A $4 billion deal has reportedly been made for the purchase of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury by billionaire mortgage banker Mat Ishbia, who was voted Jewish athlete of the year by his hometown Jewish newspaper while he was a high school student.
Robert Sarver, who stated in September that he would be selling the basketball teams he has owned since 2004, is selling the teams to Ishbia, who claimed his Jewish heritage in his announcement.
Sarver, a real estate entrepreneur with a net worth of about $1 billion, announced the sale after an inquiry revealed a record of unethical and abusive behavior, including racist statements and sexual harassment of employees.
Sarver also faced a suspension and $10 million penalties.
In a statement at the time, Sarver stated, “As a man of religion, I believe in the atonement and the way to forgiveness.”
Teshuvah, the Jewish concept of repentance, is a significant focus of the High Holidays.
The Temple Chai Reform synagogue in Phoenix is where the Tucson native belongs.
According to Bloomberg, Ishbia, president and chief executive officer of United Wholesale Mortgage in Michigan, is worth $5.6 billion.
The biggest wholesale mortgage lender in the country is his company.
ESPN claims Ishbia has been seeking NBA and NFL teams lately and is friends with the Jewish NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
The NBA’s board of governors must approve the sale before it can be considered final.
The $4 billion price tag is the second-highest for a North American sports club, behind only the $4.65 billion sale of the NFL’s Denver Broncos in June, and the most costly in basketball history.
Ishbia will become the NBA’s youngest franchise owner at 42.
Ishbia played basketball as a walk-on for Michigan State University, where he participated in three Final Fours and captured the 2000 national title.
The most significant individual gift ever made to his alma institution was his $32 million pledge in 2021.
Ishbia, voted Jewish athlete of the year by the Detroit Jewish News as a senior in high school, also played for Detroit’s youth Maccabi team when he was 13.
He serves on the board of directors of the Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation.
According to ESPN, Justin Ishbia, Mat’s brother, will make a significant investment and act as the team’s substitute governor.
During the most recent election season, Justin was among the most charitable Jews.
Both brothers have donated generously to both Republicans and Democrats.
Mat Ishbia sent money to Republicans running for Senate in Georgia in 2020, but neither won.
He contributed to the campaign of Jewish Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry last year, who briefly ran for the Senate.