The Phoenix Suns and team owner Robert Sarver posted lengthy statements Friday evening disputing claims of racism and gender discrimination made in an ESPN story that has not yet been published.
“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 in his statement. “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.”
Earlier on Friday, insider Jordan Schultz reported that the NBA was preparing for a “massive story” accusing Robert Sarver of racism, sexism and sexual harassment.
In addition to statements from the team and Sarver, general James Jones and president/CEO Jason Rowley also released comments on Friday.
The NBA has banned an owner before for making racist comments. Adam Silver announced in April of 2014 that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling had received a lifetime ban for comments made in a recorded conversation. The sale of the franchise to Steve Ballmer closed in August of that year for $2 billion.
Beyond basketball, former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned earlier this month after emails containing racist, homophobic and misogynisitc comments that he sent before his hiring in 2018 came to light.
Sarver, who also owns the Phoenix Mercury, purchased the Suns in 2004 for $410 million. The current Forbes valuation of the team is $1.8 billion.
The Suns are coming off a Finals appearance in 2021, their first since 1993. The team lost its season opener to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday and is playing on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.