Phoenix Suns, fans liberated by Robert Sarver’s decision to sell
Bad owners can ruin a sports town, holding them captive for decades. History will show that Robert Sarver was one of the worst.
The Suns — and their legion of fans in the Valley — have finally been liberated.
The reprieve came with Sarver’s announcement on Wednesday that he is selling his stake in the Suns and the Mercury. The timing was an act of mercy from an owner who could be stubborn, defiant, combative and much, much worse.
For that, we thank him.
Sarver spared the Suns from the incoming storm. He spared them from having to answer heavy, taxing questions on Media Day, where they would’ve felt pressure from both sides. They would’ve felt internal pressure to defend the volatile man who signs their paychecks, the man who likened the NBA investigation to a witch hunt. And they would’ve felt external pressure to further condemn their owner, following the lead of LeBron James, Chris Paul and Draymond Green.
The Suns are trying to win an elusive NBA championship. They didn’t need another battle, one that could’ve torn apart the organization from the inside out.
Sarver’s path to exiting hasn’t been exactly graceful. He blamed a “current unforgiving culture,” as if he were being unfairly canceled. And his apparent belief that he could just return after a one-year suspension is proof of how shielded he has been by wealth, power and privilege.
Had Sarver insisted upon returning, the Suns would’ve become a pariah franchise. Opposing players might’ve protested by vowing to never play in Phoenix again. Free agents would begin to view the Suns as a destination to avoid at all costs. The damage could’ve lasted another decade, maybe longer.
This is a chance for renewal. Sarver leaves with his own bag, profiting greatly from the franchise he purchased 18 years ago. Hopefully, the victims in the NBA’s investigation find some measure of relief. That includes former General Manager Ryan McDonough, who was also bullied and traumatized. He deserves another chance to run an NBA team. A fair chance.
There is an old saying about the devil you know and the one you don’t. That shouldn’t apply here. The NBA will undoubtedly help broker the deal, making the sure the next owner of the Suns is in alignment with the league’s progressive agenda and core values. Hopefully, that owner will be very rich and extremely generous, spending whatever it takes to finally get the Suns to a championship parade.
Oh, and one more thing:
In recent months, a prominent Valley businessman and original season ticket holder approached Sarver with a very generous proposition of his own. He offered to purchase a state-of-the-art statue of Jerry Colangelo and donate it to the team on the sole condition that Sarver display the statue prominently outside Footprint Center. The response?
Crickets. Not interested.
Let’s hope the new majority owner can right many different wrongs.
Reach Bickley at email@example.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.