The NBA board of governors has approved the sale of the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA's Mercury to billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia, the NBA announced Monday night.
Ishbia was approved as the Suns' new governor by a 29-0 vote, league sources said, with the Cleveland Cavaliers abstaining from the vote.
"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 statement issued by the Suns on Tuesday. "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."
The Cavaliers are owned by Dan Gilbert, who runs Rocket Mortgage. Ishbia owns United Wholesale Mortgage. The two companies are considered the top two largest mortgage lenders in America and have a fierce rivalry.
Ishbia is buying a 57% controlling stake for $2.28 billion, sources said, with Robert Sarver selling his 37% stake for $1.48 billion. Even after taxes, Sarver is expected to clear nearly double the amount that he and a group paid for the team in 2004 -- then a record $401 million from former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo.
Ishbia's brother, Justin Ishbia, who is the CEO and founder of Shore Capital Partners, will be the second-largest shareholder in the franchise and will be alternate governor.
Of the Suns' nearly 20-member ownership group under Sarver, there are only four minority partners who are retaining their full stake in the team, with their shares comprising nearly a quarter of the team. The rest of the ownership group sold 25% of their shares at the $4 billion valuation, the maximum amount allowed under the terms of the sale.
Mat Ishbia will be introduced by the Suns on Wednesday.
Suns vice chairman and minority owner Jahm Najafi issued a statement Tuesday in support of Mat Ishbia becoming the majority owner.
"In recognition of our enthusiasm for Mat, as the new steward of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, Cheryl and I have decided to maintain all of our family's investment in the team and to support fully Mat's commitment to a positive workplace environment, social justice and dignity for all employees and players," Najafi said. "I personally look forward to working with him and am honored to continue as Vice Chairman and Alternate on the NBA Board of Governors. We are excited for this new chapter of our invaluable community treasure."
Sarver sold the team and the Phoenix Mercury in the wake of a 10-month NBA investigation into his conduct as owner. That investigation came after a 2021 ESPN report that centered on Sarver's conduct during his tenure as majority owner, which began in 2004.
Ishbia ascends to his post as Thursday's NBA trade deadline nears, with the Suns expected to be aggressive in helping upgrade a roster that reached the NBA Finals in 2021 and posted the NBA's best regular-season record in 2021-22 before falling in the second round to the Dallas Mavericks.