Ex-Suns owner Robert Sarver reportedly gives $5M to team charity, $20K to employees

October 23, 2019;  Phoenix, Arizona, USA;  Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver against the Sacramento Kings at the Talking Stick Resort Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Former Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver reportedly gave hefty bonuses for exiting the franchise. (Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

Former Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver reportedly donated $5 million to the team’s charity, along with $20,000 in individual bonuses for many of the team’s employees. Baxter Holmes from ESPN.

Those who were eligible for the $20,000 bonus they would receive in their next paycheck were full-time employees who started on or before February 15, 2022. The report says that the bonus will affect between 250 and 300 employees.

The NBA fined Sarver $10 million and suspended him for a year after more than 70 of his current and former employees revealed accusations of racism, misogyny and other workplace misconduct to Holmes in a report published in November 2021.

The disciplinary action was taken after the ESPN revelation prompted an independent investigation into Sarver’s misconduct, which details numerous incidents of harassment throughout his tenure. This included confirmation that he used the N-word when recruiting free agents during his first season as team owner in 2004, and confirmation that he used sexually explicit language at the 2021 meeting.

Ahead of the team’s season opener in October, NBA commissioner Adam Silver reportedly apologized to Suns staff several times in a nearly hour-long post-investigation address.

It was reported last month that Sarver was finalizing the sale of the WNBA’s Suns and Phoenix Mercury to billionaire mortgage-lending CEO Mat Ishbia after nearly 20 years as majority owner of the Suns.

A week after the franchise sale closed, Suns president and CEO Jason Rowley resigned. According to ESPN, Ishbia bought a 57% majority stake in the Suns for $2.28 billion. Sarver reportedly sold his personal 37% stake to Ishbia for $1.48 billion. After taxes, Sarver is expected to nearly double the amount he and the investment group paid for the team in 2004.

New Beginnings in Phoenix

Ishbia was introduced as the new owner of the team on February 8 and said that Sarver chose him during the conference. Suns head coach Monty Williams told reporters that he spoke with Ishbia at a home game in January. Williams called it “great for the team, the organization and the community to have someone like Mat”. At 43, Ishbia will become the youngest team owner in the NBA, narrowly beating 44-year-old Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Peru.

On Thursday, The Suns held another introductory conference. This time it was for Kevin Durant – a romance that had fans lining up hours early for the star’s first appearance as the Sun. After a four-year trade with the Brooklyn Nets, Duran said the Suns have “what it takes to be successful.” His arrival worries Phoenix, who hopes to escape with his help.

His arrival came at the cost of Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jay Crowder, four undefended first-round picks and a pick trade. It also immediately took the team from +1800 to win the title this year to +450.


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