Suns' Robert Sarver: 'Millennial culture' can't handle 'setbacks'


The Phoenix Suns, in two consecutive games over the weekend, lost to the hilarious Sacramento Kings and the knee-slappin’ Los Angeles Lakers by a combined 43 points. The Kings and Lakers, holy lord!

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Oddly, Suns owner Robert Sarver decided to pin his team’s woes on an entire generation of young men and women, blaming “millennial culture” for the issues that seemed to hit the team when Eric Bledsoe tore his meniscus and forward Markieff Morris lost his wits when the franchise decided to deal his twin brother Marcus to Detroit.

You know – the same brother that Phoenix traded for because they knew Markieff and Marcus Morris would happily play so well alongside each other.

From Dan Bickley at the Arizona Republic:

“I’m not sure it’s just the NBA,” Sarver said. “My whole view of the millennial culture is that they have a tough time dealing with setbacks, and Markieff Morris is the perfect example. He had a setback with his brother in the offseason and he can’t seem to recover from it.

“I’m not sure if it’s the technology or the instant gratification of being online. But the other thing is, I’m not a fan of social media. I tell my kids it’s like Fantasy Land. The only thing people put online are good things that happen to them, or things they make up. And it creates unrealistic expectations. We’ve had a number of setbacks this year that have taken their toll on us, and we haven’t been resilient. Therefore, it’s up to our entire organization to step up their game.”

Like, millennials such as Stephen Curry? The guy leading his team to a record breaking regular season, months after leading his squad to an NBA championship while providing us adorable clips of his wife and children on that damnable social media?

Or, LeBron James and Kevin Durant? The men who needlessly cropped their shorts shorter and kept their tattoos hidden in order to appease the outmoded mindset of generations who came before them? (Save for the Greatest Generation, who had no issue covering their arms in tattoos.)

Or any number of the NBA’s 400-plus players, almost exclusively made up of “millennials,” who mostly manage to bide their time on social media, have a good time on those wacky-goof phones of theirs, while working their tails off on the court and living up to the NBA’s mandated off-court rules in between the whistles?

Robert Sarver, we remind you, is the guy that spent years in his mid-40s wearing a foam finger on the Phoenix Suns’ sideline seats a decade ago. That’s one’s right, I suppose, when you not only buy the seat but also own the franchise. With that said, as someone half his age at the time, it was a cringe-worthy thing to behold, forever masked by the fact that Steve Nash was blurring past him at speeds a foam finger couldn’t even keep up with.

Nash, with his side part and Instagram-heavy ways, reeks of a millennial more than most. He’s the guy that Sarver’s general manager, Ryan McDonough, somehow swindled two first-round draft picks out of the Lakers for, in a 2012.

That same GM, though, then bet that guard Brandon Knight would be better than anyone taken in the top five of this June’s draft – dealing one of those potential franchise-saving picks to Philadelphia in exchange for the guard. He bet that signing Tyson Chandler could also help land him LaMarcus Aldridge. He also bet that Markieff Morris could live without his twin brother Marcus, and that the months from July to October could calm Markieff down, knowing that he wouldn’t give up salary and hold out from his team.

He bet wrong in all cases, though these were understandable pursuits. You have to take risks in this league, and especially in the Western Conference, and sometimes things don’t work out. There is no shame in intelligently wagering on activity turning into achievement, only blame for any amount of hubris that follows – see David Kahn and Isiah Thomas for examples of such. McDonough, to this point, has not made any excuses for his club’s fortunes.

Sarver has never done as much. He – according to the critics of the day – overspent for Quentin Richardson and Steve Nash in his first offseason as team owner, but has kept his checkbook closely guarded in the years since. He wanted to deny you, the fans of all ages, the entire 2011-12 NBA season, just because he and several other NBA owners were terrible at their jobs.

And now he wants to tell you – by data, the sorts that are reading an NBA blog on a Monday – that you millennial-types are shiftless when you’re idle. Because of a phone or something.

Millennials might come off as a mustache-twirlin’, band-I’ve-never-heard-of batch of goofies to this 35-year old lump of coal, and a phone-starin’, Quincy M.E.-never-heard-of group of punks to the generation that came before me, but they’re also going to have to deal with some stern stuff. Not only will they have to deal with the fallout of the excess of the baby boomer generation, but they’ll also be far more aware of the woes that plague this planet, way, way, more than previous generations, via their connectivity. They’re going to have to clean up our messes.

Markieff Morris is not a hill to die upon, but millennial bashing is not a crag to bash at with your crooked hands.

Robert, you mismanaged a championship-caliber team, and now you own a terrible team that nobody wants to watch. It’s not an entire generation’s fault that they’d rather be on their phones, watching what other millennials are doing with a basketball.

What are those, Robert Sarver? What are those?

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Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!