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

The sale is expected to take several weeks to complete. Ishbia, chairman, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, which bills itself as the nation’s largest mortgage lender, will undergo a vetting process by the NBA, and once that’s complete, the league’s board of governors must approve the sale;

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

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

“I am extremely excited to be the next manager of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Ishbia said in a statement Tuesday night. “Both teams have incredibly dynamic fan bases, and I’ve loved feeling the energy of the Valley over the past few months.

“Basketball has been the foundation of my life, from my high school days to playing for Coach Izzo and winning a national title at Michigan State University. I have spent the last two decades building my mortgage business, United Wholesale Mortgage, into America’s number one mortgage lender, and I am confident that we can bring the same level of success to these great organizations both on and off the floor. “.

If the sale goes through for $4 billion, it will 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 bought the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017.

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

“I had a great call with the Spartans’ Matt Ishbia, congratulating him on buying the Phoenix Suns,” Magic Johnson, another Michigan State student. on Twitter Tuesday. “He’s going to do great things not only for the Suns organization, but for the entire league.” The rest of the 29 NBA teams better watch out because Mat is a winner.”

Justin Ishbia, Matt’s brother, will also be part of the ownership group pending confirmation. Mat Ishbia will be the manager of the team, Justin will be the vice-governor.

Ishbia’s company is built around the team aspect, and he often talks about the lessons he learned playing with Tom Izzo and Martin Cleaves at Michigan State. His company even has an in-house basketball program with a full gym on site.

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

Mat Ishbia, left, was a former Michigan State basketball player and a member of the Spartans’ 2000 NCAA Championship team. Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The NBA suspended Sarver for one year in September and fined him $10 million after an investigation found he had engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.”

The league report’s findings come nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, homophobic and hostile incidents during his nearly two decades overseeing the franchise.

Shortly thereafter, Sarver announced that he would try to sell Sun and Mercury.

Sarver bought the Suns in 2004 for $401 million, an NBA record at the time, and about 10 times less than Ishbia agreed to pay.

“Mat is the right leader to build on the franchise’s legacy 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, Matt has the right spirit, dedication and resources to pursue a championship.”

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

In November, Ishbia 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 deals. It was not immediately clear whether the Suns buyout 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 make 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 honored to be the next NBA-approved stewards of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.”


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