“As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected that the commissioner’s one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love,” Sarver said. “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.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sarver for one year and fined him a maximum $10 million last week following the conclusion of a lengthy workplace conduct investigation launched in the wake of an ESPN.com article in November. Silver, however, stopped short of issuing a lifetime ban to Sarver, a punishment the commissioner had previously given to former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in 2014 for his racist comments.
Prominent NBA stars such as LeBron James, Chris Paul and Draymond Green, as well as National Basketball Players Association executive director Tamika Tremaglio, decried Sarver’s behavior and suggested Silver’s punishment didn’t go far enough, and PayPal said it wouldn’t renew its contract as the Suns’ jersey sponsor after this season if Sarver remained with the team, which he has owned since 2004. Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi and civil rights activists such as Rev. Al Sharpton called for Sarver’s resignation, while Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and city council members issued a statement saying they were “appalled” by his behavior and planned to conduct their own investigation.
With the 2022-23 season set to open next month and team media days slated to begin Sunday, Sarver’s decision to pursue a sale of the Suns was met with relief leaguewide given his strong initial denials of ESPN.com’s allegations and his reputation for stubbornness. Though he issued an apology after Silver suspended him, Sarver disputed some of the report’s findings and his legal representatives continued to quibble over some of the allegations. There were fears Sarver would dig in, like Sterling, thereby creating a protracted power struggle for the future of the Suns and an untenable day-to-day existence.
“I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Silver said in a statement Wednesday. “This is the right next step for the organization and community.”
Silver noted last week that he did not have the power as commissioner to unilaterally take the Suns from Sarver. Instead, the NBA’s Board of Governors would have needed to vote out Sarver by a three-quarters majority, a difficult and time-intensive proposition and one that could have prompted litigation from Sarver. The NBA’s decision to publish the investigators’ report publicly, though, exposed Sarver to widespread criticism and outrage. In the past, similar investigative reports have been summarized by the league rather than published fully.
“I’m so proud to be a part of a league committed to progress,” James tweeted Wednesday.
“We thank Mr. Sarver for making a swift decision that was in the best interest of our sports community,” NBPA President CJ McCollum said in a statement.
Investigators from the Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz law firm documented a lengthy list of workplace misconduct violations in a 43-page report,…