Robert Sarver's role in the NBA lockout is threatening to turn the Phoenix Suns into a forgotten franchise. Once the jewel of Arizona Sports, the team's owner is dismantling decades of goodwill and trust with his actions.
I'll admit that I've had my head in the sand for awhile now about all the negativity floating around about Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver. Sure, he's made some bad basketball decisions starting with letting Joe Johnson go and ending with...well, they don't seem to have ended and that's the problem.
It's one thing to make a judgement call on a player and be wrong. While we would all like to think we would be FAR better at owning and running a professional basketball team, the reality is much more complicated. Hell, most of us can't even win a fantasy league.
I was certainly willing to forgive some mistakes like pushing to trade for Shaq and selling draft picks at a time when the team was already in the luxury tax and was in "win now" mode and had a coach who was never going to focus on developing or playing rookies. Letting Amare go in hindsight is easy to criticize but it's not my money resting on the long term viability of his surgically repaired knees and eye.
Unfortunately, however, the Sarver nonsense has gone too far.
I've really tried to give the man every benefit of the doubt but I can no longer ignore all the whispered negativity from people who work or have worked for him and the multiple reports about his role as a hard line hawk in the NBA lockout fiasco.
On Wednesday morning Yahoo! Sports respected national NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski was a guest on the Chuck and Vince Show on 1060 am (which by the way, is by far the best local sports talk show in town).
Here's a sample of what Woj had to say about the guy controlling the fortunes of the Phoenix Suns basketball team I started watching as a kid in the mid-70's.
"I think Sarver's been the most difficult and has been really the last couple years of this thing. I quoted an ownership source the other day in story that he talks so much and says so many outlandish things in these meetings (that) people tune him out. You know him in Phoenix, he can erode his credibility just by opening his mouth."
Sarver is reportedly one of the most hawkish owners when it comes to pushing for massive changes to the NBA revenue system that threatens to kill the golden goose produced record fan interest last season and generated over $4 billion in revenue.
"I do think guys like Sarver are willing to lose the whole season," Woj said.
That's comforting to know, isn't it?
It's not just that Robert Sarver as a mid-market owner (who's real estate and business interests have suffered with the Wall Street created financial meltdown) is trying to reform the NBA and create more competitive balance, he is also building a reputation for himself that can only hurt the Suns.
How many free agents given relatively equal options are going to want to come play for a guy who's turned himself into the "greediest" owner trying to take money out of the players' pockets?
For that matter, how many other owners are going to respect a guy who reportedly told the players in a recent negotiating session that his wife asked him to bring the mid-level exception back in a designer handbag.
What is that?
Things are not looking good in Phoenix for the city's oldest professional sports franchise that had earned the reputation as being one of the best in the business.
We've seen the entire top executive team from Steve Kerr, David Griffin and Todd Quinter leave on the basketball side and more recently Rick Welts fled to take a job with the Golden State Warriors. When those closest to the top are leaving it's never a good sign no matter how many ways that's spun.
Sarver is on the verge (and well past in many people's minds) of becoming the laughingstock of the Arizona sports scene and that would be a real shame given the proud history of the Phoenix Suns.
I've tried to set up an interview with Sarver to get his side of all this but was told that due to league rules he can't speak with the media. That's a real shame because this silence is not only killing him personally, it's going a long way towards deflating the goodwill established between a city and a team over the last 43 years.
- NBA Lockout Allows Owners To Cheat Fans, Embrace Greed - SBNation.com When Robert Sarver sits across from a collection of players and says that he hasn't gotten the return he wanted on the Suns, and that's why he and his buddies are demanding massive concessions before he'll sign their paychecks, the fans left in the cold deserve answers. Those fans built U.S. Airways Center in the '90s and paid for its renovation just before Sarver took over. They ought to hear directly from Sarver's mouth why they are being deprived the product their investment in the arena guaranteed.
- Spurs Nation " Smaller groups could mean progress in today’s NBA labor talks LeBron, Dwyane and K.D. are gone from the talks today. Thankfully, so is Phoenix owner Robert Sarver. Regrettably — for him, anyway — he will head back to the desert without the mid-level salary cap exception in a Gucci bag he so famously has demanded.
- Robert Sarver reportedly even more ridiculous than previously thought | ProBasketballTalk I get the talk that we can’t compare owners or players’ issues to your average Americans because they’re so different. I get the complexities of markets and sports economics. But as far as I know, a dollar has the same value to Robert Sarver as it does to any of you. And talking about your wife wanting the mid-level exception in a designer bag, and using that as a reason to slow progress towards a deal that would save thousands of jobs this year and boost the economies of 29 cities is beyond absurd.
- Wade, LeBron make stand in labor meeting - NBA - Yahoo! Sports He’s been a strong advocate for a hard salary cap, and a source said that Sarver told the players in the room that he hadn’t been able to get the return on buying the Suns that he had hoped.