The Phoenix basketball teams’ owner had been suspended for being a bad actor.
That was quick. The owner of the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Mercury has thrown in the towel and has begun the process of selling the two basketball businesses. Robert Sarver did not want to become a “distraction” and added he “wants what’s best” for the organizations. On September 13th, the NBA suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million. Neither is much of a punishment. The NBA said in a statement an independent investigation found Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and League rules and policies. This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.” NBA players began to speak out demanding Sarver be stripped of his franchise. One of Sarver’s Suns partners wanted him out. One of the Suns’ marketing partners, PayPal, was not going to renew the partnership following the season if Sarver remained the basketball company’s owner. Sarver and his partners purchased the Phoenix Suns franchise in 2004 along with the WNBA for a reported $401 million. He will get substantially more for the businesses in 2022. Sarver pledged he will become a better person.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had one hand tied behind his back in doling out Sarver’s punishment. “I don’t have the right to take away his team. I don’t want to rest on that legal point because of course there could be a process to take away someone’s team in this league. It’s very involved, and I ultimately made the decision that it didn’t rise to that level. But, to me, the consequences are severe here on Mr. Sarver.” With Mr. Sarver apparently selling his businesses, Silver is off the hook for his decision.
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