LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — After being slapped with a one-year suspension and a $10 million fine, Robert Sarver is saying enough.
The owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury said Wednesday he’s looking for buyers for each team.
In a statement, Sarver said he’s started the process of selling the teams, calling it “the best course of action.”
His announcement comes eight days after his yearlong suspension by the NBA over workplace misconduct, including racist speech and hostile behavior toward employees, according to a report commissioned by the league.
In his statement, Sarver said he was a man of faith and believed in atonement and the path to forgiveness. He said he hoped the 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.”
He also said in his statement that his past actions show a history of bringing people together and positive accomplishments. His goal was to keep both clubs.
“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 wrote in a statement. “For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury.”
An independent report commissioned by the NBA in November, which took about 10 months to complete, found that Sarver “repeated or purported to repeat the N-word on at least five occasions spanning his tenure with the Suns,” the league said.
The study also concluded that Sarver used demeaning language toward female employees, made off-color comments and jokes about sex and anatomy and yelled and cursed at employees in ways that would be considered bullying “under workplace standards.”
Based on the completed report, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million — the maximum allowed by league rule.
“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,” Sarver wrote.
Sarver bought the teams in July 2004 for about $400 million, The Associated Press said. He is the primary owner of each club.
Assuming no other team is sold in the interim, it would be the first sale in the NBA since a group led by Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith bought the Utah Jazz in 2021 for about $1.7 billion.
The NBA commissioned the investigation after a story by ESPN in November describing allegations of racism and misogyny under Sarver’s ownership.
Sarver, 60, a Tucson, Arizona, native, made his money — reports indicate he’s worth about $850 million — in real estate development and banking.