As long as Robert Sarver is leading the Phoenix Suns, PayPal will not partner with the organization.
PayPal, the longtime sponsor of the Suns and Mercury and whose patch is featured on the teams' jersey, announced Friday that it would not renew its sponsorship deal in light of Sarver’s one-year suspension for racist and misogynistic remarks and other workplace misconduct.
PayPal’s current deal is set to expire after the 2022-23 season, meaning the Suns will still wear the jersey patch this season.
“PayPal is a values-driven company and has a strong record of combatting racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination,” PayPal said in a statement. “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 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 first struck a deal with the Suns and Mercury in 2018. According to ESPN, the deal with the Suns was worth $3 million last season.
Kia, another longtime Suns partner, also issued a statement on Friday saying that it respected the “NBA and WNBA’s position” after the investigation into Sarver.
The NBA suspended Sarver from all league activities for one year and fined him $10 million after the lengthy investigation into the owner found that he used the N-word at least five times, demeaned and bullied female employees and made inappropriate physical contact with male employees, among other things.
Sarver can return for the 2023-24 season. Vice chairman Sam Garvin will serve as the team’s interim governor in Sarver’s absence.
There has been significant blowback from the league’s decision to only suspend Sarver, especially after the NBA forced former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell his team in 2014 after similar incidents. Suns veteran Chris Paul and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James both called on Sarver to be removed, and Suns minority owner Jahm Najafi — who owns the second-largest stake in the team behind Sarver — called on him to sell the franchise on Thursday night.