“As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected the commissioner’s one-year suspension to allow me time to focus, make up and remove personal controversy from the teams I love and many fans,” Sarver said. “But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that this is no longer possible – anything good that I have done, or can still do, is outweighed by the things I have said in the past. For these reasons, I begin the process of finding buyers for Sauns and Mercury. “.
Adam Silver was the “good” commissioner. Why waste this defense of the bad guys?
NBA commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sarver for a year and fined him a maximum of $10 million last week after completing a lengthy workplace conduct investigation that began following an article on ESPN.com in November. However, Silver stopped short of issuing a lifetime ban on Sarver, the punishment the former commissioner imposed on former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014 for his racist comments.
Notable NBA stars such as LeBron James, Chris Paul and Draymond Green, as well as National Basketball Players Association executive director Tamika Trimaglio, denounced Sarver’s behavior and suggested Silver’s punishment was not enough, and PayPal said it would not renew her contract. As the Suns shirt sponsor after this season if Sarver remains with the team he has owned since 2004. Minority owner Suns Jahm Najafi and civil rights activists such as Reverend Al Sharpton called for Sarver to resign, while Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and the city and council members issued a statement saying they ” appalled” by his behavior and that they intend to conduct their own investigation.
With the 2022-23 season kicking off next month, and the team’s media days set to begin on Sunday, Sarver’s decision to pursue the sale of The Suns was met with widespread relief due to his strong initial denial of the ESPN.com allegations and his reputation for stubbornness. Although he issued an apology after Silver suspended him, Sarver disputed some of the report’s findings, and his legal representatives continued to argue over some of the allegations. Some observers feared that Sarver would dig, like Sterling, creating a long-running power struggle for the Suns’ future and untenable daily existence.
“I fully support Robert Sarver’s decision to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Silver said in a statement on Wednesday. “This is the right next step for the organization and society.”
Silver indicated last week that he does not have the authority as a commissioner to take the Suns out of Sarver unilaterally. Instead, the NBA Board of Governors had to vote Sarver by a three-fourths majority, a difficult and time-consuming proposal that could lead to Sarver’s lawsuit. The NBA’s decision to release the investigators’ report publicly exposed Sarver to widespread criticism and outrage. In the past, similar investigative reports were summarized by the association, rather than published in its entirety.
“I am so proud to be part of a league committed to progress,” James wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We thank Mr. Sarver for making a swift decision that was in the best interests of our athletic community,” NBPA President C.J. McCollum said in a statement.
Investigators from the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz documented a long list of workplace misconduct violations in a 43-page report, including Sarver’s use of the n-word on at least five occasions, repeated examples of gender-biased behavior and multiple incidents. which Sarver revealed himself to the staff.
According to witnesses, Sarver used the n-word while recruiting a free agent in 2004, during a team building exercise in 2012 or 2013, after an October 2016 game against the Golden State Warriors and while retelling a story about what a player’s family member had said while boarding the team plane . According to two witnesses, Sarver quoted a family member as saying: “The whites are in the forehead, [n-words] behind.” Investigators found that Sarver, who is White, continued to use slander for years despite repeated warnings from colleagues that doing so was inappropriate.
Sarver’s transgressions toward female employees included telling one she should stop working on an assignment because her child “needs her mother, not her father”, and another asking if she had received a “promotion” – a euphemism for breast augmentation – and telling the others that she saw “nothing.” this size before” as he prepared to shower in the team’s facilities. In another incident, he reprimanded an employee for her performance in 2011, objected when she began to cry, and then hosted a lunch for four female employees that attendees saw as a way to toughen them up.
Investigators attributed some of Sarver’s behavior to his “feminine and inappropriate” humor and his “lack of a filter,” but they repeatedly documented incidents that crossed the line into harassment. While receiving a “fitness check” from a male employee, Sarver “unnecessarily dropped his underwear” while the employee was kneeling in front of him, exposing himself. Sarver also danced “from sink to sink” with a male employee at a holiday party, took off a male employee’s pants in front of his co-workers during a 2014 charity event and asked at least one player on the 2009-2010 team about personal hygiene habits.
Under the terms of his suspension, Sarver has been barred from attending all NBA and WNBA games and from team facilities, cannot appear in public on behalf of the WNBA’s Suns or Phoenix Mercury, and cannot participate in his organization’s business operations or league meetings. Sam Garvin, a longtime minority owner of the Suns, replaced Sarver on a temporary basis.
“The Racist Old Boys Club in professional sports is officially closed,” Sharpton said in a statement. “A new era is coming in which we are unlikely to view black players as possessions. Sarver’s decision today is the first step in the long road toward justice for the Suns and Mercury – crew, players and fans. It is now imperative that the NBA, both teams, pursue And the corporate sponsors, the new owner, whoever it is, the obligation to root out racism, misogyny, and hate.”
Throughout his tenure, Sarver was known as a frugal, sometimes combative owner who struggled to put winning teams on the field after the initial success of the “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns, who reached the Western Conference finals in 2005 and 2006 and Phoenix missed the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons of 2011 to 2020, as Sarver switched coaches, he hired and fired executives frequently in the NBA draft. During a particularly turbulent period, Sarver fired coach Earl Watson only three games in the 2017-2018 season, then fired his full replacement, Igor Kokoskov, one season later.
There were many adventures along the way. In 2014, Sarver apologized to Suns fans because the San Antonio Spurs chose to rest several stars during a game in Phoenix. Tottenham manager Greg Popovich responded candidly by saying that Sarver should have worn a “chicken suit” during his speech. In 2017, the Suns guard Eric Bledsoe is famous for tweeting “I don’t want to be here,” a business request he later claimed was a reference to his boredom at a hair salon. Then, in 2019, Sarver reportedly placed live goats in his general manager’s office in what appears to be a motivational tactic.
But the arrival of coach Monty Williams and Paul in recent years has brought the Suns back to the playoffs and onto the national stage. Phoenix reached the finals in 2021 for the first time since 1993, winning a record 64 games last season despite an ongoing investigation into Sarver. With a talented roster built around Paul, All-Star goalkeeper Devin Booker, striker Michael Bridges and quarterback Dendry Eaton, the Suns enter next season as one of West’s favorites.
Sarver led a group that bought The Suns for nearly $400 million in 2004, and a recent Forbes estimate pegs the franchise’s current value at more than $1.8 billion. The Suns sale price valuation could exceed $2 billion, as the value of NBA franchises has increased dramatically in recent years, and a new national media rights deal looms large. After selling the Clippers for $2 billion in 2014, the Houston Rockets sold for $2.2 billion in 2017 and the Brooklyn Nets with Barclays Center for $3.3 billion in 2019. Since 2020, smaller market franchises such as the Utah Jazz ($1.6 billion) And the Minnesota Timberwolves ($1.5 billion) have produced lucrative revenue for their longtime owners.
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