Posted on: October 5, 2022, 02:09h.
Last updated on: October 5, 2022, 04:32h.
Robert Sarver is putting the Phoenix Suns up for sale. The team is expected to fetch a record-setting price for an NBA franchise of at least $2.5 billion, thanks to a bidding war among Bob Iger, Larry Ellison, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Jeff Bezos.
Forbes valued the Suns at $1.8 billion, which is ranked #18 out of all 30 NBA teams. Forbes estimates the sale price of the Suns will surpass the previous record of $2.35 billion paid for the Brooklyn Nets.
Billionaire Joe Tasi purchased the Nets in 2019, eclipsing the previous sales record of $2.2 billion when Tilman Fertitta bought the Houston Rockets in 2017.
NBA Franchises – Top Sales Prices
- Brooklyn Nets $2.35 billion (2019)
- Houston Rockets $2.2 billion (2017)
- Los Angeles Clippers $2 billion (2010)
When Donald Sterling sold the Los Angeles Clippers in 2010, Steve Ballmer swooped in and purchased the team for an astonishing $2 billion. At the time, the price tag seemed outrageous for an NBA team.
Moelis & Company to Handle Suns Sale
The NBA suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million after an investigation into serious allegations of a toxic workplace and racist language. During Sarver’s 17-year tenure as the Suns’ owner, the organization was reportedly a hotbed of racism and misogyny.
When corporate sponsors and other advertisers began severing ties with the Suns, Sarver announced his intention to sell both the Suns and the Phoenix Mercury from the WNBA. He’s the majority owner of both franchises.
In 2004, Sarver purchased the Suns from former owner Jerry Colangelo for $401 million. The sale set a record price for an NBA franchise at the time.
Moelis and Company is an investment bank overseeing the Suns’ sale. Most recently, Moelis facilitated the sale of the legendary Chelsea Football Club for $5.3 billion.
Moelis also has experience with selling an NBA franchise. In 2014, Moelis assisted with the sale of the Atlanta Hawks. Tony Ressler spearheaded a group that purchased the Hawks for $850 million.
Iger, Bezos, Ellison All Want the Suns
Bob Iger, the former CEO of Disney, is among the potential list of buyers. Iger has always wanted to own an NBA franchise and ties to Suns’ point guard Chris Paul. Iger became a close confidant of Paul and a business mentor when Paul played with the L.A. Clippers.
Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal said he’d like a shot at buying the Suns. O’Neal had a short stint with the Suns during the 2008-09 season. TMZ reported that O’Neal is open to joining Jeff Bezos from Amazon to buy the Suns.
It’s not every day that an NBA team is up for sale, which is why the Suns will spark a bidding war with some of the wealthiest people in the world, inflating the final sale price. Ramona Shelburne from ESPN estimated the Suns would be sold for at least $3 billion. During an episode of the Bill Simmons podcast, Simmons suggested an excessive estimated sale price of $4 billion.
This evaluation is going to go way higher than people think,” said Simmons. “I told you this with the Clippers eight years ago, and I’m telling you now. The Suns are going to be valued at over $4 billion.”
Other interested buyers in the Suns include Larry Ellison from Oracle. Ellison whiffed on previous attempts to buy other franchises, including the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzles, and New Orleans Pelicans.
Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs from Apple fame, already owns a minority stake in the Washington Wizards. Powell Jobs would have to sell her share of the Wizards if she wants to purchase the Suns.
Steve Cohen from SAC Capital inspired the role of Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series “Billions.” Cohen already owns the New York Mets and is interested in buying a piece of the Suns.