Robert Sarver is the managing partner of Arizona’s original sports franchise. In addition, the Arizona native and Valley resident is a successful businessman and a committed philanthropist, husband and father with a lifelong passion for basketball, the Suns, the state of Arizona, and—above all—winning.
As an 8-year-old boy, Robert Sarver attended his first Phoenix Suns basketball game after receiving tickets as a birthday gift from Donald Diamond, one of the franchise’s original owners. Thirty-five years later in 2004, Sarver became the majority owner of one of the NBA’s model franchises, assembling a group of investors that purchased the Suns, the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, and the operating rights to Footprint Center.
In ten years under Sarver’s leadership, the Suns have enjoyed virtually unparalleled success on the court. Phoenix owns the fourth-best record in the NBA since the start of the 2004-05 season (478-326, .595). His tenure includes three appearances in the Western Conference Finals and two of the three 60-win seasons in the franchise’s 46-year history.
Sarver’s passion for winning extends beyond the men’s game. His commitment to the WNBA in Phoenix has resulted in the Mercury winning three league championships in 2007, 2009 and 2014, with the team winning a WNBA-record 29 games in the 2014 regular season. The Mercury have made six Western Conference Finals appearances in the last eight seasons. Over the last ten seasons, the Mercury’s record of 185-155 ranks it fifth in the League.
Guided by his stated mission, the Suns and Mercury organizations are industry leaders in business innovation and community outreach and involvement.
Sarver is a member of the NBA’s Board of Governors, Advisory Finance Committee, and Audit and Compensation Committee.
Sarver is the Executive Chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation, the largest financial institution headquartered in Arizona. The bank continues to be one of the most active business lenders in Arizona.
Sarver is the co-founder of Southwest Value Partners, a 25-year-old real estate investment fund. He has served as a director of SkyWest Airlines since 2000 and Phoenix-based Meritage Corporation since 1996.
Sarver’s philanthropic efforts focus not simply on worthy causes but also giving back to Arizona and its local communities, both through Phoenix Suns Charities and his and his wife’s own personal contributions.
Under Sarver’s leadership, The Suns and Phoenix Suns Charities have given almost $15 million in donations to local non-profits. And, most notably, Sarver has spear-headed SunsCentral, the team’s ‘adoption’ of an inner-city high school in an effort to dramatically affect the graduation rate of the neighborhood school.
Among his proudest accomplishments, Sarver helped to build the Sarver Heart Center at the University of Arizona in memory of his late father, who was among the first to undergo heart bypass surgery. The center is composed of more than 150 physicians and scientists and aims to prevent and cure cardiovascular diseases through the three pillars of research, education and patient care. Pioneering doctors at the center have spearheaded the development of the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart, an award-winning project that became the world’s first and only total artificial heart to win FDA approval as a bridge to human heart transplant in patients near death from heart failure.
Doctors and researchers at the center developed a hands-only CPR method called Continuous Chest Compression CPR that more than doubles a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest. This method was adopted by the American Heart Association and is now internationally recognized. In addition to a focus on resuscitation science, the center focuses on stroke research, heart disease in women, sudden cardiac death, minority-specific cardiovascular problems, and electrophysiology.
The Sarvers were also instrumental in helping to build the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, located in downtown Phoenix. A $1 million donation from the Penny and Robert Sarver Charitable Foundation aided in the completion of the 70,000-square-foot facility.
Sarver is on the board of directors for the Weil Foundation, established by Dr. Andrew Weil, an internationally recognized leader in integrative medicine.
Sarver is a 1979 graduate of Sabino High School in Tucson and a 1982 graduate of the University of Arizona. Sarver earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration, and became a certified public accountant in 1983.
Sarver and wife Penny have three sons, Max, Jake and Zach. On their first date, Robert invited Penny to watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at his house. Sarver is a “soccer dad,” who can regularly be found at one of his three boys’ soccer games.