Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is among several major names reportedly linked to the sale of the Phoenix Suns, ESPN‘s Ramona Shelburne reports.
Shelburne listed Bezos, former Disney CEO Bob Iger, former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Washington Wizards minority owner Laurene Jobs — the widow of late former Apple CEO Steve Jobs — as potential buyers following news that disgraced owner Robert Sarver planned to sell the Suns and Phoenix Mercury amid his yearlong suspension.
“These are big names that are out there. There’s going to be a lot more names that you’ll hear over the coming days and months but my expectation is there will be an outside owner who comes in to buy the Suns and it’ll take a couple of months at least. But Robert Sarver controls this process.
Sarver announced he’s already begun the process to sell the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury amid his recent yearlong suspension.
“I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury,” Sarver said in a statement obtained by ESPN on Wednesday (September 21).
Sarver, who owns 30% of the NBA franchise, was suspended for one year and fined $10 million by the National Basketball Association for engaging “in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards as reflected in team and League rules and policies,” the league announced in a news release shared on Tuesday (September 13).
The NBA citied a November 2021 ESPN.com article that detailed Sarver’s statements and conduct alleging racism and misogyny during his tenure as the Suns’ owner, which led to an independent investigation by the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz commissioned by the league.
“The report of the independent investigation, which was issued publicly today, was based on information gathered from interviews with 320 individuals, including current and former employees who worked for the teams during Mr. Sarver’s 18-year tenure as Managing Partner, Mr. Sarver, and other releveant individuals; and from the evaluation of more than 80,000 documents and other materials, including emails, text messages and videos,” the news release stated. “Mr. Sarver and the Suns/Mercury organization cooperated fully with the investigative process.
“As stated in the report, the independent investigation found that Mr. Sarver “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and League rules and policies. This conduct included the use of racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”
Sarver is banned from being around any NBA or WNBA facility — which includes team offices — as well as attending any NBA or WNBA event or representing the Suns or Mercury publicly or privately during his yearlong suspension.
The Suns were reported to be valued at $1.8 billion last year, according to Forbes.