PayPal, whose logo is featured on the Suns‘ uniforms as part of the NBA’s jersey sponsorship program, issued a statement on Friday announcing that the company won’t continue its agreement with the franchise beyond the 2022/23 season as long as owner Robert Sarver remains involved with the team.
“We have reviewed the report of the NBA league’s independent investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and have found his conduct unacceptable and in conflict with our values,” PayPal CEO and president Dan Schulman said in a statement. “PayPal’s sponsorship with the Suns is set to expire at the end of the current season. In light of the findings of the NBA’s investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship should Robert Sarver remain involved with the Suns organization, after serving his suspension.”
PayPal’s announcement comes on the heels of Jahm Najafi, one of the Suns’ vice chairmen and minority stakeholders, calling for Sarver’s resignation.
As Baxter Holmes of ESPN relays (via Twitter), Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego and some city council members also put out a statement announcing that staffers will open an investigation into the situation to see if there’s any actions that city leaders can take in response to the report on Sarver’s misconduct.
Here’s more on the Sarver saga:
- While many league sources who spoke to Howard Beck of SI.com this week expressed frustration over Sarver’s relatively light punishment and commissioner Adam Silver‘s subsequent explanation, it’s possible the one-year suspension and $10MM fine won’t be the “final word,” Beck writes. As Beck observes, if NBA players, the public, and corporate sponsors continue to put pressure on the league to take stronger action, it’s possible the Suns’ minority owners and/or the other 29 team owners will in turn put pressure on Sarver to sell the team.
- John Hollinger of The Athletic views Silver’s Wednesday press conference as the lowlight of his tenure as commissioner, suggesting that Silver seemed unprepared for some of the tougher questions he faced and that his performance “had the impact of pouring gasoline on a brush fire.” However, Hollinger believes that Silver could salvage the situation by spending Sarver’s one-year suspension working behind the scenes to try to get the Suns owner to sell.
- Although Silver can’t force Sarver to sell his team, he could’ve imposed a suspension longer than one year on the Suns owner, Beck observes. It’s possible the NBA was wary of a potential lawsuit if it had handed Sarver a multiyear ban, Beck adds.