It was revealed on Tuesday that Mat Ishbia, the millionaire CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, would purchase both the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. The proposal is subject to NBA clearance, and the acquisition price will be $4 billion.
The transaction basically puts an end to the controversial owner Robert Sarver’s reign. Sarver, who was punished for a year by the NBA over the results of an independent inquiry into the workplace cultures of the Suns and Mercury, announced in September that he would sell his stakes in both teams.
Ishbia reportedly had interest in buying the Washington Commanders and was a member of a group that attempted to buy the Denver Broncos earlier this year. Ishbia, however, has a basketball resume: from 1999 to 2002, he played as a walk-on for the Michigan State Spartans, where he won a national title in 2000. He began working at UWM after earning his business degree from MSU, and in 2013 he was named CEO, succeeding his father, Jeff Ishbia, who established the Michigan-based mortgage lending business.
Ishbia declared in a statement, “I am incredibly excited to be the future Governor of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. For my entire family—my parents, my three kids, and my brother Justin, who will join me in making a sizeable investment and adding his exceptional business acumen and mutual enthusiasm for basketball—this is a dream come true. I value Robert Sarver’s assistance and attention during the process. We are incredibly grateful that the NBA has given us permission to serve as the new stewards of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.
For 18 years, Sarver was the owner of the Suns. He bought the team in 2004 for a then-record $401 million.
A report about the Suns’ workplace under Sarver was released by ESPN in November 2021. Among its many accusations were that Sarver had used the N-word frequently and made remarks that were sexist in meetings. The NBA ordered an investigation as a result of the news. LeBron James and Chris Paul of the Suns were among the players who criticized the NBA for being too lenient when it announced Sarver’s one-year punishment.