Early on Friday evening, Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver issued a statement denying any racial or gender discrimination or misconduct. Sarver's behavior is expected to be the subject of an investigative report by ESPN, which is expected to be released in the coming days.
Sarver's full statement:
"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."
Details of said report are unclear at this time, though the nature of Sarver's statement suggests they are likely quite serious. Longtime Arizona radio host John Gambadoro reported that over 50 people have been interviewed for ESPN's story, which was supposed to run following the end of last season.
Sarver has owned the Suns since 2004 when he bought the franchise for $401 million, which was a record price for an NBA team at the time. He also took over the WNBA's Mercury at the same time. Depending on the nature of the allegations, it's possible that Sarver could face some sort of punishment from the league. Without further information, however, it would be unwise to speculate further at this time.