Written by Tremaine Jasper, Owner of PhxSoul.com
When Jamil Jasper woke up on the morning on November 21, he couldn’t have dreamed that this day would be one of the best days of his life.
Jamil is my handsome, intelligent 10-year-old son. He is much like all boys his age.
Jamil loves to play video games, loves Pokemon, he’s a great student and takes a lot of pride in being a big brother to his three-year-old sister, Zara.
I invited Jamil, his friend Joseph and his father Joseph, to attend a Suns game at Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix on November 21.
This wasn’t just any game though. The Phoenix Suns, The Arizona Informant Newspaper, Greater Phoenix Urban League and the NAACP were honoring civil rights icon Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. during the game. We were invited by local business leader Alan “AP” Powell to celebrate with Chavis in the Ring of Honor suite at the arena.
Jamil was excited because he knew we’d be getting free food, drinks and we’d see his favorite NBA team in action against the Denver Nuggets. What WE didn’t know is all of the EXTRA special excitement that would happen at the game!
Upon entering the suite, Jamil was immediately greeted by none other than Robert Sarver, owner of the Phoenix Suns.
Dozens of people were already in the suite when we arrived but Sarver seemed genuinely excited to see Jamil walk through the door!
Sarver asked, “Hey young man, what’s your name? How old are you?”
“I’m Jamil, I’m 10 years old,” my son responded.
“Hey Jamil, this is the owner of the Suns,” I said.
We shook hands and then he asked Jamil if he liked basketball.
“Oh yeah but I need to practice more.”
We mingled with other guests, got our food and watched most of the game.
I’ve attended many Suns games in the past but never had the opportunity to meet Sarver. I talked to him during the second half about my PhxSoul.com business, and how I had hosted several Suns group nights in the past.
Obviously the NBA investigation regarding claims of racism and misogyny against Sarver was the elephant in the room but everyone in the room seemed genuinely glad to interact with him.
I asked Sarver how he was handling the allegations. I won’t reveal the exact conversation word for word but Sarver said he is extremely hurt by the allegations. The emotion on his face showed he was in a tremendous amount of pain.
Sarver strikes me as a powerful man, who has worked hard for all that he has amassed, but has benefitted from some privilege too. Sarver didn’t get to the top by being friendly with everyone. I am certain that because of his powerful position, he rarely hears the word, “No” from people in his circle. In addition, I’m sure he has said a few inappropriate things to people regarding matters of race and gender. I was definitely taken aback after reading some of the claims by former Suns coach Earl Watson.
I am anxiously waiting the results of the NBA investigation, but do I believe he deserves to have his ownership of the Phoenix Suns yanked away? Not based on what I’ve read.
I’m sure that many people will give me the sideeye after reading this column, but I need to see more evidence from “named sources” before I decide to crucify this man.
OK let me get off my soapbox and get back to my 10-year-old son’s experience.
Toward the end of the game, a friend told me that “Larry” is here and my son can take a photo with him. At first, I thought, “Larry who?” and then Jamil said, “Larry Fitzgerald?”
Sure enough, it was the greatest player to rock an Arizona Cardinals uniform! Fitzgerald is a minority owner for the Suns and a Sarver supporter.
Sarver ushered Jamil and Joseph over to Larry and they cheesed for the cameras!
Then Sarver asked Jamil and Joseph if they wanted to play basketball after the game!
Sarver escorted the four of us – me, Jamil, young Joseph and dad Joseph – to the Footprint Center basketball court!
Wow! I expected to see a bunch of kids on the floor but instead it was just us and some arena staff!
Jamil and Joseph took shots with Sarver for about five minutes. There were a lot of bricks but Sarver seemed to have fun. He even advised my son to bend at the knees when he shoots the ball before he said goodbye to us.
In spite of the controversy that surrounds Sarver, I was truly happy for my son and his friend.
How many Black children get to pal around with the owner of an NBA franchise?
Again, we’ll see what the NBA investigation reveals, but I’ll never regret letting Jamil just be a kid with one of the most powerful people in the world of sports!
What an amazing experience for my son and his friend!