The NBA is aware of a video that shows Suns owner Robert Sarver making sexually explicit jokes at a memorial “roast” in April, according to Alex Prewitt and Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated.
Sarver was recently accused of racist and misogynistic behavior in an ESPN report, and is currently under investigation by the league office.
His comments in the video in question came at a posthumous “roast” of former Suns minority owner Dick Heckman. The event was arranged by Heckman’s widow, who told Sports Illustrated that Sarver’s comments were keeping in spirit with the event and that she personally was not offended.
“It was a roast — that’s what my husband wanted,” Wendy Heckmann told SI. “He wanted everybody to laugh at his expense, basically, and tell funny stories, and that’s what everybody did.”
Sarver and the Suns have declined comment on the SI story, per Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
“It is just not who I am, and it is directly contrary to the values at the center of the Suns organization,” Sarver said in an Q&A with The Republic. “I am devastated that these false attacks are what our fans will associate with this organization that I love.”
Heckmann died at the age of 76 in October 2020 of complications from a degenerative condition similar to Parkinson’s disease, Rankin wrote.
Suns coach Monty Williams recently credited Sarver with hiring him and said the defending Western Conference champions are focusing on basketball amid the investigation.
“This is a situation where they’re going to rally around each other and hoop,” Williams said. “That’s what we do. At the same time, these aren’t comfortable situations. I understand the sensitivity of everything that’s been said or written about and expressed and it takes courage to come out and express yourself.
“And at the same time, I’m aware there are two sides to this equation.”