Controversial Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver offered a supportive reaction when team executive Ryan Resch told him that he’s gay.
During an interview with ESPN, Resch indicated that he told Sarver a couple weeks ago that he’s gay, with Sarver subsequently showing his full support.
“I hadn’t seen him or had a chance to talk to him in person for a few months after I came [out] to James [Jones] and the rest of the organization,” Resch said. “My then-boyfriend had been coming to games during that period. When I told Robert a couple of weeks ago, he was amazing. He told me, ‘I’m so happy you feel comfortable enough to live as who you are, and bring someone special to you to a game.’ We spoke about Rick Welts. The best part of the conversation was our discussion about how it’s the quality of the work that will determine my trajectory professionally in the franchise. It’s about merit.”
Sarver’s reaction may be seen as surprising, given the controversies that have plagued him since reports surfaced last year detailing alleged racist and misogynistic behavior by him. A league investigation into Sarver’s alleged behavior has yet to conclude.
Resch’s reference to Welts relates to the former Suns CEO who came out as gay in 2011 and became the NBA’s first openly gay executive.
Working in Phoenix’s basketball operations department, Resch serves as the team’s vice president of strategy and evaluation. He’s the first openly gay person to work basketball operations in an NBA front office.
Sarver’s reaction could be seen by his critics as a cynical attempt to gain favor in the NBA’s ongoing investigation. That’s because in a worst-case scenario for him, he could be forced to sell the team.
Jones, meanwhile, has offered Resch his full support and continues to serve as a mentor for the 29-year-old executive.
Last year, the Suns reached the NBA Finals, but they suffered a disappointing seven-game defeat in this season’s Western Conference semifinals.
In the end, helping the Suns capture their first NBA title certainly remains the focus of Resch and the organization.