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Robert Sarver says he's selling the Suns and Mercury after NBA suspended him for racist slurs, hostile behavior

Owner of Phoenix Suns, Mercury selling teams
Owner of Phoenix Suns, Mercury selling teams00:18

Robert Sarver says he has started the process of selling the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, a move that comes only eight days after he was suspended by the NBA over workplace misconduct including racist speech and hostile behavior toward employees.

Sarver made the announcement Wednesday, saying selling "is the best course of action."

"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," Sarver wrote in a statement. "For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury."

Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver on October 13, 2021. Christian Petersen / Getty

Sarver bought the teams in July 2004. He is not the lone owner, but the primary one.

"Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together," he wrote on Wednesday.

In a tweet shared on both teams' official accounts, the Suns and Mercury wrote that Sarver's decision "is in the best interest of the organization and community."

"We also know that today's news does not change the work that remains in front of us to create, maintain and protect a best-in-class experience for our staff, players, fans, partners and community."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a brief statement Wednesday afternoon in which he said: "I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. This is the right next step for the organization and community."  

Last week, the NBA suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million after an investigation found that he had engaged in what the league called "workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies."

NBA stars LeBron James and Chris Paul were critical of the punishment, saying it did not go far enough. Suns sponsor PayPal also said it would not renew its team sponsorship if Sarver remained owner of the team. 

The findings of the league's investigation came nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents over his nearly two-decade tenure overseeing the franchise.

The report based its findings on interviews with 320 people, including current and former employees who worked for both teams while Sarver was managing partner, as well as more than 80,000 documents and materials such as emails, text messages and videos, the NBA said.

"I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world," Sarver said. "I want what's best for these two organizations, the players, the employees, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA."

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