Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, who was recently fined and suspended by the NBA over inappropriate workplace conduct, announced on Wednesday that he’s starting the process to sell the team.
He said in a statement that the “current unforgiving climate” makes it impossible for him to atone for the past.
“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,” Sarver said, seemingly alluding to “cancel culture.”
He noted that he doesn’t want to become a “distraction” to the Suns or the Phoenix Mercury, the WNBA team that he also owns and also plans to sell.
“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,” he said.
Sarver had been fined and suspended by the NBA after an independent investigation uncovered multiple racist and misogynistic incidents during his tenure with the Suns organization.
In a statement last week, he accepted responsibility for his past actions and apologized, as the Deseret News reported.
After Sarver’s punishment was announced, multiple players spoke out and said it wasn’t severe enough. Additionally, “PayPal, the Suns’ jersey patch sponsor, threatened to not renew their partnership with the team if Sarver remained owner. And Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi, the team’s second-largest stakeholder, called for Sarver to resign,” ESPN reported.
Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN’s NBA insider, noted on Twitter that Sarver’s decision to the sell the team takes pressure off the league to respond to all these reactions.
“There were always concerns that Sarver’s stubbornness and desire to paint himself as the victim would make him willing to continue as a pariah in the NBA community, but his decision to sell the Suns and Mercury bails out the league and his ownership peers,” Wojnarowski tweeted.
He added that the Suns should have no problem finding a new owner.
“The Suns are considered an extremely desirable franchise in the marketplace and will have no shortage of high-level ownership candidates. As a warm weather destination in West, league executives always believed this could be a monster free agent destination with right ownership,” Wojnarowski tweeted.
In his Wednesday statement, Sarver asked people to keep rooting for the Suns and Mercury. In the months and years ahead, he’ll focus on self-improvement, he said.
“I will continue to work on becoming a better person, and continuing to support the community in meaningful ways,” Sarver said.