LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: Owner Robert Sarver of the Phoenix Suns is interviewed after Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 30, 2021 at STAPLES Center from Los Angeles, California.
Andrew D. Bernstein | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
PayPal, the Phoenix Suns’ jersey sponsor, warned it would cut ties with the team if owner Robert Sarver remains affiliated with the organization following his one-year suspension.
Sarver was suspended from the league and fined $10 million after an investigation revealed he had made inappropriate comments to female employees and repeated the N-word on several occasions.
PayPal, one of the team’s major sponsors, is asking the team to take disciplinary action beyond the one-year suspension. PayPal and the Suns reached a sponsorship deal in 2018 that included the jersey patch and saw the fintech company’s payment options integrated into the team’s arena and ticket sales .
“PayPal’s sponsorship with the Suns will expire at the end of the current season,” CEO Dan Schulman said in a statement released Friday. “In light of the findings of the NBA’s investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship if Robert Sarver remains involved with the Suns organization after serving his suspension.”
The $10 million fine Sarver faces is the maximum allowed under NBA bylaws, but the league has handed out more significant suspensions in the past. Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the league for life after his racist comment surfaced. The suspension forced him to sell the team.
PayPal joins several NBA players and the players’ association in saying Sarver’s punishment doesn’t go far enough, including Suns star Chris Paul.
“I am of the opinion that the sanctions did not really address what we can all agree was egregious behavior,” Paul wrote in a tweet Thursday. “My heart goes out to all the people affected.”
His comments came after Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron James said Wednesday that “the league definitely got it wrong,” and Tamika Tremaglio, the executive director of the NBA Players Association, saying that “Mr. Sarver should never hold a leadership position within our league. again.”
CNBC reached out to the Suns and their major sponsors for comment.