Robert Sarver, accused of racism and misogyny, announces his intention to sell the Phoenix Suns

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Los Angeles (AFP) – Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, suspended for a year by the NBA for racist and misogynistic behavior, announced Wednesday his intention to sell the franchise, which also includes the Mercury women’s team playing in the WNBA.

« Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that have brought people together – and strengthened the Phoenix area – through the unifying power of men’s and women’s professional basketball, » Sarver wrote in a statement. .

« I expected that the one-year suspension would give me time to make amends and ward off controversy about myself (…) But in the current ruthless climate, it has become clear that it is no longer possible that all the good that I have done, or that I could still do, is exceeded by things that I have said in the past », he continues, describing himself as « a man of faith, believing in the path of forgiveness ».

« For these reasons, I have begun the process of finding buyers for the Suns and the Mercury. I do not want to upset either these two teams or the people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to the fans around the world, » he concluded.

Penalty deemed insufficient

Sarver was accused of racist, misogynistic and sexist behavior in an investigation by sports media giant ESPN in November 2021, which relied on testimony from more than 70 Suns employees.

Appointed after the fact by the NBA, an independent commission of inquiry established that the leader had « clearly violated » the rules of good conduct governing the North American basketball championship. Among other reprehensible remarks, he had notably pronounced the word « nè*** » at least five times, but also said to one of his employees, when she was pregnant, that she could no longer do her job properly. if she became a mother.

He is also accused of having had an attitude of harassment, of using sexually connoted language and of having said « words that do not take racial sensitivities into account », according to the conclusions of the investigation.

As a result, NBA boss Adam Silver suspended him from all official duties for one year, accompanied by a $10 million fine.

But the sanction, announced on September 13, was deemed insufficient by several stars including LeBron James and Chris Paul, who plays for the Suns. « Like many others, I have seen the report, » he wrote on Twitter. « This attitude, particularly towards women, is unacceptable and must not be repeated. I am of the opinion that the sanctions were not up to what we can all consider to be atrocious behavior. »

Then the noose tightened on Sarver: the vice-president of the franchise, Jahm Najafi, who also has shares in the Suns, called for his departure, the executive director of the players’ union (NBPA), Tamika Tremaglio, believing that he should « never again hold a management position » in the league after his « horrible » conduct. Finally, sponsor PayPal threatened to end its partnership with the club.

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