Robert Sarver says he will begin the process of selling the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury

Owner Robert Sarver announced Wednesday that he has begun selling both the NBA Phoenix Suns and WNBA Phoenix Mercury franchises.

“As a man of faith, I believe in reconciliation and the path of forgiveness,” Sarver said in a statement Wednesday. “I expected the commissioner’s one-year suspension to give me time to focus, improve, and remove my personal controversies from the teams that I and so many fans love.

“However, in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that this is no longer possible – anything I have done or can do outweighs anything I have said in the past. For these reasons, I am beginning the process of finding buyers for Sun and Mercury. “

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he “fully supports” Sarver’s decision to sell the teams.

“This is the right next step for the organization and the community,” Silver said.

Sarver was suspended for a year and fined $10 million last week after an NBA investigation found he used the N-word at least five times in “retellings of other statements.”

Sarver was also involved in “incidents of unfair behavior toward female employees,” including “sex-related comments” and inappropriate comments about the employees’ performance.

“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,” Sarver wrote in a statement.

Sarver bought the teams in July 2004 for about $400 million. With about a one-third stake, he is not the sole owner, but he is the main one. Forbes recently valued the Suns at $1.8 billion.

Although Sarver does not fully own the Suns, sources told ESPN that he has the authority as managing partner to sell the team outright. One source added that a new owner or group of owners may ask that a member or members of the current ownership group stay on board, but that remains to be seen.

Sarver partners for their part released a statement later in the day applauding his decision to sell the Suns and Mercury, calling it “in the best interests of the organization and the community.”

The NBA ordered the investigation following a November 2021 story by ESPN that detailed allegations of racism and misogyny during Sarver’s 17-year tenure as owner.

“I’m glad to know that while Robert didn’t show genuine remorse for his actions at first, I’m comforted to know that he was able to put the organization and the city ahead of his own needs and desires so that we can begin to move forward without the pain and anguish of his leadership,” said Current Suns employee per ESPN.

Another employee involved in the investigation said: “I’m relieved, I’m extremely happy, I’m empowered and I’m motivated to continue to make sure that all the men still in power in this organization who supported this culture are rooted out.”

After the NBA investigation was announced, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Draymond Green have spoken out and said the NBA’s punishment was not harsh enough.

“So proud to be a part of a league dedicated to progress!” James tweeted on Wednesday.

NBPA President CJ McCollum added, “We thank Mr. Sarver for the quick decision that was in the best interest of our sports community.”

PayPal, the Suns’ jersey patch sponsor, has threatened not to renew its partnership with the team if Sarver remains the owner. And Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi, the team’s second-largest shareholder, called on Sarver to resign.

“I don’t want to be a distraction to these two teams and the wonderful people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world,” Sarver said in a statement. “I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the staff, the fans, the community, my co-owners, the NBA and the WNBA. It’s the best thing to do for everybody.

“Until then, I will continue to work on becoming a better person and meaningfully supporting the community.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who called on the NBA to remove Sarver as owner, issued a statement Wednesday saying Sarver’s decision to sell the teams was just “the first step on a long road to justice” and that the NBA still has some “soul searching” to do .

“The racist old boys’ club in professional sports is officially closed,” Sharpton said in a statement. “We are entering a new era where it is intolerable to view black players as property. … It is now imperative that the NBA, both teams, corporate sponsors and the new owner, whoever they are, follow through on their commitment to eradicating racism, misogyny and hate. “

The Associated Press contributed to this report.