PayPal threatens to end partnership with Phoenix Suns if owner Sarver returns

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver is interviewed after Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Western Conference Finals on June 30, 2021 at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.

Andrew D. Bernstein | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

PayPal, the shirt sponsor for the Phoenix Suns, has warned that it will cut ties with the team if owner Robert Sarver remains associated with the organization after his one-year suspension.

Sarver was suspended from the league and fined $10 million after an investigation revealed he made inappropriate comments to employees and repeated the “N” word multiple times.

PayPal, the team’s main sponsor, is asking the team to take disciplinary action after a one-year suspension. PayPal and the Suns entered into a sponsorship deal in 2018 that included a jersey patch and included the integration of the fintech company’s payment methods into the team’s arena and ticket sales.

“PayPal’s sponsorship with the Suns expires at the end of the current season,” said CEO Dan Shulman. statement released on Friday. “In light of the results of the NBA’s investigation, we will not be renewing our sponsorship if Robert Sarver remains associated with the Suns after serving his sentence.”

Sarver’s $10 million fine is the highest allowed under the NBA’s bylaws, but the league has handed out more significant suspensions in the past. Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the league after making a racist comment. The disqualification forced him to sell the team.

PayPal joins several NBA players and the players’ association in saying Sarver’s punishment isn’t far enough, including Suns star Chris Paul.

“I believe sanctions have failed to truly address what we all agree was violent behavior,” Paul tweeted on Thursday. “My heart goes out to all those affected.”

His comments came after Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James on Wednesday said “the league was definitely wrong” and Tamika Tremalho, chief executive of the NBA Players Association, said: “Mr. Sarver should never be in a leadership position in our league.” again.”

CNBC has reached out to the Suns and its major sponsors for comment.

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