Mat Ishbia completes purchase of Phoenix Suns, Mercury
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — A new chapter for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury officially started on Tuesday when the team announced its new owner. Mat Ishbia has assumed controlling ownership interest, after the announcement he would take over the professional basketball franchises. The NBA’s board of governors approved his plan on Monday to purchase the controlling stake of the Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury from embattled owner Robert Sarver. He paid an estimated $4 billion for the teams.
“This is the culmination of a lifelong dream. I love the game of basketball deeply but it’s so much more than that for me.” Ishbia said in a prepared news release. “Throughout my life, basketball has given me a second family, an education, and so much joy. I am honored to be the next steward of this community’s franchises in the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury and am totally committed to building an incredible organization on and off the floor.”
Ishbia is a big name in the financial world as he is chairman, president, and chief executive of United Wholesale Mortgage, which bills itself as the nation’s largest mortgage lender. Forbes recently listed Ishbia’s net worth at $5.1 billion. He also has ties to basketball, as he played point guard at Michigan State University from 1999-2002. He was part of the 2000 NCAA national championship team. He also worked as a student assistant coach for a year with the team after graduating.
Ishbia becomes governor of the Suns and Mercury while his brother, Justin Ishbia, is now the second-largest shareholder and alternate governor. Tap/click for full details on the sale. The announcement came after Phoenix Suns president and CEO Jason Rowley reportedly stepped down from his position. According to ESPN, governor Sam Garvin told staff members through an email. Rowley joined the team in 2007 and became president and CEO of the Suns in 2012. But when ESPN published a story uncovering misconduct allegations surrounding Sarver, it also included other executives, including Rowley.
The NBA suspended Sarver in September for one year, plus fined him $10 million after an investigation found he had engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.” Sarver’s suspension came nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents over his nearly two-decade tenure overseeing the franchise.
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