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The reaction to a slap in the face for a year of suspension and a $10 million fine for Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver could now hit the team’s and the league’s wallet.

PayPal, the online payment company that has sponsorship deals with the Suns and the WNBA Mercury, will allow those sponsorships to expire after this season if Sarver is still on the team. Here is a statement from PayPal CEO and President Dan Shulman:

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“PayPal is a value-driven company and has a long track record of fighting racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination. We reviewed the report of an independent NBA investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and concluded that his behavior is unacceptable and contrary to our values. The PayPal sponsorship of the Suns will expire at the end of the current season. In light of the results of the NBA’s investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship if Robert Sarver remains associated with the Suns after serving his sentence.

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“While we categorically reject the behavior of Robert Sarver, we continue to support the team, its players and the experienced and versatile talents that now lead the organization, including the head coach, Monty Williams, CEO James Jones, Assistant CEO Morgan Kato, and Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Culture Kim Corbitt. ”

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This followed an open letter on Thursday from Jam Najafi, the Suns vice chairman and the team’s second-largest shareholder, who called on Sarver to step down.

“Similar behavior by any CEO, CEO, president, teacher, coach, or any other leadership position warrants immediate dismissal. The fact that Robert Sarver “owns” the team does not give him the right to treat others differently than any other leader. The fact that someone would find him fit to lead because of this “ownership” position means forgetting that NBA teams belong to the communities they serve… Therefore, in line with my commitment to help eradicate any form of racism, sexism and bias, as Vice Chairman of the Phoenix Suns, I am calling for the resignation of Robert Sarver.”

Star point guard Suns leads his players Chris Paulsaid the NBA sanctions “failed to really address what we can all agree was violent behavior.”

An NBA investigation into Sarver and the Suns, launched last year in an ESPN story, uncovered multiple incidents over an 18-year period in which Sarver overstepped the mark in workplace behavior: He used the N-word at least five times (after he was told by the team staff that he could never use that word, even when repeating what someone else had said), telling a pregnant woman that she would not continue her role because her child needed a mother, scolding other employees ( and commenting on their appearance), emailing pornographic material to Suns management, standing naked in the shower in front of other male employees after taking a shower in the coach’s shower, and more broadly creating a hostile work environment in which more than 100 current and former employees. cases of misogyny, racism or inappropriate behavior.

While there were calls for tougher penalties for Sarver, including removing him from power with the team permanently, if not forcing him to sell his shares, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stood in the stands this week and took bullets for other owners. who are hesitant to go down one of their own (because they are afraid they might be next). The silver players are in a tie unless a vast majority of the 29 other owners support the move. This has not yet happened to Sarver (as far as we know). However, as public backlash builds and starts hitting pocket commands—as PayPal is threatening—the moods of other owners, however reluctant they may be, may begin to change.

That’s why what Shulman and PayPal did was a big step forward. Now the question is, will other team sponsors follow PayPal’s lead?

ASSOCIATION PRESS — Aya Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces look like a safe bet to win a few more WNBA titles over the next few years, a realization that can’t be ignored even if they haven’t had enough time to celebrate their organization’s success. first championship.

“I think we’ve ended up in this league where everyone has their own standard of how they win and we create it,” Wilson said shortly after the franchise won its first title on Sunday in a 78 win over Connecticut. -71. Game 4 of the WNBA Finals. “Our journey is just beginning.”

Several core Aces players have signed contracts that will allow them to stay in Las Vegas for the next few years.

There is no one bigger than Wilson, who has already won two MVP titles and is entering her prime at just 26 years old. She was also named Defensive Player of the Year for the first time this season and will be the centerpiece of what the Aces hope will be a title defense next year.

Las Vegas will try to do something that the WNBA hasn’t done in 20 years. No team has won consecutive championships since the Los Angeles Sparks won it in 2001 and 2002.

“You see it. You see it,” Wilson said. “This is what we build. This is what we make. This is it. I’m so happy right now.”

Wilson has been the face of the franchise since being selected by the Aces at No. 1 in 2018. She led the team to the WNBA Finals in 2020 before they lost to Seattle.

She now has a WNBA championship as well as an NCAA title she won while playing for South Carolina, as well as an Olympic gold medal.

In addition to his MVP, other key players that the Aces signed for the next few seasons included WNBA Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and backcourt teammate Kelsey Plum.

“Knowing that we have commitments for next season is especially important,” Gray said. “We do it for each other and it creates a bond.”

That connection starts with Las Vegas Aces owner Mark Davis. He has invested heavily in the team on and off the court since he bought it in 2021. Becky Hammon from the NBA, making her the first WNBA coach with a $1 million a year contract, and is building a brand new practice facility.

“We’re trying to create a culture in Vegas where players want to come and be part of something special, something bigger than themselves,” said Hammon, who was named Coach of the Year when she led the Aces to the title in her first year.

Hammon became the first rookie coach to win a WNBA championship.

She knows the history of the franchise, having played the title role from 2007 to 2014. The team won the 2008 WNBA Finals. Now the organization is celebrating the championship.

“I don’t know, it’s really hard to put into words right now,” Hammon said. “A little surreal. You know, when I got the job in December, I thought as I started sorting through their lists that I could do something about it. I had a vision of what I want to do with this team.”

Hammon’s vision ended with a title this year, and there could be more on the horizon.

The Las Vegas Aces made it to the playoffs to prove a lot.

A’Jah Wilson wanted to prove that she wasn’t just an MVP, but that she could be the best player on a championship team. Becky Hammon was so close as a player but never won the ring and then came to the WNBA to prove she could win it all as a head coach. Kelsey Plum was trying to prove that she could go the full circle of her WNBA career from No. 1 pick to champion. Chelsea Grey, drafted by Connecticut, was ready to prove she could be the woman on stage…


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