The news comes after the NBA recently announced the team owner will be suspended one year and face a $10 million fine.
The news comes after the NBA announced the team owner will be suspended one year and was dealt a $10 million fine stemming from an investigation into workplace misconduct.
“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 said, in part, in his written statement. “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.”
When announcing the punishment, the league said that the investigation found the 60-year-old used the n-word at least five times “when recounting the statements of others” during his time with both franchises. Additionally, he consistently acted inappropriately toward employees. There were “instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees,” which included “sex-related comments,” the league said in a statement. Additionally, he reportedly engaged in “inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.”
However, the investigation determined that none of Sarver’s behavior was “motivated by racial or gender-based animus.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a press conference last week that he stands by the punishment even though he had the option to suspend Sarver longer. “The conduct is indefensible, but I feel like we dealt with it in a fair manner,” adding that they took “into account the totality of the circumstances, not just those particular allegations.”
Sports Illustrated’s Howard Beck asked Silver why there was a different standard for the team owner over regular employees, since it’s likely any typical employee would have been fired for conducting themselves in a similar manner.
“I don’t have the right to take away his team,” Silver said. “I don’t want to rest on that legal point because, of course, there could be a process to take away someone’s team in this league it’s very involved and I ultimately made the decision that it didn’t rise to that level.”
According to ESPN, Sarver owns roughly 30% of the Suns.
The investigation was launched after ESPN reported dozens of accounts from current and former Suns employees. They detailed in the November 2021 report a toxic workplace environment under the 60-year-old that included both racism and misogyny. The story detailed instances of when Sarver said the n-word, such as when he said he hired Lindsey Hunter as head coach in ’13 over Dan Majerle because “these [n-words] need a [n-word].”
Since the league’s announcement of the punishment, multiple people have spoken out, such as LeBron James, Chris Paul and Draymond Green. PayPal announced it would not renew its sponsorship if Sarver remained the owner of the Suns, and minority owner Jahm Najafi called for the 60-year-old’s resignation.
“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,” Sarver wrote. “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.”
The WNBPA sent a letter to both NBA and WNBA commissioners about how leadership “missed the mark” on “meaningful accountability” in regards to Sarver. They added how it “is never too late to do the right thing with respect to [Sarver’s] involvement with the leagues.”