Robert Sarver still doesn’t get it.
The disgraced governor of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury announced Wednesday his intentions to sell the team in a press release where he failed to take proper accountability for a history of using the N-word and making sexually inappropriate statements to franchise employees.
After the NBA slapped him on the wrist with a one-year suspension and $10 million fine – a drop in the bucket for someone reportedly worth $400 to $800 million – Sarver eventually decided to seek buyers on his own accord, likely due to the public pressure.
Here is the full text of Sarver’s statement, via Cision PR Newswire:
“Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together – and strengthened the Phoenix area – through the unifying power of professional men's and women's basketball.
As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected that the commissioner's one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love.
But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible – that whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past. For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury.
I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world. I want what's best for these two organizations, the players, the employees, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.
In the meantime, I will continue to work on becoming a better person, and continuing to support the community in meaningful ways. Thank you for continuing to root for the Suns and the Mercury, embracing the power that sports has to bring us together.”
Sarver doesn’t take accountability for his actions. He tries to deflect blame by placing it on “words” “I have said in the past” and “my personal controversy,” but nowhere does he – Robert Sarver – issue a clear apology for his actions and pattern of behavior. He’s sorry that it has become a “distraction.” There’s a big difference. It seems like he's trying to play the victim here with that "unforgiving climate" comment.
Instead, he tries to make a point that he should be allowed a second chance because he has owned the team for nearly two decades. Being rich shouldn’t give you a reprieve from being decent.
Sarver’s ownership group paid $400 million for the franchise in 2004 and it’s worth an estimated $1.8 billion now, according to Forbes. He’ll have a massive part of that $1.4 billion profit pie, so the landing shouldn’t be so harsh on the other side.
You can argue that NBA commissioner Adam Silver should have banned Sarver like former Clippers governor Donald Sterling, who was served a lifetime ban in 2014 for racist remarks he made to his then-girlfriend. Players like LeBron James have openly criticized Sarver’s continued inclusion in the NBA after the league handed down its ruling. Warriors star Draymond Green also ripped the NBA in his latest podcast.
A little more accountability would go a long way in helping his image in this situation, because Sarver appears defensive in this non-mea culpa. Here's some reaction from around the sports sphere: