Suns Owner In Hot Water Over Report Alleging Racism, Sexual Harassment

The Phoenix Suns strongly pushed back on a rumor team owner Robert Sarver will be accused of “racism, sexism and sexual harassment” in an upcoming story.

The Suns revealed in a statement that an outlet was going to report the allegations, and FOX News reports the outlet is ESPN. The team denies all of Sarver’s wrongdoings and accuses the upcoming ESPN article of recklessness and poor journalism.

“We understand that an outlet is considering publishing a proposed story that makes completely baseless claims against the Suns Legacy Partners, LLC organization concerning a variety of topics,” the team said. “Documentary evidence in our possession and eyewitness accounts directly contradict the reporter’s accusations, and we are preparing our response to his questions. We urge everyone not to rush to judgment here. Especially based on lies, innuendo, and a false narrative to attack our organization and its leadership.”

Sarver also pushed back with a three-paragraph statement of his own.

“I am wholly shocked by some of the allegations purported by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations. 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,” Sarver said in the statement.

“First and foremost, I reject any insinuation of personal or organizational racism or gender discrimination. I despise language that disrespects any individuals, regardless of race, gender, preference, or choice. Such language has no place in business or at home in what I consider Suns and Mercury families. I am proud of our record of diversity and inclusion on both teams – whether on the court or in the front office.

“I don’t begin to know how to prove that something DIDN’T happen, and it is difficult to erase or forget ugly accusations once they are made. Even hints of racism or sexism in our culture today are toxic and damaging and should not be lightly raised. I categorically deny any and all suggestions that I used disparaging language related to race or gender.  I would like to think that my actions and public record regarding race, gender, or discrimination of any kind, over a lifetime in business and community service, will adequately answer any questions anyone might raise about my commitment to equality and fairness.”

Suns general manager James Jones and CEO Jason Rowley both backed Sarver, FOX News reports. Jones said the rumors didn’t describe what he knows about Sarver and Rowley said Sarver was not a racist or sexist.

“I will also say that reporter in this instance has shown a reckless disregard for the truth.  He has harassed employees, former employees, and family members; used truths, half-truths and rumors to manufacture a story in which he’s heavily invested and then perpetuate a completely false narrative within the sports industry to back it up.  His tactics throughout this process have been without any basis in journalism ethics or even morality,” Rowley added, per FOX News.

Although it is not known when the report is supposed to be published, it appears like the league is preparing for a massive story accusing Sarver of racism, sexism and sexual harassment in a series of incidents. Sarver bought the team in 2004.

Sports reporter Jordan Schultz floated the rumor on Friday the NBA was preparing for the allegations against Sarver without going into too much detail, stating that with enough evidence to support the claims, “there’s a real chance the league would forcibly remove Sarver.”

Schultz explained further on Arizona Sports’ “Burns & Gambo” saying, “What I was told was that there has been a kind of sweep under the rug culture that he has fostered.”

Check back with OutKick for updates.

Follow Meg Turner on Twitter @Megnturner_ and Instagram @Megnturner.

Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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