime, I will continue to work to become a better person and continue to support the community in meaningful ways. Thank you for continuing to root for the Suns and Mercury, embracing the power that sport has to bring us together.”
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