Robert Sarver: Phoenix Suns owner makes sex jokes in new video
Disclaimer: This story contains explicit language.
At the end of October 2020, businessman and investor Dick Heckmann died of complications from a degenerative disease similar to Parkinson’s disease. At the time, 76-year-old Heckmann was a minority owner of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. Six months later, in accordance with her wishes, Heckmann’s widow, Wendy, hosted at her Rancho Mirage, Calif., Home, which she described in her opening speech as a posthumous “roast.”
Among the praise that night was Robert Sarver, the majority owner of Suns and Mercury who, following last week’s lengthy ESPN report that sparked an NBA investigation, is accused of misogyny, racism and creation of a toxic work environment in Phoenix. (In statements, Sarver has denied most of the allegations.) A month after the event, at the request of Wendy Heckmann, Sarver’s executive assistant sent a link to download a full recording to nearly two dozen members. ownership group and some of their spouses, according to a screenshot of the email obtained by Illustrated sports.
This July, TrueHoopHenry Abbott has posted text excerpts from Sarver’s speech, as well as a short music video. But the entire nine-minute, 35-second streak of Sarver’s remarks, which SI obtained on Tuesday, has not been public until now.
In it, Sarver begins by referring to an ongoing Suns home game, in which the team are heavily downsized to Spurs in the third quarter, and how Heckmann would likely be unhappy with the score. “He’s up there somewhere in his orange hat, watching the games and probably having sex with Kobe Bryant somewhere up there,” Sarver says. He then moves on to a series of sexually explicit jokes and anecdotes. These included:
- References to the sexual exploits of Heckmann’s sons: “We just bought the team in June 2004. My biggest concerns were ticket sales, sponsorship income, trying to recruit players, getting a winning record – what I really know is that my biggest concern was the Heckmann boys making their way into the cheerleader squad.
- Stories about Heckmann’s sex life, including one involving former Suns greats Steve Nash: “Dick was chasing anything that moved in Scottsdale. And speaking of… someone said he left his DNA. He left his DNA in Steve Nash’s socks somewhere in the locker room.
- Sarver said Heckmann liked to brag about how often he had sex: “Dick would say he had sex 10 times a day. Without medication. … and I finally figured it out was the calculation of Dick’s sex. So when he said “10 times” [Sarver thrusts] what he meant was like going in and out five times; it was 10 times for Dick.
- At one point, Sarver turned his gaze to someone in the crowd, seemingly on the phone and not paying attention. “This guy has an imaginary market going on here at three in the morning, damn. Are you merging in a SPAC, or lining up a whore there? What are you doing? It’s a fucking memorial service. You fucking idiot, Jesus Christ. I guess her receptionist has small breasts. But, he has no idea; he just drinks his wine.
Made aware of this story Tuesday night, neither the Suns nor Sarver chose to comment. An NBA spokesperson told SI the league was aware of the video.
Heckmann’s widow Wendy told SI on Tuesday that Sarver’s remarks were in keeping with the spirit of the event and did not offend him. “It was a roast, that’s what my husband wanted,” said Wendy Heckmann when contacted by phone. “He wanted everyone to laugh the hard way, basically, and tell funny stories, and that’s what everyone did.” She added, referring to the allegations reported against Sarver, “He’s not the Robert I know. Robert is a very good person and I’ve never heard him say anything derogatory or anything. with some sort of racial flair or sexist flair or whatever – he never did that in my presence.
A theme repeated in the ESPN report was that Suns employees said Sarver’s brand of humor offended or made them uncomfortable – that what he found funny, they found demeaning. The comments in his roast raise similar concerns, according to a current member of the Suns organization who first saw the video as circulated within the franchise.
“I would characterize [the video] as inappropriate, outrageous and consistent with Robert Sarver’s behavior over the years, ”the person told SI. By distributing the video within the Suns organization, the person added, delivered a clear message: “That this behavior is not unacceptable for others to follow.”
Towards the end of his remarks, Sarver reflects on his journey with Heckmann during their 17 years of ownership – starting when their group bought the franchise for an NBA record $ 401 million – before addressing the family. of Heckmann (who signed a statement last week, alongside 11 other minority Suns owners, supporting Sarver against the allegations).
“Look at how good you’ve all been,” Sarver said. “I never would have believed it, to be honest with you. I mean, you’re married. You have children. You have a family. You have a business. You earn money. It’s a fucking miracle, really. Compared to where you started 17 years ago, it’s amazing. Yeah, I mean we’re lucky we still own the franchise. In today’s environment, we would have lost it a long time ago.
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SI is posting the full video of Sarver’s remarks so readers can make up their own minds. Read the full transcript here.