The past 48 hours has been a roller coaster ride for the Phoenix Suns organization, their fan base, and those who follow the NBA. After a year long investigation into the conduct Suns of majority owner Robert Sarver relative to his conduct within the organization, he has been suspended for one year from both the Suns and the Phoenix Mercury, as well as find $10 million for his repeated use of derogatory racial slurs, inappropriate comments in the workplace, and misogynistic behavior.
The ethical debate has been fueled by the penalty — or lack thereof — Sarver has received. The news extends outside of sport as it brings to light issues that unfortunately can be commonplace in many work environments. Behavior such as this, especially from somebody who is a leader, is abhorrent, disgusting, and unacceptable. To know that Sarver can return to this organization is something that, at least in the views of this writer, should not be allowed to happen. But it will.
Sarver had a hand in choosing who would serve as the interim governor of the team during his absence. As our own Dave King noted in his most recent piece, “Why is the NBA allowing this to happen? Because, I suspect, they’ve promised him that the team will be waiting for him a year from now and he’s convinced them that the ‘wrong’ person could cause a mutiny that Sarver won’t like.”
Who is his temporary replacement? Enter Sam Garvin.
Phoenix Suns vice chairman and minority owner Sam Garvin has been appointed the interim governor of the team during majority owner Robert Sarver's one-year suspension, sources tell ESPN.— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) September 15, 2022
Who is Sam Garvin?
Sam Garvin has been a part of the Suns’ ‘Legacy Partners’ ownership group since June of 2004, purchasing interest in the team the same time as Robert Sarver.
From his NBA.com bio:
The self-made entrepreneur founded Scottsdale-based Continental Promotion Group in 1989 and its business grew to over $1 billion in annual gross revenues and attracted over 500 blue-chip marketers worldwide. As chairman and chief executive officer from 1989-2005, he managed over 1,200 associates, and organized and executed consumer and trade promotions for Dell, Nestle, Henkel, Costco, BT (British Telecom), HP, Motorola, Disney and Eli Lilly on a global scale.
Garvin, who sold CPG in June 2005, took on additional responsibilities with the Suns shortly thereafter.
A Suns fan since 1989, Garvin purchased single-game tickets in the upper bowl when the team played at Veterans Memorial Coliseum and has attended Suns games for the last 25 years. In July 2007, he was appointed an alternate NBA Governor to represent the organization.
Prior to CPG, Garvin served in the Ronald Reagan administration as a staff assistant on the Presidential Commission for the German-American Tri-Centennial. He then went to work for merchandiser where he learned the marketing of packaged goods from the ground up. In 1988, he graduated from Thunderbird, one of the top business schools in the country, with a masters of international management specializing in marketing. In 2003, he was awarded a doctor of international law degree, honoris causa, from Thunderbird.
In 1998, Garvin was recognized by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of Arizona’s “Top 40 under 40” most influential business leaders. In 1999, he was recognized by then Arizona Governor Jane Hull with the “Governor’s Spirit of Success” award. He was twice nominated for Ernst and Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
Garvin will now be the individual who controls the money-related decisions for the Phoenix Suns. If James Jones wants to pull the trigger on any major deal, it is Garvin who will ultimately approve it.
We shouldn't expect to see much roster movement for the Suns moving forward. Garvin has most likely been selected by Sarver to maintain the ship and has assumedly been instructed to avoid rash decisions that could affect the team's financial interests long-term. If you had your hopes hi on the Suns pursuing players such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, you might want to save those for next year.
It will be interesting to see how the organization navigates the trade deadline this season. If the team is in need of an upgrade or is trying to move off a deal like Jae Crowder’s, James Jones’ job just became a little more tougher as he attempts to sell Garvin on his roster improvement plans.
For the people who all were truly affected by the misconduct of Robert Sarver, the hope is that Garvin brings relief, stability, and a strong supportive culture to the Suns organization. We can’t forget them, and we can’t allow them get lost in the midst of it all. They were the ones who suffered during Starvers’ regime. This is a chance to change the culture and propel the organization forward.
It is not a time to move on from what has occurred, rather, it is a time to embrace the change that is necessary to truly become a successful organization. And that is the job that lies before Sam Garvin.