In a surprising turn of events, the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury will have a new owner (or owners) soon as Robert Sarver announced his intention to sell both teams on Wednesday. Sarver's decision is in direct response to the public backlash he and the NBA have received following the penalties handed out after an investigation found a history of racism and sexism in the workplace he cultivated.
Sarver only getting a one-year suspension and a $10 million fine felt like a slap on the wrist to many, including prominent NBA figures like LeBron James and the Suns' own Chris Paul. PayPal threatened to drop its sponsorship of the Suns if Sarver remained involved. Adam Silver was publicly harpooned for his answers about the perceived lack of severity in a press conference. By and large, it was a rather disastrous look for the league as a whole.
But Sarver solved everyone's problems by announcing his intention to sell today. He could not let go, however, without a parting shot at cancel culture. Which he framed as the "unforgiving climate" of the world we live in.
Just a reminder that Sarver is embarking on a process that will make him several billion dollars. Billion with a B. For a guy who is already worth $800 million. It's a bit difficult to get sympathy up for him, even if you empathize with his whole "what I've done in the past doesn't matter as much as what I could do in the future" angle.
The last NBA franchise to be sold, the Los Angeles Clippers, went for $2 billion. Despite the very embarrassing circumstances under which the franchise had to be sold and its general history of terrible basketball. The Suns are being sold under less severe circumstances given the lack of a lifetime ban handed down by Silver, are two years removed from an NBA Finals appearance, and just posted a 60-win season. The market value of a franchise based in Phoenix instead of Los Angeles is definitely lower but NBA teams have only gotten more valuable in the eight years that have passed since the last one was sold.
Sarver is set to make a buck. Yet his final cries blame cancel culture for his misdeeds. I wish it were surprising.