Sports | October 25, 2021 10:33 am

Phoenix Suns Owner Robert Sarver Denies Allegations of Racism, Sexism

The allegations, which also include sexual harassment, are supposedly coming in an ESPN story

Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver attends the 2021 WNBA Finals
Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver attends the 2021 WNBA Finals.
Christian Petersen/Getty

Before he was officially hit with allegations of racism, sexism and sexual harassment that are reportedly coming in an upcoming ESPN story, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver fired a preemptive strike at The Worldwide Leader denying the charges that are supposed to be coming his way.

Jordan Schultz, who hosts the PullUpPod podcast with Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, tweeted on Friday that a story accusing Sarver was about to be released. “The NBA is preparing for a massive story accusing Suns owner Robert Sarver of racism, sexism and sexual harassment in a series of incidents, sources say,” he wrote. With enough evidence to support such claims, there’s a real chance the league would forcibly remove Sarver.”

The story has yet to be released, but Sarver, who also owns that WNBA’s Mercury, has already released a strongly worded statement denying all of the allegations that have yet to officially be made.

“I am wholly shocked by some of the allegations purported by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations,” Sarver said. “While I can’t begin to know how to respond to some of the vague suggestions made by mostly anonymous voices, I can certainly tell you that some of the claims I find completely repugnant to my nature and to the character of the Suns/Mercury workplace and I can tell you they never, ever happened.”

He didn’t stop there.

“First and foremost, I reject any insinuation of personal or organizational racism or gender discrimination. I despise language that disrespects any individuals, regardless of race, gender, preference, or choice. Such language has no place in business or at home in what I consider Suns and Mercury families. I am proud of our record of diversity and inclusion on both teams – whether on the court or in the front office. I don’t begin to know how to prove that something DIDN’T happen, and it is difficult to erase or forget ugly accusations once they are made. Even hints of racism or sexism in our culture today are toxic and damaging and should not be lightly raised.  I categorically deny any and all suggestions that I used disparaging language related to race or gender.  I would like to think that my actions and public record regarding race, gender, or discrimination of any kind, over a lifetime in business and community service, will adequately answer any questions anyone might raise about my commitment to equality and fairness.”

The team also released separate statements denying the yet-to-be-made allegations.

The NBA has not shown tolerance for racist behavior in the past and banned former Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling from the league in 2014 after racist comments he made in a recorded conversation came to light.

At that time, Sarver let it be known he didn’t want to be affiliated with Sterling. “I would rather not be partners with somebody who has the views that were expressed on those tapes,” he said at the time. 

 The sale of the LA Clippers franchise to Steve Ballmer closed in August of that year for $2 billion.