The Phoenix Suns hit back with a forceful statement denying “baseless claims” of racism, sexism and sexual harassment by owner Robert Sarver.
“We understand that an outlet is considering publishing a proposed story that makes completely baseless claims against the Suns organization concerning a variety of topics,” the statement from the team reads.
“Documentary evidence in our possession and eyewitness accounts directly contradict the reporter’s accusations, and we are preparing out 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.”
The team leadership, including Sarver, also released statements.
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver denies allegations against him
“I am wholly shocked by some of the allegations purported by ESPN about me, personally, or about the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organizations,” Sarver said. “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.”
Sarver went on to “reject any insulation of personal or organizational racism or gender discrimination” and to “categorically deny any and all suggestions that I used disparaging language related to race or gender.”
General manager James Jones had a short response: “None of what’s been said describes the Robert Sarver I know, respect and like – it just doesn’t.”
President and SEO Jason Rowley also released a strong denial.
“This story is completely outrageous and false,” Rowley said. “It doesn’t represent – at all – the Robert Sarver I’ve worked alongside for 15 years. He’s not a racist and he’s not a sexist.”
Rowley also went after the reporter working on the story for ESPN saying he “has shown a reckless disregard for the truth.”
It’s not exactly clear which reporter Rowley is referring to as the story has not been published. Phoenix themselves referenced ESPN as the potential publisher.
Sarver faces serious punishment if allegations of such a serious nature are able to be proven. The NBA banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life after he was caught on tape making racist statements.
The question now is which side has the more compelling evidence to back up their side of the story.