The Phoenix Suns are expected to sell for an estimated $3 billion after current team owner Robert Sarver was fined $10 million and a one-year ban from the NBA over allegations of racist and sexist insults and harassment against employees.
The franchise’s valuation, reported by ESPN on Wednesday, would be the second-highest team property sale in sports history. Right now, the $4.65 billion sale of the Denver Broncos to the Walton-Penner family in June is the North American record, surpassing the $2.4 billion benchmark set by Steve Cohen in 2020 when he launched the New York Mets bought.
Sarver, 60, this week announced his decision to sell the team and the Phoenix Mercury from the WNBA after several sponsors, including Verizon Wireless and PayPal, planned to sign sponsorship deals with both franchises. He initially bought the team in 2004 for $400 million.
In total, the Suns have 30 sponsors with a one-year contract until the end of the new season. All in all, these sponsors generated $11 million in revenue for the Arizona franchise last season.
PayPal is the main profitable sponsor as the online payment company made $3 million in revenue for Phoenix last season, but CEO Dan Schulman released a statement saying the company would not renew its partnership with the Suns if Robert Sarver remains involved in the organization Suns, after serving his suspension.’
Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver announced he has started the process to sell both franchises and is reportedly considering selling both teams for $3 billion
One factor influencing Sarver’s decision to market the Suns was the franchise’s frosty relationships with its sponsors, including PayPal and Verizon. Both companies have threatened to part ways with the NBA team if the current owner remains involved with the organization after his one-year suspension from the league.
The Suns office was reportedly prepared for the worst outcome for Sarver, according to ESPN. Many, if not all, sponsors sought “extra attention and talking points” with Phoenix after the NBA’s final report on the accusations against the owner of the Suns, as well as Silver’s sentence, was made public.
In addition to PayPal, these sponsors included Rocket Mortgage, Kia, Opendoor, CarMax, Kroger, Beam Suntory, Arizona Public Service, Footprint, and Verizon.
Schulman, who is also a member of Verizon’s board of directors, had also sent signals to the Suns front office that the carrier was considering pulling the plug on the basketball franchise.
‘The walls came closer’ [Sarver],” an NBA insider source told ESPN. “A group of sponsors were all moving towards this common position.”
Suns minority shareholder Jahm Najafi was one of the leading voices in the front office who publicly advised Sarver to step down as owner.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver had also personally advised Sarver to sell, though he believed the league’s 10-month investigation into the Suns owner’s improper conduct was “dramatically different” than the former owner’s investigation. of L.A. Clippers, Donald Sterling.
In 2014, Sterling was given a lifelong ban from the NBA after telling his mistress, V. Stiviano, in a TMZ-obtained recording that she is “not allowed to bring them to my games,” referring to black people.
Sarver didn’t deserve the same punishment, Silver concluded, and the NBA commissioner offered the Suns owner a way back into the league in 365 days. The Arizona businessman was not caught on tape and there was no irrefutable evidence to find him guilty by default, unlike Sterling.
Sarver’s case has been compared to that of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling (left), who was banned for life in 2014 and fined $2.5 million for racist comments against black people
Sarver, whose net worth is estimated at $800 million, bought the Suns in 2004 for $800 million
However, the 60-year-old, whose net worth is estimated at $800 million, and members of the front office were charged with racist and misogynistic behavior, including allegedly demanding a coach fire a minority agent and allegedly announcing his preference for oversized condoms at a staff meeting.
Wachtell Lipton investigators were then hired by the league to further investigate the ESPN report, and confirmed the veracity of the claims by conducting more than 320 interviews, all detailed in a 43-page report that the competition has shared with the public. shared on Sept 13.
However, several players, including Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chris Paul, the point guard of the Suns, did not think Silver’s penalty was enough for Sarver.
Meanwhile, Golden State Warriors star Green called on NBA owners to vote to determine whether Sarver should be removed as majority shareholder of Phoenix Suns, as he called his sentence “bulls***.”
Tamika Tremaglio, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), echoed most NBA players’ views on the situation, saying in an ESPN interview that they “absolutely called for” a lifetime ban.
NBA rules state that to remove an owner, he needs three-quarters of his board of directors to agree to start the process. In September, Commissioner Silver made it clear in a press conference that he cannot act alone on “the right to take away his team,” referring to Sarver.
The NBA had the option to grant Sarver a longer suspension than the one-year suspension. The $10 million fine was the maximum allowable, as was the case with Sterling’s $2.5 million fine eight years ago; The NBA rules on maximum fines were changed in 2019.
Lakers star LeBron James insisted there’s no place for ‘that kind of behaviour’ in the league
Paul slammed the sanctions, believing Sarver should have received a harsher sentence
NBA commissioner Adam Silver personally advised Sarver to sell, ESPN reported, but did not think the owner of the Suns deserved such a harsh punishment as Sterling
But Silver revealed that Sarver was likely to be spared even tougher sanctions by the NBA for his racist, misogynistic and hostile words and actions because of an important conclusion from investigators.
Lawyers who presided over Sarver’s case by the union determined that the NBA owner’s use of defamation was “not motivated by racial hostility.”
If that hadn’t been the case, Silver indicated, Sarver’s sentence — a one-year ban and a $10 million fine — would have been much harsher.
However, the Suns owner still complained about the severity of his sentence to Silver, comparing it to the sanctions imposed on Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in 2018 after two law firms — Lowenstein Sandler and Krutoy Law — issued a ” toxic’ corporate culture.
In response, Silver made it clear that Cuban himself had not been personally charged with direct wrongdoing and that the charges were directed at the Texas-based organization as a whole.
Sarver said he had hoped “to make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams I and so many fans love” (pictured the Suns in action against the Dallas Mavericks)
All things considered, it had become inevitable for Sarver to sell, and it took all kinds of influences to take the franchise off the market from a business and sporting perspective.
“As a man of faith, I believe in reconciliation and the path to forgiveness,” Sarver said in his statement announcing his decision to sell the Phoenix Suns on Sept. 21. me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams I and so many fans love.
“But in our current ruthless climate, it’s become painfully clear that that’s no longer possible—that all the good I’ve done, or could still do, doesn’t outweigh the things I’ve said in the past.”
Under rumors of a new team owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Oracle founder Larry Ellison. Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs, would also be in the running. She currently owns a 20 percent minority stake in the Washington Wizards.
Bob Iger, who has close ties to the NBA from his time at Disney (a league sponsor and organizer of the 2020 NBA bubble), is also considering buying the Arizona-based franchise.