Phoenix Suns Owner Tries to Get Ahead of Bias Allegations

By Christopher Palmeri
Bloomberg
Oct. 22, 2021, 6:48 P.M.

Robert Sarver, owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Mercury pro basketball teams, is trying to get ahead of possible allegations of racial and gender bias, saying in a tweet Friday that claims leveled against his organizations “never, ever happened.”

The managing partner of Suns Legacy Partners LLC said he was shocked by some allegations “purported by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations.” He described them as “vague suggestions made by mostly anonymous voices.”

“I don’t know how to prove that something DIDN’T happen, and it is difficult to erase or forget ugly accusations once they are made,” he said on Twitter. “I categorically deny any and all suggestions that I used disparaging language related to race or gender,” he said.

“We don’t comment on stories that may or may not be in progress,” a spokesman for ESPN, the sports network owned by Walt Disney Co., said in an email.

Sarver, the executive chairman of Western Alliance Bancorp, put together a group of investors to buy the Suns in 2004. Western Alliance owns the largest locally headquartered bank in Arizona.  

This would not be the first time ESPN chronicled trouble with the Suns. In 2019, the sports news outlet described a “messy and dysfunctional” front office, with Sarver dressing down even star players in the locker room.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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