Robert Sarver sells Phoenix Suns and Mercury after harassment report

Phoenix Suns owner and Robert Sarver attend Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at the Footprint Center on October 13, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Christian Petersen | Getty Images

Phoenix Suns owner and Mercury owner Robert Sarver said he would begin the process of selling both professional basketball teams after a detailed report on nearly two decades of workplace harassment and inappropriate behavior by the CEO.

Sarver blamed the “unforgiving climate,” and said in a statement Wednesday that he was unable to separate his “personal” feud with the NBA and WNBA teams.

“Whatever I have done, or can still do, is outweighed by the things I have said in the past. For these reasons, I am beginning the process of finding buyers for Suns and Mercury,” he wrote.

Forbes The Suns, who lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals, are estimated at $1.8 billion. Mercury won four WNBA titles.

last week, NBA surfer suspended For a year after an independent investigation corroborated the details ESPN November Report which alleged the owner used racist language, made sex-related comments on and around women, and mistreated staff. The league also fined him $10 million.

“The statements and behavior described in the findings of the independent investigation are disturbing and disappointing,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We believe the result is the correct one, given all the facts, circumstances and context that the thorough investigation has brought to light in this 18-year period.”

Silver said Wednesday that he supports Sarver’s decision to sell the rights to the franchise. “This is the right next step for the organization and the community,” the commissioner said in a statement issued by the National Basketball Association.

Sarver’s controversy reminds us when former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was fined $2.5 million and banned for life from the NBA after he was caught making racist comments on the recordings. He had to sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer after 33 years of ownership. Sterling sued the NBA, but the lawsuit was settled in 2016.

Here is Sarver’s full statement:

The words 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 basketball.

As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I was expecting the commissioner’s one-year suspension to give me time to focus, compensate, and remove my personal controversy from the teams I love and many of my fans.

But in our present unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that this is no longer possible—anything good that I have done, or can still do, is outweighed by the things I have said in the past. For these reasons, I am beginning the process of finding buyers for Suns and Mercury.

I don’t want to be a distraction to these two amazing teams and people who are working hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world. I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the staff, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the NBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.

In the meantime, I will continue to work on becoming a better person, and continue to support the community in beneficial ways. Thank you for continuing to research Suns and Mercury, and for embracing the power that sport must bring us together.

CNBC’s Lillian Rizzo and Jessica Golden contributed to this report.

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