Phoenix Suns, Mercury owner Robert Sarver fined, banned for one year for racist, misogynistic comments

Others call for resignation, lifetime ban


Michael Tipton (Flickr)

2013 Phoenix Suns logo

Alex Keeler, Reporter

The water that Phoenix Mercury and Suns owner Robert Sarver found himself in earlier this week wasn’t just hot, it was boiling. And he found himself fined and suspended for one year by the NBA. 

Sarver had been under investigation for workplace misconduct since November, 2021, after ESPN released a report of him using racist and misogynistic comments on numerous occasions. 

On top of the one-year suspension from the league, Sarver was also slapped with a hefty $10 million dollar fine, the maximum allowed by the league. 

Despite the financial penalty and lengthy suspension, the worst may be yet to come for Sarver. 

On Thursday, Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi, called for the resignation of Sarver in an open letter to the organization’s employees. 

“I cannot in good judgment sit back and allow our children and future generations of fans to 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 said in the letter. 

PayPal, which has been a sponsor for the Mercury and Suns since 2018, has threatened not to renew their sponsorship with either organization in a statement released Friday by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman. 

“In light of the findings of the NBA’s investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship should Robert Sarver remain involved with the Suns organization, after serving his suspension,” Schulman said. 

Also on Friday, Tamika Tremaglio, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association called for more. 

“We are absolutely calling for [a lifetime ban],” Tremaglio said on ESPN’s “NBA Today.” “We do not want him to be in a position where he is managing or engaging with individuals who are engaging with our players or the players themselves. We are absolutely clear from the findings that are in the report that we do not want him to be in that position.” 

The NBA has not removed an owner from its role within an organization since 2014, when the NBA forced then Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling to sell the team as a result of racial discrimination.