Robert Sarver is about to do something that wealthy white men do better than anyone else — fail up.
According to Forbes, the disgraced owner of the Phoenix Suns — and Mercury — will make at least $2.5 billion off the sale of his teams. It pays to be a racist and misogynist.
Sarver will easily get back the $10 million he lost when he was fined — along with a year-long suspension — due to the findings of the league’s investigation into his franchise. It was revealed that he said the N-word at least five times — which means that he probably said it way more in private — and that there were “instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees” as well as “sex-related comments.”
However, a story from ESPN’s Baxter Holmes in November of 2021 included additional allegations against Sarver such as:
• Discussing the way his wife performed oral sex on him.
• Pantsing a staffer in front of their colleagues.
• Asking a female employee if he “owned” her.
• Asking a Black coach why a Black player got to say the N-word.
• Telling a staff member that “these N-words need an N-word” in his reasoning for hiring a Black coach over a white one.
“The level of misogyny and racism is beyond the pale,” one Suns co-owner told ESPN. “It’s embarrassing as an owner.”
Despite all of that, Sarver wasn’t forced out of the league and will be able to cash in on a huge payday when the team is sold, as he owns 35 percent of the Suns and has the authority to sell to the highest bidder as the franchise’s managing partner. To make things worse, Sarver painted a picture of just how terrible he really is when he all but confirmed the allegations against him with the language he used in his announcement about putting the team up for sale.
“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 wrote. “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.”
Mind you, when this story originally broke the team said that Holmes’ work was a “false narrative” and that it demonstrated a “reckless disregard for the truth.” Sarver also denied everything.
Less than a year later and the folks in Arizona were singing a different tune. It’s also impossible to ignore that the drama may be affecting the team.
“I was in disbelief,” Suns coach Monty Williams said at Media Day. “When you see the bullet points and then when you go through it, um, you start to think about how these things impact the people.” On Sunday, the Suns lost their preseason opener 134-124 to the Adelaide 36ers from Australia’s National Basketball League after letting them shoot 24 for 43 (55.8 percent) from deep. It was the first time an NBA team lost a preseason game to a team not in the league since 2016.
And guess who else lost their first preseason game after dealing with a racist owner?
You guessed it, the Los Angeles Clippers fell in their first three games of the 2014-2015 preseason after dealing with Donald Sterling — and Chris Paul has had to endure it all.
When Adam Silver banned Sterling from the league in 2014 and forced the sale of his team after he was caught on tape being a flagrant racist — after there was decades-long evidence and other allegations that the league ignored — an appeals court upheld the $2 billion sale of the team in 2015. The court’s decision denied Sterling the opportunity to regain the team from his wife who was in control at the time. But, despite how much goodwill Shelly Stein (Sterling) tried to buy herself from separating herself from the man she chose to marry, the pair are still married.
Profiting off racism is as American as apple pie. And Robert Sarver is the new Donald Sterling in more ways than one.