Wendy Heckmann: "It was a roast."

"No one laughed harder than me" at Robert Sarver's comments


Earlier, TrueHoop published video of Suns billionaire Robert Sarver saying outrageous-sounding things at a memorial service for his former business partner Richard “Dick” Heckmann. One person who attended the event found it “outrageous.” Another found it “offensive.” One said Sarver was “out of control.” There have been several similar responses from people who have seen the video and know Sarver. 

One of the oddest aspects of Sarver’s bawdy sex talk about Heckmann was that it all took place in front of his wife, Wendy. 

Who called me, out of the blue, a few hours after the video posted on Friday, to say we had the context all wrong. What we missed, she says: it was, in addition to a memorial service, a roast.

First of all, let’s consider the terrible year Wendy has just had. A pandemic, a terrible ALS-like disease, a death on Halloween, and a family to hold together. I can’t imagine. (And, frankly, I hate to be part of making her year worse, and she seemed … bothered by the hubbub of the Sarver video.) She agreed to explain:

Can you tell me a bit more about the event? It was at your house? 
It was a Luau-themed party because my husband loved Hawaii very much. Or, more accurately, it was a Luau-themed roast.

It’s what he wanted. As you mentioned, he’ll be buried in Arlington. But he didn’t want a funeral service, he didn’t want anything heavy, he wanted a lot of laughter. He wanted to bring joy to everybody, he didn’t want to bring sadness.

How did it go?
It was wonderful. Everybody laughed. We all got to laugh. Obviously tears of sadness. But also tears of laughter and remembrance. He wanted us to be laughing at his expense. If you knew him, he was the world’s biggest jokester. 

Those stories are kind of true, but everybody embellished. 

I guess I wonder, for instance, if I’m Steve Nash, do I worry about that sock? Did that really happen?
Steve Nash wanted to be there, but he had a game he was coaching the next night. Grant Hill, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire—they all really loved Dick, and all our partners, Larry Fitzgerald … Robert is our managing partner. He’s the one who brought Dick into the partnership. 

Robert did a great job. He’s a great guy, he loved Dick a lot.

I guess when people see that video of Robert Sarver’s talk, you’re the person they’re most worried about. But you’re saying we have it all wrong. Explain.
No, because it was a joke. If you knew my husband, my husband was a jokester, I wasn’t upset, I think I laughed harder than anyone. They shouldn’t be worried about me, I take it all very well. My husband wasn’t some … whatever they say he was. Everything was embellished. 

If I thought it was true, of course I would be upset. Because I know it’s not, it can be funny.

Who else spoke? What kind of stuff did they say?
All of my stepchildren, my daughters, Dan Quayle, Richie Jenkins gave a beautiful eulogy. There were lots of really funny things, all for the laugh factor.

There have been Suns events at your house before, right?
Yes. We had an outdoor exhibition game in Indian Wells tennis gardens, and we hosted a Suns party with partners, team people, donors. My husband helped orchestrate that. It was a lot of fun.

Can you help us understand Robert? I have been hearing from a lot of people who know him who say, in effect, that he talks like this often.
I’m not here to speak for Robert. I’ve never heard him say thing crazy things. He’s a kind, sweet, funny, generous man. A very kind man. He has a beautiful family, wife, boys. I’m not here to defend Robert, but I’ve never heard him say crazy, off-the-wall things.

How did you meet him?
I met him through my husband. They were business associates. 

Did people know it was being recorded?
Yes, I have the whole video.

When you say Dan Quayle was there, you’re talking about the former vice president?My husband was one of his best friends.

What else would you like to add?
This is a happy time for us. Nobody loved the Suns more than us. This is what Dick always wanted. It’s sad the year he passed is the year we’re going all the way.

Thank you for reading TrueHoop.