Tumultuous week led to Suns owner Robert Sarver’s decision to sell

Sep 28, 2022, 11:05 AM

Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns attends the NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Pho...

Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns attends the NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Phoenix Suns Arena on February 08, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A new report details more behind-the-scenes information that resulted in Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver’s decision to sell the team.

While allegations of racism and misconduct toward women against Sarver were the primary factors that led to NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to suspend Sarver for a year, a report from ESPN’s Baxter Holmes and Ramona Shelburne details the different sources of pressure that led Sarver to decide to sell his stake in the team.

ESPN says that almost 30 sponsors – who provided nearly $11 million in revenue – would have needed additional convincing to prevent a mass exodus of financial support for the team.

Verizon Wireless and Footprint, two companies who have name stakes on the Suns home arena and practice facilities, were considering ending endorsement deals with the team following in the footsteps of jersey patch partner, PayPal.

The team had been planning for the fallout from the NBA’s investigation for weeks, sources close to the team said.

It was also revealed that despite Sarver’s anger toward the one-year ban issued by Silver, the two had been speaking often.

Silver had been speaking directly to Sarver frequently since issuing the yearlong suspension, sources said, encouraging him to act in the best interest of his franchises and remove himself from the equation by selling both teams.

The report also reveals that after Sarver’s announcement to sell the team that CEO Jason Rowley led an employee videoconference that neither galvanized the workforce nor addressed the impact that Sarver’s actions had on the staff.

After the call, the reaction to Rowley’s words was tepid at best, some staffers said. They believed he’d stuck to the company’s talking points, which had been distributed to staffers soon after the NBA’s investigation was released: That many findings focused on historical events that had already been addressed, that the team had made “tremendous” progress in recent years, that it strove to create a “best-in-class workplace.”

While Forbes last season valued the Suns at $1.8 billion — Sarver bought the team in 2004 for $401 million — the sale price could be much higher. Shelburne believes the Suns could be sold for up to $4 billion.

Phoenix Suns

Head coach Frank Vogel of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the second half of game three of the Weste...

David Veenstra

Suns GM James Jones on why Frank Vogel was fired: ‘We needed to improve in a lot of areas’

James Jones explained why the Suns fired Frank Vogel and why they waited so long to hire new head coach Mike Budenholzer.

6 hours ago

Bradley Beal #3, Kevin Durant #35 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns watch from the bench duri...

Nick Borgia

James Jones on Suns’ Big 3: ‘Those guys aren’t going anywhere’

The Suns GM told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday that there are no plans of trading Devin Booker, Kevin Durant or Bradley Beal.

7 hours ago

Mike Budenholzer and James Jones pose for a picture...

Dan Bickley

Suns’ Mike Budenholzer has a chance to reach new heights in Phoenix

Mike Budenholzer has already notched his first victory as Suns head coach. He dominated a must-win introductory press conference Friday.

7 hours ago

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer is introducted on Friday, May 17, 2024....

Kevin Zimmerman

Why Suns coach Mike Budenholzer might do what Frank Vogel couldn’t

Phoenix Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer played to a frustrated fan base. He gave reason to believe why he can do what Frank Vogel didn't.

8 hours ago


Arizona Sports Video

Video: James Jones on Suns’ Big 3: ‘Those guys aren’t going anywhere’

James Jones joined Burns & Gambo after the Mike Budenholzer press conference to discuss the teams offseason plans.

10 hours ago

James Jones and Mat Ishbia look on...

Arizona Sports

Report: Suns ‘closing in on hiring’ Nets executive Matt Tellem to front office role

The Phoenix Suns are reportedly closing in on hiring Brooklyn Nets executive Matt Tellem to a front office role.

10 hours ago

Tumultuous week led to Suns owner Robert Sarver’s decision to sell