Before he chose the San Antonio Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge was heavily considering the Phoenix Suns as his free agency destination. The two teams were frontrunners to land the then four-time NBA All-Star, and it's looking like he dodged several headaches by choosing the Alamo City.
In the summer of 2015, Suns owner Robert Sarver believed his team and the Spurs were the only options really being considered by LaMarcus Aldridge, and he knew Phoenix was at a disadvantage.
"I learned that part of his decision to go to San Antonio was because he had family connections there," said Sarver through his legal team to ESPN. The remark was one of many rebuttals to a lengthy story by ESPN Senior Writer Baxter Holmes.
In the piece from Thursday morning, Holmes compiles various stories from more than 70 former and current Suns employees to describe the 17-year ownership tenure of Sarver as full of racism and misogyny. I highly encourage giving it a read to hear both sides of the accusations.
Holmes recounted more about Sarver's comments as they recruited Aldridge, as told by basketball operations staffers.
"The team knew that Aldridge had young children in Texas and that playing near them was appealing," the article said. "During the recruitment, Sarver remarked to two basketball operations staffers that the Suns needed to have local strippers impregnated by NBA players so those players would have children in the Phoenix area and feel obliged to be closer to them, giving the Suns a potential edge in free agency."
In a letter through his legal team, Sarver denied he made the comment completely.
"The answer is a categorical, no. I never said anything like that. Period. Aldridge was debating whether to play for us or San Antonio. I learned that part of his decision to go to San Antonio was because he had family connections there."
I'll let you be the judge of the comments for yourself -- that's not my place. In reading the rest of the article, though, there are several allegations that are much worse.
Many similar comments in the story are completely denied by Sarver. He plays other remarks off as bad jokes while acknowledging and apologizing for other accusations, like the time he pulled down the pants of an employee at a work event.
True or not and joke or not, the comments certainly don't reflect anything close to the culture of the Spurs, and it's a good thing such a stand-up guy like Aldridge ultimately chose them.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on NBA Today, we can expect the NBA to announce a league investigation into the Suns and their ownership that could take some time.