Report: Penny Sarver, wife of Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, sent messages to former employees after ESPN reported allegations

Robert Sarver's wife views it as a way to "set the record straight," but three former Phoenix Suns employees see it much differently.

ESPN reported Tuesday that Penny Sarver sent messages by phone and through her @pennstar Instagram account to the former employees, who saw them as acts of intimidation.

The messages were made after last week's ESPN report detailing allegations of racism and misogyny on the part of Robert Sarver, majority owner of the Suns and Phoenix Mercury franchises. Numerous former and current employees were sources, according to the article.

Sarver's wife denies she was trying to intimidate anyone.

"Over the weekend, I decided on my own to reach out to a few people to try to set the record straight and to share how disappointed and hurt I am by the lies that are circulating about my husband and the Suns organization," Penny Sarver told ESPN. "I shared the betrayal that I felt and I touched on some of the pain that we are going through as a family. Any suggestion that I tried to 'intimidate' anyone is as silly as it is wrong and outrageous."

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The NBA has started its investigation of Sarver and the organization after last week's report, which described Sarver's behavior as creating a "toxic" work environment during his 17-year tenure as team owner. Sarver has strongly denied the accusations and said he welcomed the NBA investigation.

One message has Penny Sarver calling a former employee "bitter" about bridges being burned between the two, according to ESPN.

Robert and Penny Sarver in 2016.
Robert and Penny Sarver in 2016.

"I want to remind you that real lives are at stake here," she wrote. ESPN said it had reviewed the messages, which were confirmed by the former employees.

The message continues with a reference to former Suns coach Earl Watson, who in the initial story told ESPN that Robert Sarver used the N-word several times after a game while in the coach's room while questioning why Golden State's Draymond Green was allowed to use the word during the game without any repercussions. The story recounted other instances in which Sarver allegedly used the word.

"Please put your hatred aside and realize the hurt you are causing by spreading lies and fabrications," Penny Sarver wrote. "Is your time in the spotlight that important? If something happens to one of my children, I will hold you and Earl Watson personally responsible. Think about your own child for a second and imagine the tables turned."

In a message to a second former employee, she wrote, "I am so terribly saddened that you would say such untrue things about my husband. Your interpretation of what happened is so far from the truth. You are crushing my families (sic) lives. Thanks for that."

She called the person "a liar" and wrote, "In your trying to destroy my husband with (your) lies — you have destroyed my family and children."

The former employees took those messages as acts of intimidation, the ESPN report said. One of them, who was not identified in the story, told ESPN, "I don't know how to interpret it other than as a threat."

One of the former employees also told ESPN the messages were unsettling, but that they wouldn't be intimidated and are even more willing to speak to investigators about their time at the Suns working for Robert Sarver.

The NBA is having the firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz investigate Sarver and the Suns. The law firm out of New York City conducted the league's investigation into the Dallas Mavericks in 2018 and former Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling in 2014, which resulted in Sterling being banned from the NBA, fined and ultimately forced to sell the franchise.

Follow Duane Rankin on Twitter @DuaneRankin.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Penny Sarver, Robert Sarver's wife, sent messages to ex-Suns employees

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