PHOENIX – Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has released a lengthy statement against a story allegedly in ESPN’s work accusing Sarver of sexual harassment, racism and sexism.
On Friday afternoon, NBA insider Jordan Schultz tweeted that major media would run an article accusing Sarver of “racism, sexism and sexual harassment in series of incidents.”
Breaking: NBA gears up for massive accusatory story #Suns owner Robert Sarver of racism, sexism and sexual harassment in a series of incidents, sources say. With enough evidence to back up such claims, there is a real chance the league will forcibly remove Sarver.
– Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) 22 October 2021
Sarver released a statement Friday afternoon saying that the story he claims to be worked on by ESPN is “disgusting”:
I am totally shocked by some of the allegations made by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations. While I can’t begin to figure out how to respond to some of the vague suggestions made by mostly anonymous voices, I can certainly tell you that some of the claims that I find completely repugnant to my nature and the character of the Suns workplace. / Mercury and I can tell you they never happened.
I’m not starting to figure out how to prove something DIDN’T happen, and the nasty accusations are hard to erase or forget once they’re made. Even allusions to racism or sexism in our culture today are toxic and damaging and should not be mentioned lightly. I categorically deny any suggestions that I have used derogatory language related to race or gender. I would like to think that my actions and public record regarding race, gender, or discrimination of any kind, throughout my life in business and community service, will adequately answer any questions I ask. anyone who could raise about my commitment to equality and fairness.
As of Friday afternoon, ESPN or no other outlet had published actual reports of allegations against Sarver related to the allegations he had responded to.
Robert Sarver bought the team in 2004 for what was then a record $ 401 million.
Sarver has recently seen a resurgence with Suns fans, who have criticized his decisions over the years, having successfully rebuilt the team last year.
Sarver and the Suns brought in veterans Chris Paul and Jae Crowder to compliment Devin Booker’s young core Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, successfully building a squad that advanced to the NBA Finals.
More recently, however, Sarver has come under fire for failing to offer Deandre Ayton a maximum five-year extension contract for rookies during the offseason. The move means Ayton will become a restricted free agent in the next offseason.
Over the years, many former coaches and players have criticized Sarver’s financial moves and his level of involvement in coaching decisions.
In 2018, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Sarver “has acquired a long-standing reputation for being aggressively involved in basketball decisions” and that coaches “have become accustomed to the regular reprimands and demands for change of strategy and composition “.
None of the allegations mentioned in Wojnarowski’s 2018 report included allegations of racism, sexual harassment, or sexism.
Two months after that report, Arizona Cardinals star and future Hall of Fame member Larry Fitzgerald vouched for Sarver’s integrity.
“He is radically misunderstood. I love Mr. Sarver, ”Fitzgerald said during Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I spent a lot of time with him. I can’t think of anyone I trust more than him.
In 2020, Fitzgerald joined the Suns’ ownership group by purchasing a minority stake in the team. It is not publicly known what percentage of the team he owns.
Suns CEO Jason Rowley and GM James Jones released the following statements on Friday about the potential allegations:
“The Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury organization takes our commitment to fostering a respectful, fun, competitive and rewarding work environment very seriously, and we pride ourselves on our track record in employee wellness. We also take seriously any allegation of racism, sexism or harassment of any kind that has no place in our organization and is not tolerated. Regarding recent reports on an upcoming ESPN article regarding Robert Sarver and our organization, I will just say that we are aware of the false stories it contains and plan to respond accordingly. This story is completely outrageous and false. He doesn’t represent the Robert Sarver at all with whom I worked for 15 years. He is not racist and he is not sexist. I will also say that the reporter in this case displayed a reckless disregard for the truth. He harassed employees, former employees and family members; used truths, half-truths and rumors to fabricate a story he’s heavily invested in, then perpetuate a completely bogus narrative within the sports industry to back it up. His tactics throughout this process have been without any foundation in journalistic ethics or even morality, ”said Jason Rowley, CEO of Suns.
“Nothing that has been said describes the Robert Sarver I know, respect and love – it just doesn’t,” said general manager James Jones.