Robert Sarver, and the Next Steps in Ownership Moving Forward

De la Fuente (2022)

With Robert Sarver away from the team after putting both the Phoenix Suns and Mercury franchises on the marketplace for sale, the team’s future remains in doubt in terms of the lingering effects of the culture, the overall view of the franchise from outside fans and investors, and who could be a potential candidate to take the reigns of the team. Sarver was fined $10 million and suspended a year as discipline from the league after an NBA investigation reported by ESPN Baxter Holmes, which was conducted November 2021 uncovered accounts of misogyny and racism from a mass of “300 people interviewed and 80,000 documents reviewed” (Druin, 2022). Sports Illustrated recently released an article demonstrating BetArizona’s list for potential prospects including current Suns minority owners Jahm Najafi and former Arizona Cardinals Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Najafi has the highest odds out of this accounted for group of potential governors in which lead writer at Beat Arizona Christopher Boan states, “It is safe to say that Najafi has the
chops to become the first Iranian-American to own a professional sports team, with a net worth of $3.5 billion and a position inside the Suns’ current ownership group” Druin, (2022). In
addition, he released a public statement about Sarver’s release of ownership and his calling for his resignation stating, “I cannot in good judgment sit back and allow our children and future generations of fans think that this behavior is tolerated because of wealth and privilege. Therefore, in accordance with my commitment to helping eradicate any form of racism, sexism, and bias, as Vice Chairman of the Phoenix Suns, I am calling for the resignation of Robert Sarver” Najafi, (2022).

However, not only were personnel related to the Suns infuriated about the development of findings about Sarver’s actions, but players outside of the organization as well. Lebron James was one of the most notable to make a public statement, Tweeting “I’m so proud to be a part of a league committed to progress!” James (2022). In addition, a former NBA player reacted to the post of Sarver choosing to resign and sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury with a simple, yet effective “Had to happen!” Crawford (2022). Looking more locally, I tuned into Suns-related podcasts including the Coast to Coast Podcast hosted by Suns insider FlexFromJersey and Dan Duarte who go into detail on all Suns-related news including the Robert Sarver situation reiterating what has previously been mentioned about Sarver’s tenure and recent developments that fans have to “Celebrate, celebrate that this part of Phoenix Suns basketball, this dark cloud can start to dissipate. And hopefully the next ownership group is better, and someone like Bob Iger would be great” Coast to Coast Podcast (2022).

Bob Iger, the former Disney-CEO is another interesting name to keep track of during the ongoing negotiations that will presumably carry forward throughout the majority of the season, as he was linked back to being interested in purchasing the Suns in November of 2021 Ultimately the Sarver situation has not impacted the team so far however, with the Suns coming off of a dominant 112-95 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers moving them to 2-1 on the season. However, it is clear from players and those associated with Sarver’s actions have felt monumental negative effects from his actions, and it will be an exciting chapter in pursuit of ownership in the reflection of the Suns and NBA’s culture.

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