BY HENRY ABBOTT
NOTE: This post contains language many will find offensive.
When former United States Filter CEO Richard (Dick) Heckmann passed away last Halloween, after suffering from an ALS-like degenerative condition, many people around the Phoenix Suns were crushed. A larger-than-life figure who had been part of Robert Sarver’s ownership group since 2004, Heckmann loved sitting courtside in an orange Suns jacket and hat. Many team events had been held at the Heckmann house in Rancho Mirage, about halfway between Phoenix and Los Angeles, near Palm Springs.
Because of the COVID lockdown, the Heckmann family didn’t immediately invite people over to remember Dick. It was Saturday, April 17, 2021 when his widow Wendy opened her home to family and friends. Heckmann left a lot of family: he and Wendy had two daughters, Mia and Madison. With his ex-wife Mary, Heckmann raised Tom, Scott, Brock, Todd, and Jessica—who have nine grandchildren between them.
There was a little plexiglass lectern where people took turns eulogizing. There’s no way to know what most of them said, but the obituary his family published in the Deseret Sun demonstrates a certain tone:
Dick would say his greatest achievement was the close-knit family that he leaves behind. A perfect Saturday afternoon for him would be hanging out with his children, with the grandchildren bopping around, watching a Notre Dame football game. He never missed a t-ball game, soccer game, wrestling match or football game for any of his children and was a great coach himself.
While being a great father, husband, and businessman, Dick also found time to mentor many high school children and young adults. He was very giving with his time and always ready for an in-depth conversation about how to succeed in life. His simple wisdom for teenagers embarking on a college career was to learn how to write effectively, communicate with anyone, read extensively and be comfortable speaking to a large group. His advice for starting a family was just as simple; it will be the best thing you ever did and appreciate every second of it.
Dick will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next year.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: After publication, we learned from Wendy Heckmann that this event was introduced as a roast.
Suns governor Robert Sarver was in Rancho Mirage to honor his friend that day, even though the Suns were playing a road game in San Antonio. About the time the third quarter was ending, it was Sarver’s turn at the lectern.
In the weeks since, video of Sarver’s comments have circulated quietly around the Suns. Video of the incident, which has been confirmed as Sarver by people who know him, begins with Sarver talking about someone off camera, who is evidently staring at a phone.
You merging on a SPAC or are you lining up a hooker over there? What are you doing? It’s a goddamned memorial service! Christ. Hahahahahah. I’m going to guess his receptionist has small tits.
That set the tone. Sarver continues:
I got to know Dick at an interesting time, right when he became single. It’s kind of uncomfortable, some of these stories but, I mean, it’s not that uncomfortable. But it’s a little uncomfortable.
But so Dick got off to a good start with me. We had just bought the team in June, 2004. My biggest concerns were, you know, ticket sales, sponsorship revenue, trying to sign some players to get a winning record.
What I really know is that my biggest concern was that the Heckmann boys were fucking their way through the cheerleading team. And Dick, and Dick, and Dick was chasing everything that moved in Scottsdale.
Speaking of: someone said he left his DNA. He did leave his DNA, in Steve Nash’s sock, somewhere in the locker room. That was about the third week after we bought the team.
Despite this being a memorial service, the portion of Sarver’s talk that TrueHoop has seen never strays far from the subject of sex. At times, Sarver seems to be speaking to Heckmann’s sons directly:
That was right about when he bought the boat. The boat, the boat was a bordello. I mean, let’s just be honest about it. The boys used to park that thing off the beach there at Cabo. There was, what was that? The Office. They’d park that thing off the Office at Cabo, and they’d come in, and bring them back. Course, Dick took great pleasure in knowing that he could get the girls before you guys could. I mean, he really took pleasure in that, that he could outmaneuver you guys.
But I remember one time where we had a little boat in San Diego and I’m driving with the family and the kids. My kids are like maybe 8, 10, and 12. And we’re driving in the harbor and we pass Dick’s boat. We stop and I go hey I’ve never been on the boat.
Well come on!
And so bring the kids on board. That was not a good idea.
Start walking around, looks a little wild. There’s a lot of people on there, a lot of drinking. I think uhhh...
“Take a look around!”
Bring the kids in, first room I open, there’s two-on-one going on. I say uhh, I think it’s probably a good idea we get the kids off the boat.
Never went on the boat after that.
Sarver followed in his father’s footsteps by spending a career in banking, and is the chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation. In addition to being the controlling investor of the Suns, Sarver also runs the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury (with players like Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, and Skylar Diggins-Smith) and the Mallorca soccer team in Spain’s second division.
The Suns will be in the NBA Finals beginning Thursday, July 8.
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