PHOENIX — Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver says he is starting the process of trying to sell both the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.
The move comes about two weeks after the NBA announced a one-year suspension for Sarver after a lengthy investigation into alleged misconduct.
Sarver is accused of using racial slurs on at least five occasions, treating female employees unequally, and bullying employees on several occasions.
Sarver released the following statement Wednesday:
"Words that 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 professional men's and women's basketball.
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.
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.
I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world. I want what's 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.
In the meantime, I will continue to work on becoming a better person, and continuing to support the community in meaningful ways. Thank you for continuing to root for the Suns and the Mercury, embracing the power that sports has to bring us together."
The Phoenix Suns and Mercury released the following statement Wednesday:
"We agree that Robert Sarver’s decision to sell the Suns and Mercury is in the best interest of the organization and community.
We also know that today’s news does not change the work that remains in front of us to create, maintain and protect a best-in-class experience for our staff, players, fans, partners and community.
As we’ve shared with our employees, we acknowledge the courage of the people who came forward in this process to tell their stories and apologize to those hurt.
We are on a journey that began before last November, one that has included changes to leadership, staff and accountability measures. While we are proud of our progress and the culture of respect and integrity we are building, we know there remains work to do and relationships to rebuild. We are committed to doing so for our staff, players, fans, partners and this community."
It's unclear if any potential buyers have come forward.
According to a 2021 report from Forbes, the Suns were valued at $1.8 billion at the time.
Ben Bliklen came to the Footprint Center to pop a bottle of champagne after news broke about Sarver Wednesday morning. “This is a great day for Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Suns basketball, a new day,” he said.
Phoenix @Suns fan comes to pop 🍾 outside Footprint Center to celebrate Robert Sarver announcing he will sell Suns & Mercury teams following NBA investigation.— Nicole Grigg (@NicoleSGrigg) September 21, 2022
Ben tells me he’s been waiting for this day and rushed down to the arena after news this AM. #Sarver #Suns pic.twitter.com/ccy6JgP1xz
“ I think he’s doing the right thing by selling the team,” said Clovis Campbell, Jr.
Campbell has been an activist in the African American community for decades and is the publisher of the Arizona Informant newspaper, Arizona’s oldest and largest African American newspaper.
“Hopefully we can get some minority ownership as part of the Phoenix Suns, that would be a feather in the cap, not only for the organization but also for the NBA,” he said.
Among the key findings of the NBA's report into Sarver:
"Mr. Sarver on at least five occasions during his tenure with the Suns/Mercury organization repeated the N-word when recounting the statements of others. Mr. Sarver engaged in instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees, made many sex-related comments in the workplace, made inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of female employees and other women, and on several occasions engaged in inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees. Mr. Sarver engaged in demeaning and harsh treatment of employees including by yelling and cursing at them."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement in response to Sarver's announcement Wednesday:
"I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. This is the right next step for the organization and community."
NBPA President CJ McCollum released the following statement in response to Sarver's announcement Wednesday:
"We thank Mr. Sarver for making a swift decision that was in the best interest of our sports community."
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert released the following statement in response to Sarver's announcement Wednesday:
“The WNBA welcomes the news that the process of seeking buyers for the Phoenix Mercury has begun, and remains committed to upholding the diverse and inclusive values that the league has stood for over 25 years.”