NBA’s franchise Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Pheonix Mercury will both be sold to new owners after their current majority owner Robert Sarver decided to part ways with the teams.
The news comes just a week after Sarver was suspended for a year and fined 10 million US Dollars by the league after an independent investigation found that he engaged in inequitable conduct toward female employees, including “sex-related comments” and inappropriate remarks on female employees’ appearances.
Sarver was also found to have used racial slurs on at least five occasions “when recounting the statements of others”.
“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.
Sarver had few options than putting the Phoenix Suns and Mercury up to be sold after the punishment handed to him was deemed unsatisfactory by many in the basketball circles including a certain Lebron James.
There was also the threat of commercial hits with PayPal announcing it will not renew its partnership with the Suns if Sarver continued in the role with others expected to join.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also endorsed Sarver’s decision. “This is the right next step for the organization and community,” Silver said in a brief statement.
Sarver, a real estate developer, purchased the Suns in 2004 for $401 million with the team now valued at $1.8 billion at the beginning of last season, according to Forbes.
The new prospective buyers, according to reports, include Jeff Bezos, former Disney CEO Bob Iger, ex-Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Washington Wizards minority owner Laurene Jobs.