Sarver is the team’s controlling owner and owns approximately 35% of the Suns, a person familiar with details of the ownership structure told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about those details. Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi is the team’s second-largest investor, USA TODAY has learned, and he released a strongly worded statement Thursday. “I have been made aware of the allegations against Robert Sarver, the managing partner who runs the Phoenix Suns,” Najafi said in the statement. “The conduct he is alleged to have committed has stunned and saddened me and is unacceptable.
Najafi is the CEO of Najafi Companies, a private investment firm based in Phoenix. The Suns’ web site says the company has “ holdings in sectors including sports, consumer, media, technology, and real estate.” Late last year, Najafi made a significant investment into Formula 1’s McLaren Racing, making him a vice chairman of the auto sports team. Could Najafi, who joined the ownership group in 2009, and other shareholders try to force Sarver to sell his shares or somehow overtake him as the controlling owner? Certainly possible.
Vincent Goodwill: NBPA Statement on Robert Sarver: “We are continuing to review the allegations in today’s ESPN story. We view these allegations as serious and applaud the League’s decision to conduct an investigation. We will defer any further comments until that process has been concluded.”
Marc Stein: Philly's Doc Rivers, who found himself coaching a team in a similar position to Phoenix in 2014 with the Clippers, when asked tonight if he has advice for the Suns' Monty Williams: "Monty's my best friend in the NBA," Rivers said. More NBA from me: marcstein.Substack.com
Marc Stein: Rivers said he preferred not to discuss the Phoenix situation as an outsider but the implication was clear that he will make himself available if needed for counsel with the Suns' Williams sure to face countless questions about managing his team amid a league investigation.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA has launched an investigation into the Suns and Robert Sarver, league says.
Two current Suns employees said there is considerable internal support throughout the organization for an independent investigation into the franchise's culture and that many employees would, as one said, be "more than willing to talk" to investigators. Said the second employee, "A lot of people view this as their chance to right this ship."
Both employees noted, however, that a looming concern voiced among the organization's rank and file is whether sensitive information, as well as their identities, would remain confidential to ward off any potential retaliation from Suns' leadership. Said the first Suns employee, "We have to be protected."
Michael McCann: The NBA used Wachtell Lipton, which is an elite law firm, to investigate the Los Angeles Lakers for tampering in 2017. The firm also represented the group headlined by Alex Rodriguez that recently purchased the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Gerald Bourguet: New statements from Suns president/CEO Jason Rowley and owner Robert Sarver: pic.twitter.com/17Zpk3H6Z4
Schultz, who according to his Twitter bio is not currently employed by ESPN, joined Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo to provide further clarity on his report of the report. “This report is a monster,” he said. “As bad as you might think it might be for us to be having this conversation, it’s worse. What I was told some of the things that are going to surface in this report, including sexual harassment, it is jaw-dropping. There’s just no way that with all of these people on the record, men and women, that he’s going to be able to survive this in my eyes.”
Schultz said he is reporting that former head coach Earl Watson and former general manager Ryan McDonough are both on the record in the story. “What I was told was that there has been a kind of sweep under the rug culture that he has fostered,” Schultz said of Sarver.
Phoenix radio host John Gambadoro tweeted that more than 50 people were interviewed for the ESPN story. It was supposed to run at the end of the regular season and ESPN senior NBA writer Baxter Holmes was involved. It is unclear what other reporters, if any, are also working on the piece.
John Gambadoro: Spoke with two people that had prominent roles in Suns organization in past. One said "wouldn't be surprised no matter what were to happen there" The other said "I believe it is total BS, I would not have worked in an environment like that if that were true" -
Suns general manager James Jones and CEO Jason Rowley both backed Sarver. Jones said the rumors didn’t describe what he knows about Sarver and Rowley said Sarver was not a racist or sexist. "I will also say that reporter in this instance has shown a reckless disregard for the truth. He has harassed employees, former employees, and family members; used truths, half-truths and rumors to manufacture a story in which he’s heavily invested and then perpetuate a completely false narrative within the sports industry to back it up. His tactics throughout this process have been without any basis in journalism ethics or even morality," Rowley added.
“This story is completely outrageous and false,” Rowley said. “It doesn’t represent — at all — the Robert Sarver I’ve worked alongside of for 15 years. He’s not a racist and he’s not a sexist. I will also say that reporter in this instance has shown a reckless disregard for the truth. He has harassed employees, former employees, and family members; used truths, half-truths and rumors to manufacture a story in which he’s heavily invested and then perpetuate a completely false narrative within the sports industry to back it up.”
Duane Rankin: #Suns reactions to team owner Robert Sarver allegations. Chris Paul talked about having "solid" locker room. Devin Booker said "something has to come out first" before commenting. Mikal Bridges said "we all have distractions in this world," but said they just "locked in" #Suns
Gerald Bourguet: Monty Williams on keeping the Suns focused despite what's going on with the impending Sarver story: "I'm not gonna talk about any of that, and nothing will invade or erode our culture. That's something that we've said from Day 1."
Duane Rankin: "I've been through a lot in my life, and basketball is place I get to have great joy." Monty Williams when asked about not allowing the Robert Sarver accusations to affect team culture. He also said that he needs more information and process it. #Suns
Jordan Schultz: 🚨 Breaking: The NBA is preparing for a massive story accusing #Suns owner Robert Sarver of racism, sexism and sexual harassment in a series of incidents, sources say. With enough evidence to support such claims, there’s a real chance the league would forcibly remove Sarver.
May 25, 2022 | 6:09 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The Lakers interviewed former Blazers coach Terry Stotts for franchise’s head coaching job in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Two more assistants will meet with LA in near future — Golden State’s Kenny Atkinson and Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham.
Zhaire Smith isn’t ready to return to the NBA just yet, but he will be playing basketball that you can watch this summer. In July, he’ll be playing in The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team single-elimination tournament where the Elam Ending is used and the winner takes home $1 million. His team, Air Raiders (a team of Texas Tech alumni), announced the news Wednesday afternoon.
What seemed inevitable over the past few weeks is now a reality — Jabari Walker’s time at Colorado is over. The sophomore forward signed with the agency WME Entertainment on Tuesday, signaling that he will be staying in the NBA Draft and confirming what his father, NBA veteran Samaki Walker, told ESPN earlier this month.
Along with Booker and Paul, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cameron Payne, Cam Johnson, and Ish Wainright have been confirmed to participate in the event, but there is also a disclaimer that “all participants are subject to change.” Deandre Ayton isn’t listed as a confirmed participant, but is on the promo poster.
The Golden State Warriors will name former NBA executive Donna Daniels as the new general manager of Chase Center, with an official announcement expected Thursday. Daniels will join the Warriors after nearly six years at Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment in Philadelphia.
May 25, 2022 | 5:12 pm EDT Update
In the first clue that the Knicks have at least explored moving up from the No. 11 spot in next month’s NBA Draft, New York brass interviewed Purdue’s sophomore, uber-athletic combo guard Jaden Ivey at Chicago’s Draft Combine. The 6-foot-4 Ivey is considered a top-5 pick and has been ranked no lower than sixth in most top mock drafts.