Earlier today, NBA reporter Jordan Schultz reported that the NBA was preparing for a "massive" story about Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver. In it, according to Schultz, are allegations of racism, sexism, and sexual harassment.
"With enough evidence to support such claims, there’s a real chance the league would forcibly remove Sarver," Schultz said in his tweet. He did not indicated which outlet was working on the story, or when it might drop.
The Suns are trying to get out ahead of the situation. Moments ago, they dropped a statement, featuring quotes from Sarver as well as general manager James Jones, denying the details in the forthcoming story, which appears to be coming from ESPN. The team is calling into question its credibility before its publication.
"We understand that ESPN is considering publishing a proposed story that makes completely baseless claims against the Suns Legacy Partners, LLC organization concerning a variety of topics," the Suns statement reads. "Documentary evidence in our possession and eyewitness accounts directly contradict the reporter's accusations, and we are preparing our response to his questions. We urge everyone not to rush to judgment here. Especially based on lies, innuendo, and a false narrative to attack our organization and its leadership."
Jones, a longtime NBA player who helped build the Western Conference Championship team last year, says that the accusations don't "describe the Robert Sarver I know, respect, and like. Jason Rowley, the team's President and CEO, accuses the unnamed reporter in question of harassment, and manufacturing the story.
Sarver is quoted in the middle of the statement, and flatly denies the forthcoming allegations.
"I am wholly shocked by some of the allegations purported by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations. While I can't begin to know how to respond to some of the vague suggestions made by mostly anonymous voices, I can certainly tell you that some of the claims I find completely repugnant to my nature and to the character of the Suns/Mercury workplace and I can tell you they never, ever happened.
*First and foremost, I reject any insinuation of personal or organizational racism or gender discrimination. I despise language that disrespects any individuals, regardless of race, gender, preference, or choice. Such language has no place in business or at home in what I consider Suns and Mercury families. I am proud of our record of diversity and inclusion on both teams - whether on the court or in the front office.
*I don't begin to know how to prove that something DIDN'T happen, and it is difficult to erase or forget ugly accusations once they are made. Even hints of racism or sexism in our culture today are toxic and damaging and should not be lightly raised. I categorically deny any and all suggestions that I used disparaging language related to race or gender. I would like to think that my actions and public record regarding race, gender, or discrimination of any kind, over a lifetime in business and community service, will adequately answer any questions anyone might raise about my commitment to equality and fairness.
The Phoenix Suns certainly came out on the offensive, considering no report has yet been published, but based on the response here the accusations sound significant.
We'll have more if and when the ESPN report on Robert Sarver and the Suns drops.
Phoenix Suns have released a statement on the story in the process of being reported on Robert Sarver. They are calling these "baseless claims."
"Especially based on lies, innuendo, and a false narrative to attack our organization and its leadership." pic.twitter.com/7AmewuQ7xN
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) October 22, 2021