Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver made headlines when he publicly called out the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter of an Oct. 16 preseason game in Phoenix.
Sarver was critical of several Spurs players and head coach Gregg Popovich for not making the trip to Arizona for the game, and offered fans who attended the game — a 121-90 Suns win — a free gift as compensation.
Two weeks later, Sarver’s position hasn’t changed.
“I do have a problem with it, to be honest,” Sarver told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Friday.
“Listen: The coach’s job is to do the best he possibly can for his players. But the organization, when they make a commitment to play you like they did with us — because the league doesn’t schedule preseason games; teams schedule amongst themselves.
“So, we made a deal that said, ‘You come play us here, and we’ll play you there next year.’ To me, that agreement means that you have to kind of live up to it, and leaving all those players at home and all the coaches at home, to me … I would not do that because as much as we compete against each other on the court, we also are partners in the National Basketball Association, so I have an obligation to my partners to treat them fairly.”
Sarver said he took to the mic at the end of the game in order to prove the Suns “are an organization that honors our word,” adding some fans decided to make good on his gift offer.
“It was because I kept being asked by people during the game, ‘Well, where’s this (Spurs player)? Where’s that one? Where’s the coach? Where’s this,'” he said.
“We had a good reaction. We had a lot of fans that took us up on it, and I think even fans that didn’t were appreciative of the offer and the fact that we cared about them.”
Popovich dismissed Sarver’s comments as “silliness,” adding he was surprised the Suns’ owner “didn’t say it in a chicken suit.”
While Sarver hasn’t backed away from his original comments, he understands Popovich’s position.
“He doesn’t care, and I understand that,” he said. “He does whatever he can to win and he’s pretty dang good at it.”
The Suns and Spurs renew their rivalry Friday at 7 p.m. in Phoenix.