Ex-Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver ‘gives $20,000 bonuses to team employees and gifts $5m to the franchise’s charity’ – after selling $1.48bn stake following season-long ban and $10m fine over racism claims
Controversial former Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver is ‘giving a $20,000 individual bonus to many team employees’ and made a ‘$5million donation to the team’s charity.’
Sarver sold his majority stake in both the Suns and the city’s WNBA team, Phoenix Mercury, to United Wholesale Mortgage executive and former Michigan State guard Mat Ishbia earlier this month.
Ishbia agreed on December 20 to the deal, one that put the total value of the Suns and Mercury at $4 billion. Sarver bought a 37% stake in the Suns franchise in 2004, as he and a group paid a then-record $401m for the Arizona team.
According to ESPN, qualifying employees were those who began working for the team ‘on or before February 15, 2022.’
Former Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver reportedly gave out $20,000 individual bonuses
The Phoenix Suns and its WNBA counterpart, the Mercury, sold for a total of $4b this month
Sources cited by the outlet indicate between ‘250 and 300’ employees will benefit from the classy gesture.
Sarver was suspended for one year and fined $10 million by the NBA in September, after a 10-month investigation showed the Suns owner had used racist language, made crude and sexually suggestive comments to employees, and had bullying tendencies.
In the succeeding weeks, Sarver announced his decision to sell the team after several sponsors, including Verizon Wireless and PayPal, showed intent to cut sponsorship deals.
The 61-year-old and members of the front-office were, however, accused of racist and misogynistic behavior, including allegedly requiring a coach to fire a minority agent and allegedly announcing his preference for extra large condoms at a staff meeting.
In addition to saying the N-word ‘at least five times,’ Sarver was also accused of using language and engaging in conduct demeaning to female employees, including the time he asked a pregnant worker if she would be unable to perform her duties after becoming a mother. The unidentified woman was told by a team executive to start looking for a new job, and was ultimately demoted.
Mat Ishbia was introduced to the media as the new controlling interest owner on February 8
Ishbia is a former Michigan State basketball walk-on and the CEO of a mortgage company
‘As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness,’ Sarver said in his statement when announcing his decision to sell the Suns on September 21.
‘I expected that the commissioner’s one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love.
‘But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible – that whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past.’