Phoenix Mercury and Suns owner Robert Sarver plans to sell both franchises, he announced Wednesday.
The move comes after he was was suspended for one year and fined $10 million for what the NBA called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.” The league had been investigating Sarver following allegations of racism and misogyny, first reported by ESPN in November 2021.
The WNBA Players Association said WNBA and NBA leadership “missed the mark” with Sarver’s punishment in a letter to the commissioners of both leagues.
“Expressing disbelief and sadness at the findings of the report is not enough,” the WNBPA wrote. “We understand and value redemption. People, including Mr. Sarver, should be afforded grace as they progress. But that grace must be extended only after meaningful accountability.
“In this instance, the NBA missed the mark on this essential order of operations because he has never genuinely communicated any level of contrition.”
in a letter to the @WNBA + @NBA commissioners, @TheWNBPA said leadership “missed the mark” on “meaningful accountability” for Mercury + Suns owner Robert Sarver. the union added it “is never too late to do the right thing with respect to [Sarver’s] involvement with the leagues.” pic.twitter.com/e5sbJ4k1de— Emily Caron (@_emcaron) September 21, 2022
in a letter to the @WNBA + @NBA commissioners, @TheWNBPA said leadership “missed the mark” on “meaningful accountability” for Mercury + Suns owner Robert Sarver. the union added it “is never too late to do the right thing with respect to [Sarver’s] involvement with the leagues.” pic.twitter.com/e5sbJ4k1de
After reading the full report from the investigation and “engaging in thoughtful discussion and reflection,” the WNBPA requested a formal meeting with both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
PayPal had vowed to not renew its sponsorship if Sarver remained an owner, while the NBA Players Association executive director said he should be banned from that league.
In the wake of the response came Sarver’s announcement that he has begun the process to sell the teams.
“As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected that the commissioner’s one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love,” he said in a statement, calling the sale “the best course of action for everyone.”
“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. For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury.”
Phoenix Mercury guard Diamond DeShields responded to Sarvers’ announcement on Twitter, writing: “Well that’s a start!”
Well that’s a start! https://t.co/1IVletVlhB— Diamond DeShields (@diamonddoesit1) September 21, 2022
Well that’s a start! https://t.co/1IVletVlhB