'The walls were closing in': Inside the seven days that led to Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver's stunning exit

Suns owner Robert Sarver announced on Sept. 21 his plans to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, just seven days after NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned him for one year and fined him $10 million. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

IT LOOKS FOR all the world like a glorious, carefree day at the Silverleaf Country Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The setting for the charity golf tournament benefiting Phoenix Suns stars Chris Paul's and Devin Booker's foundations -- the private, Tom Weiskopf-designed course in the canyons of the McDowell Mountains -- is Phoenix high life at its finest.

Julius Erving is there. So are PGA pro Jon Rahm and former Cleveland Cavalier JR Smith. Golf carts buzz through the majestic Sonoran Desert. Don Julio 1942 trophies are handed out to the winning foursome, led by Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi. Paul and his wife, Jada, are seen dancing at the end of the night.

But pictures can tell only part of the story. Or, in this case, a reel viewed by more than 339,000 of Paul's 11.5 million Instagram followers.

There is no mention of the allegations around Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver. No acknowledgement of what they'd all learned that morning on the way to the golf course, that Sarver had reluctantly decided to sell his franchises in the wake of a 10-month NBA investigation into allegations of racism and misogyny within the organizations as published in a November 2021 ESPN article.

Not even a hint of the chaos that had been going on behind the scenes: a high-stakes, multibillion-dollar game of chicken -- one that Paul, Booker and various power brokers around the league had participated in, which finally convinced Sarver to sell his franchises instead of fight the one-year suspension levied on him by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

No, the reel Paul posted the following morning is mostly just a vibe: Paul and Booker enjoying one last carefree day before training camp opens and they have a chance to avenge their second-round playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

But there is one hint at how Paul felt about the situation embedded within the post. The title of the song playing over all those happy photos?

"Detox," by Lil Baby.