The Phoenix Suns Just Sold For A Record Amount To A Former NCAA Walk-On

By on February 10, 2023 in ArticlesSports News

In December, Mat Ishbia agreed to purchase the Phoenix Suns and Mercury from embattled owner Robert Sarver. That move became official on February 6, as the NBA announced the league approved the sale to Ishbia with a unanimous 29-0 vote. Only the Cleveland Cavaliers abstained from voting.

The deal values the Suns and Mercury at a record $4 billion — no NBA franchise has ever had that high of a valuation. Ishbia, a billionaire real estate mogul, and his brother Justin agreed to purchase all of Sarver's shares, plus some stakes from minority partners. While the exact valuation hasn't been confirmed, it's a safe bet to assume the Ishbias are spending between $2 and $2.5 billion in the deal.

Mat Ishbia will serve as the team's governor, while Justin will act as alternate governor. The move comes mere days before the NBA trade deadline.

Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia laughing during a game.

Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Though this is the highest valuation in NBA history, it's not the most an individual owner has spent on a basketball team. Joseph Tsai paid $3.3 billion in 2919 for the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center. In 2017, Tilman Fertitta dropped $2.2 billion on the Houston Rockets.

Ishbia played basketball in college, walking on at Michigan State. Though he was never the biggest star on the team, he played in 48 games and won a national championship in 2000 under coach Tom Izzo.

Today, Ishbia is the chairman, president, and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage. He's got a higher net worth than Michael Jordan and LeBron James combined.

Sarver bought the Suns in 2004. He spent $401 million to purchase the team then, which was a record at the time. After this sale, he'll make about five times what he spent nearly two decades ago. Not a bad exit strategy.

Oh, and remember how the Cavaliers abstained from voting? United Wholesale Mortgage is a major rival to Quicken Loans, the company founded by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

If the Suns and Cavs end up in the NBA Finals, the trash-talking between the owner's boxes might be even worse than on the court.

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