Two weeks ago word began to circulate that ESPN was working on a big story detailing some troubling accusations about Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.
Although only bits and pieces were floating around, what had become public was deeply unsettling.
On Thursday, the full bombshell ESPN story that everyone was anticipating finally dropped. From start to finish, it pointed to numerous examples of racism and misogyny in an attempt to paint a picture of the sort of culture that was permeating in Phoenix.
One part of it in particular immediately went viral.
“When the Suns were recruiting free agent LaMarcus Aldridge in the summer of 2015, the team knew that Aldridge had young children in Texas and that playing near them was appealing,” wrote Baxter Holmes. “During the recruitment, Sarver remarked to two basketball operations staffers that the Suns needed to have local strippers impregnated by NBA players so those players would have children in the Phoenix area and feel obliged to be closer to them, giving the Suns a potential edge in free agency, the now-former staffers said.”
Sarver, for what it’s worth, rejects the notion that he ever made any such statement. In a legal letter to ESPN, he denied making either one.
It’s hard not to view this situation as similar to the one that occurred with the Los Angeles Clippers back in 2014. At that time, then-owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell his interest in the team.
Sarver, who bought the Suns 17 years ago, is one of the NBA’s least popular owners. His recent beef with his own No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton is just the most recent example of why his time at the top of the franchise has been so mired in controversy. Efforts by the front office to leak the real reason they didn’t re-sign Ayton to a long-term extension mostly fell on deaf ears.
Now that’s a Halloween costume. https://t.co/WVK6W11K9M
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 1, 2021
On top of that, Sarver’s rationale for not drafting Luka Doncic also did not endear him to the fan base all that much.
It’s hard to see how he will ultimately survive this scandal, but stranger things have happened.