Larry Fitzgerald among Phoenix Suns partners who sign statement disputing Sarver allegations

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Larry Fitzgerald sits with Suns owner Robert Sarver in the first half of a game at Phoenix Suns Arena on Feb. 17, 2021.
Larry Fitzgerald sits with Suns owner Robert Sarver in the first half of a game at Phoenix Suns Arena on Feb. 17, 2021.

Larry Fitzgerald and other members of the Phoenix Suns ownership group signed a statement released on Friday disputing ESPN's report detailing allegations of racism and sexism against majority owner Robert Sarver.

"We are members of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury ownership group, along with managing partner Robert Sarver. We have reviewed the article published by ESPN about the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury organization and Mr. Sarver,'' said the statement released on behalf of Suns Legacy Partners LLC, of which the former Arizona Cardinals star receiver is a member.

"To a person, we dispute the characterization of Mr. Sarver and the organization as racist and sexist. We support Mr. Sarver’s leadership and stand with him. To that end, we join Mr. Sarver in welcoming (NBA) commissioner (Adam) Silver’s investigation of the allegations presented by ESPN, and will fully cooperate in the investigation and any suggestions the league may have. It is our sincere belief that this inquiry will demonstrate that our organization and Mr. Sarver are faithful stewards of our employees, our franchise, our fans and the game.”

The list of partners whose names are included with the statement are presented in this order:

  • Glen & Lynn Carlson

  • Larry Fitzgerald

  • Sam Garvin

  • Heckmann Family

  • Steve Hilton

  • Jaffe Family

  • Andy Kohlberg

  • Steve Pidgeon

  • Rogers Family

  • Byron Roth

  • Scott Seldin

  • Mark Schlossberg

When reached on Friday, Fitzgerald declined comment beyond referring to what he said on his podcast with Jim Gray (Let’s Go!) on Oct. 26.

“To be honest, I was quite surprised to hear these potential allegations. They are simply not consistent with the man I know. I’ve known Robert Sarver for over 10 years. I don’t ever recall hearing him, seeing him act in any way remotely consistent with the allegations they’re saying. He’s been an amazing friend and mentor for many years.

“Any time allegations of this nature surface, you have to take them extremely serious. They deserve a thorough investigation, for all parties. Simply based on my experience, I’m completely shocked to hear it.”

The NBA on Friday announced it would launch an investigation into the allegations against Sarver made by ESPN, including multiple incidents or racist remarks and sexually inappropriate comments on the part of Sarver within the organization. Sarver has strongly denied the claims as ''inaccurate and misleading'' and said he welcomes the league investigation.

Kohlberg, Suns vice chairman, released a separate statement on Friday in addition to signing the one from the ownership group:

“I have known and been business partners with Robert Sarver in multiple businesses for more than 17 years. I have been Vice Chairman of the Phoenix Suns since 2011 and have attended regular meetings with the Suns senior management team and Robert Sarver since that time. I’ve attended hundreds of Suns games in person, and I’ve had conversations with staff at all levels of the organization, and no one has raised with me any issues about any sexist or racist behavior from Robert, and no one had ever made comments to me alluding to the culture of the organization that were consistent with allegations made in the ESPN article released on Nov. 4, 2021. In addition, I have never seen nor heard Robert make any statements that I experienced as racist, sexist or misogynistic."

"I was never contacted by the author of the article or ESPN to provide comments on these allegations. As stated in the article, only after the Suns attorneys requested that a wider group be interviewed did the author reach out to Steve Kerr and Lon Babby, as both were key people in the Suns organization at the time many of these allegations were alleged to have occurred. In my many years of working alongside both Steve Kerr and Lon Babby, I’ve known them to be people of exceptionally high integrity and character, and neither they nor I would have remained part of an organization that had a culture like what was described in the article."

Phoenix Suns minority owner and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald talks with owner Robert Sarver during the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Talking Stick Resort Arena February 12, 2019.
Phoenix Suns minority owner and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald talks with owner Robert Sarver during the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Talking Stick Resort Arena February 12, 2019.

Kent Somers contributed to this report.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Suns ownership group including Larry Fitzgerald dispute Sarver allegations