Best Professional Sports Executive - 2010
Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver
Why? Because he's the smartest. He wouldn't give Amar'e Stoudemire the huge contract he demanded. Everybody likes to rag on Robert Sarver because he let a superstar go, but he made a sound business — as well as sports — decision. Though Amar'e was capable of 40-point, 20-rebound nights, he rarely produced on the rebounding side of the equation. Plus, he was a lousy defender — always seemed lost out there. The buzz-phrase was: He "lacked focus." Whatever. Giving top money to someone who's less than a superstar doesn't make sense. Superstars do everything Amar'e did, plus play solid D. It also didn't make sense to bet on the often-injured STAT to last through a five-year, $100 million contract, which is what the New York Knicks gave him — despite nobody being willing to insure him. The reason is that he had microscopic surgery on his left knee in 2005 and detached-retina surgery in 2009. Because of his health issues, the 27-year-old was limited to only three 82-game seasons in his eight-year career. Sarver's righteous hang-up with keeping Amar'e was the fifth year of the contract — Sarver wasn't willing to guarantee it because of Amar'e's health issues. But once Stoudemire headed north, Sarver didn't sit around doing nothing. He brought in two young, promising power forwards to replace him, plus veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu. He also gave forward-center Channing Frye a new contract for bench strength in the frontcourt. The Suns will be fine without a guy who was always carping about deserving max money. Our prediction is they will again challenge the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. If that happens, you won't be complaining anymore that Sarver's a banking mogul caught up in the recession who was too cheap to keep a superstar. He'll be a superhero in a suit.