Suns owner Sarver announces plans to sell team

Feb 16, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver takes images during a game against the Houston Rockets at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Sept 21 (Reuters) - Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver on Wednesday said he is seeking buyers for the team a week after being suspended for a year and fined $10 million by the National Basketball Association (NBA) following an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct.

An independent investigation found that Sarver, who bought the Suns and the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury in 2004, engaged in inequitable conduct toward female employees, including "sex-related comments" and inappropriate remarks on female employees' appearances.

Sarver, who cooperated fully with the investigation process, was also found to have used a racial slur on at least five occasions "when recounting the statements of others".

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

"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 said in a statement.

"As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness... 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," he said.

"For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver endorsed Sarver's decision.

"This is the right next step for the organization and community," Silver said in a brief statement.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James also welcomed Sarver's decision after criticizing the league last week for handing down what he deemed too light a punishment. read more

"I'm so proud to be a part of a league committed to progress!" James said on Twitter.

The NBA commissioned its investigation following an ESPN report in November 2021 that detailed allegations of racism and misogyny during Sarver's tenure. Sarver denied the allegations and said he welcomed an investigation.

Sarver purchased the Suns in 2004 for $401 million. The team was valued at $1.8 billion at the beginning of last season, according to Forbes.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles Editing by Toby Davis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Los Angeles-based sports reporter who interviews the most impactful athletes and executives in the world. Covers breaking news ranging from the highs of championship victories to the lows of abuse scandals. My work highlights the ways in which sports and the issues of race, gender, culture, finance, and technology intersect.