Billionaire Mortgage Lender Mat Ishbia Finalizes Purchase of Suns
Detroit native and billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia has completed the acquisition of the Phoenix Suns for a record-setting $4 billion, resulting in the most expensive purchase ever including an NBA franchise.
The old record was set in 2019 when Joe Tsai acquired the Nets for a sum of $2.35 billion. The purchase of Ishbia represents an official exit from the position held by Robert Sarver.
The purchase includes not just the Suns but also the Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Tuesday evening, the franchise issued a statement in which it stated that the transaction also includes, “more than 50% ownership of the team including all of Robert Sarver’s interest and a portion of the interest of minority partners.”
Ishbia was referred to be the “right leader to build on the franchise legacies of winning” by Sarver, who also stated that Ishbia will “shepherd” both teams into the next phase.
“Matt [Ishbia] has exactly the right spirit, commitment and resources to pursue championships,” the statement read. “Equally important, though, is his philanthropic outlook and commitment to using sports as a way to elevate and connect people. I know he shared unwavering support for women’s basketball and I look forward to watching him become a unifying force across the Valley of the Sun.”
According to Wojnarowski’s report, Justin Ishbia, Mat Ishbia’s brother and a founding partner of Shore Capital, is also making a significant investment in the Suns. He is going to take on the role of the franchise’s alternate governor.
After being found guilty of workplace misconduct and given a one-year suspension along with a $10 million fine, Sarver made the decision in September to sell both the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury. This decision came after a league investigation found that Sarver had engaged in inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
According to the findings of the investigation, Sarver had used the n-word a minimum of five times “when recounting the statements of others” while serving as the active owner of the Suns and Mercury, The investigation also discovered that Sarver behaved in an unacceptable manner with employees on a consistent basis, including, “instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees,” which included “sex-related comments,” the NBA said in a statement. The disgraced owner did not just target women though, “inappropriate physical conduct toward male employees.” was found as well.
In November 2021, ESPN released accounts from over 70 current and former Suns employees that outlined a poisonous workplace climate under Sarver that was both racist and misogynistic. The environment was described as being in existence while Sarver was in charge of the Suns. These examples included descriptions of times when Sarver used the n-word, such as when he said he hired Lindsey Hunter as head coach in 2013 rather than Dan Majerle because of his “black” background.
In spite of the results of the investigation, the league came to the conclusion that Sarver’s actions were not “motivated by racial or gender-based animus.”
Mat Ishbia, the current Chief Executive Officer of United Wholesale Mortgage, is a former college basketball player who studied at Michigan State University from 1998 to 2002. He was a part of 3 consecutive squads that reached the Final Four, and in 2000, he won the national championship with Tom Izzo and the Spartans.
Wojnarowski claims that Ishbia has maintained a tight relationship with Tom Izzo, his former coach at Michigan State, and had previously made a commitment of $32 million to the men’s basketball team at Michigan State.
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