Robert Sarver announced Wednesday that he has decided to sell the Phoenix Suns, not because he wants to but because he can’t tolerate the rising tide of public condemnation.
The kind of condemnation that comes not because he is a bully but because the conduct whispered in NBA circles for years was exposed to the world.
What Sarver underestimated is this: When you buy an NBA team and you’re transparent in your racism, shameless in your misogyny and take sadistic pride in mistreating employees – as he did for 18 years – the timer is always ticking.
When the ticking stopped last week and the clock flashed zeros, Sarver still believed his wealth and status would save him. If this were the NFL or the NHL or Major League Baseball, he might have been spared.
But the NBA, which presents itself as the most progressive of the major sports in North America, has little tolerance for embarrassment and less tolerance for toxicity. When Sarver’s serial workplace crimes came to light via an ESPN investigative report, and subsequently explored by the NBA, he was suspended for one year and fined him $10 million.
That relatively tepid move to banish Sarver was followed by many more. The WNBPA wanted him gone, as did Suns’ sponsors. LeBron James, the most powerful player in the NBA, took to social media to express his disgust. Chris Paul, whose paychecks are signed by Sarver, shared his…