Mat Ishbia agrees to buy Suns, Mercury for $4 billion

Dec 19, 2022, 8:42 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 4:33 am
FILE -Former Michigan State player Mat Ishbia laughs as he are introduced along with Michigan State...

FILE -Former Michigan State player Mat Ishbia laughs as he are introduced along with Michigan State's 2000 national championship NCAA college basketball team during halftime of the Michigan State-Florida game in East Lansing, Mich. Mortgage executive Mat Ishbia has agreed in principle to buy the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury from the embattled owner Robert Sarver for $4 billion, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

(AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

Mortgage executive Mat Ishbia has agreed in principle to buy a majority stake of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury from the embattled owner Robert Sarver for $4 billion, the sides announced Tuesday.

The sale is expected to take several weeks to complete. Ishbia — who is chairman, president and chief executive of United Wholesale Mortgage, which bills itself as the nation’s largest mortgage lender — will be subjected to a vetting process by the NBA, and once that is complete, the league’s board of governors will have to approve the sale.

The board isn’t scheduled to meet until March, though it could convene virtually if the vetting process is completed beforehand.

Forbes recently listed Ishbia’s net worth at $5.1 billion. Ishbia is a former Michigan State player under coach Tom Izzo, and was a member of the Spartans’ NCAA championship team in 2000.

“I am extremely excited to be the next Governor of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Ishbia said in a statement Tuesday night. “Both teams have an incredibly dynamic fan base and I have loved experiencing the energy of the Valley over the last few months.

“Basketball is at the core of my life, from my high school days as a player to the honor of playing for Coach Izzo and winning a national title at Michigan State University. I’ve spent the last two decades building my mortgage business, United Wholesale Mortgage, into the number one mortgage lender in America and I’m confident that we can bring that same level of success to these great organizations on and off the floor.”

If the sale closes at $4 billion, it would be the largest purchase in NBA history. Joe Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center for $3.3 billion in 2019, and Tilman Fertitta purchased the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017.

The only other NBA franchise known to be sold for $2 billion or more was the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer in 2014.

“I had a great call with fellow Spartan Mat Ishbia congratulating him on his purchase of the Phoenix Suns,” Magic Johnson, another Michigan State alum, tweeted Tuesday. “He’s going to do great things not only for the Suns organization, but for the entire league. All of the other 29 NBA teams better watch out because Mat’s a winner!”

Justin Ishbia, Mat’s brother, also will be part of the ownership group, pending approval. Mat Ishbia will be the team’s governor, Justin the alternate governor.

Suns coach Monty Williams said he didn’t want to comment until the move is official.

“Google-searching people and trying to make assessments about who they are, I think that’s dangerous,” Williams said. “People have done that with me and I just kind of laugh.”

Ishbia’s company is built around team aspects, and he often speaks of the lessons he learned while playing for Tom Izzo and with Mateen Cleaves at Michigan State. His company even has an intramural basketball program with an on-site full-court gym.

“This is not that complicated,” Ishbia recently told HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for a profile, discussing his strategy with people. “Get the best people to join your team, just like in sports. Train them, coach them to be the best version of themselves, like Izzo used to do with us. And then treat them so well that they never want to leave.”

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.”

The punishment 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.

Shortly afterward, Sarver announced he would be looking to sell the Suns and the Mercury.

Sarver bought the Suns in 2004 for $401 million — then an NBA record, and roughly 10 times less than the price Ishbia agreed to pay.

“Mat is the right leader to build on franchise legacies of winning and community support and shepherd the Suns and Mercury into the next era,” Sarver said. “As a former collegiate basketball player and national champion, Mat has exactly the right spirit, commitment and resources to pursue championships.”

Ishbia has been mentioned before as a possible buyer of pro franchises, and he is a prominent Michigan State donor. He helped fund the $95 million deal that the Spartans gave football coach Mel Tucker last year. He played in 48 games for Izzo during his time as a walk-on guard in East Lansing.

Ishbia in November confirmed to The Associated Press his interest in buying the NFL’s Washington Commanders after owners Dan and Tanya Snyder hired a firm to explore potential transactions. It was not immediately clear if buying the Suns would take him out of the process with the Commanders.

“This is a dream come true for my entire family including my parents, my three children, and my brother Justin, who will be making a significant investment with me and bring his incredible business acumen and shared passion for basketball,” Ishbia said. “I appreciate Robert Sarver’s time and support throughout the process. We are so honored to be, with approval by the NBA, the next stewards of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.”

___

AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A migrant from Michoacan, Mexico, uses the CBPOne app Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Tijuana, Mexico. A...
Associated Press

Online system to seek asylum in US is quickly overwhelmed

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Hours before sunrise, migrants at one of Mexico’s largest shelters wake up and go online, hoping to secure an appointment to try to seek asylum in the U.S. The daily ritual resembles a race for concert tickets when online sales begin for a major act, as about 100 people glide their […]
1 day ago
FILE- Members of the Independent Higher Authority for Elections count the votes one day after the p...
Associated Press

Challenge for Tunisian democracy: Getting voters to show up

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia was once the Arab world’s hope for a new era of democracy. Now it’s in the midst of an election that’s more of an embarrassment than a model. Barely 11% of voters turned out in the first round of parliamentary elections last month, boycotted by opposition Islamists and ignored by […]
1 day ago
Extinction Rebellion activists and sympathisers block a busy road in The Hague, Netherlands, Saturd...
Associated Press

Climate activists block main road into The Hague

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Hundreds of climate activists blocked one of the main roads into The Hague on Saturday, defying attempts to prevent their protest that have sparked concerns about restrictions on the right to demonstrate in the Netherlands. The protesters, many waving colored flags with the symbol of environmental group Extinction Rebellion and […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Philippines probes labor abuses in Kuwait after new killing

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the oil-rich emirate. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the […]
1 day ago
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni departs Algiers after a two day official visit in Algeria, Mo...
Associated Press

Italy’s premier visits Libya for talks on energy, migration

CAIRO (AP) — Italy’s prime minister visited Libya for talks Saturday with officials from the country’s west-based government focusing on energy and migration, top issues for Italy and the European Union. Libya is the third North African country Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited over the last two weeks as she seeks to secure new supplies […]
1 day ago
FILE  - A view of a Flybe flight departing from Manchester Airport, Manchester, England, Jan. 13, 2...
Associated Press

Flights canceled as UK airline Flybe sinks into bankruptcy

LONDON (AP) — Struggling U.K. regional airline Flybe collapsed for the second time in three years Saturday, putting jobs on the line and leaving passengers stranded. The airline initially slumped into bankruptcy in March 2020, shedding 2,400 jobs, as coronavirus restrictions decimated the travel industry. It relaunched in April last year, flying many of the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Mat Ishbia agrees to buy Suns, Mercury for $4 billion