The NBA and NBPA had a sigh of relief when Robert Sarver announced his decision to sell the Phoenix basketball teams under his control – Suns, and Mercury. The decision came after Sarver received criticism from multiple people who felt his punishment was inadequate and that there was no place for him in the NBA.
Sarver was issued a $10 million fine and a yearlong ban from the league for racist and misogynistic remarks he passed in the workplace. However, he probably understood the ramifications of trying to continue his hold-out and felt selling was in his best interests.
"He didn't own his actions or words as I outlined, but he did recognize that he had become a distraction and frankly it's bad for business. It became very bad for the league business, for the Suns business," Ramona Shelburne reported on 'NBA on ESPN.'
How is this different from the Donald Sterling situatuion?
It is not the first time an NBA team has been sold due to racial discrimination. In 2014, Donald Sterling (former owner of LA Clippers) was forced to sell his team after a tape of him speaking to his mixed-race girlfriend surfaced. He was caught suggesting that she shouldn't be promoting her interactions with black people on her social media.
"We've ended in the same place where with the voluntary sale, the owners never had to vote. Donald Sterling. Shelly Sterling sold the team," Shelburne recalled.
Donald Sterling's wife took care of the sale of the LA Clippers, selling it to Steve Balmer for $2 billion. It was a big payday for the Sterlings, considering they reportedly bought it for $13.5 million in 1981.
Big names have come up as prospective buyers of the Phoenix teams.
The NBA has long been one of the top leagues in the world in terms of revenue generation. Robert Sarver has reportedly received a lot of interest already, including names like Jeff Bezos (executive chairman of Amazon), Robert Iger (former CEO of Disney), Laurene Jobs (founder of Emerson Collective, Steve Jobs' widow), and Larry Ellison (co-founder of Oracle).
"Robert Sarver is going to sell this team, and this is a really important point. He gets to decide who he sells it, too. So, anybody you hear is a potential owner. There's gonna be a lot of interest in this team. It could be 3 billion dollars, $4 billion valuation," Shelburne said.
The process is expected to take a while, and many more prospective buyers will likely arise in the coming weeks.