NFL star Larry Fitzgerald has purchased an undisclosed share of the Suns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Adam Schefter of ESPN.
A longtime receiver with the Arizona Cardinals, Fitzgerald has forged a strong working relationship with Suns managing partner Robert Sarver and has been serving as an ambassador for the team.
Fitzgerald was part of the interview process when the organization hired Jeff Bower as senior vice president of basketball operations in April. He also helped to canvass for a public arena vote, but he won’t become more active with the NBA team until he retires from football, according to the authors. Fitzgerald signed a one-year extension with the Cardinals last week.
He becomes the second prominent NFL player to invest in the NBA, joining Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who bought part of the Bucks in 2018.
Wojnarowski and Schefter point out that Fitzgerald is well respected in the Phoenix community and should bring more credibility to the Suns and to Sarver, who has frequently been a target of fan anger amidst a string of losing seasons. Fitzgerald does extensive charitable work and was selected as the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2016.
“It’s an investment in something I have supported since I’ve been in Arizona,” Fitzgerald told Jim Trotter of NFL.com. “It gives me another connection in the community I love and always will live in. It’s a long-term commitment I wanted to make for life after football.”
Sarver and Fitzgerald have a friendship that dates back to 2005, a year after the wide receiver was drafted into the NFL, Trotter adds. Sarver brought up the idea of investing in the team two years ago when Fitzgerald was thinking of retiring.
“I had never really given it any thought before then,” Fitzgerald said. “I asked him to give me a little bit of time to think about it and wrap my mind around it. I thought it was a unique opportunity because I hadn’t heard of many other [athletes] doing it, but I wanted to really think about it because it’s a substantial capital commitment. It’s not something small.”