PayPal says it will end Phoenix Suns jersey sponsorship unless owner resigns

PayPal’s jersey patch partnership with the NBA team is set to expire at the end of the year, and the company is threatening to not renew it if suspended owner Robert Sarver remains affiliated with the franchise.

Image of basketball player Mikal Bridges.
Mykal Bridges suits up for the Phoenix Suns, who are sponsored by PayPal. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

SAN JOSE, CA: PayPal said in a statement on Wednesday that it will not renew its jersey sponsorship of the Phoenix Suns if owner Robert Sarver remains involved with the organization.

Sarver was recently suspended for one year by the NBA and fined $10 million. He had been accused of making racist and misogynist comments on numerous occasions. 

“PayPal is a values-driven company and has a strong record of combatting racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination,” it said in a statement.

According to an NBA statement on Tuesday, Sarver used the N-word on at least five occasions during his time with the Phoenix Suns and WNBA team the Phoenix Mercury. 

“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’s statement said. 

The NBA also found that Sarver “engaged in instances of inequitable conduct” and “made sex-related comments” toward female employees.

The day Sarver was suspended, Suns Legacy Partners, the holding company that owns the Suns and Mercury, tweeted a statement saying, “Suns Legacy Partners is committed to creating a safe, respectful and inclusive work environment that is free of discrimination and harassment.” It added that Sarver is “taking responsibility for his actions.”

Part of the statement was attributed to Sarver himself. It read, “Good leadership requires accountability. While I disagree with some of the particulars of the NBA’s report, I would like to apologize for my words and actions that offended our employees.”

NBA stars including LeBron James and Suns’ point guard Chris Paul have expressed disappointment with Sarver’s punishment. Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi, who owns the second-largest stake in the team, has also called for Sarver’s resignation. 

In a similar situation more than two years ago, FedEx told the National Football League team then known as the Washington Redskins that unless it changed its branding, the company would remove signage from its home field. FedEx has naming rights for the team’s stadium in suburban Maryland. 

The Redskins temporarily rebranded as the Washington Football Team, before switching its name to the Washington Commanders this season. 

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