Mat Ishbia visits Phoenix, makes strong first impression with Suns
Ish Wainright hoped Mat Ishbia would enjoy Thursday’s Suns game and not need medical attention afterwards.
“I hope he didn’t have a heart attack or anything,” the Suns two-wayer joked after practice Friday. “It was great to have him there.”
Sitting courtside, Ishbia watched the Suns build a 24-point lead against Brooklyn and battle a furious comeback to win 117-112 Thursday at the Footprint Center.
“I think it’s great for the team, the organization and the community to have someone like Mat,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “Having him on the court probably allows everyone to finally put a face to everything that’s been talked about and hasn’t officially happened, but it lets everyone know that this is our guy.”
The billionaire mortgage lender is waiting for NBA approval to officially become the team’s new owner.
“She’s young,” Wainright said when asked about her first initial impression of Ishbia, who turned 43 on January 6. “We didn’t really get a chance to talk to him like that, but he’s young. He looks like he is my age.
Wainright is 28 years old.
“He’s a great guy,” Wainright added. “I look forward to meeting him, meeting his brain not only about basketball, but also about business. I want to get to know him.
Ishbia and Robert Sarver agreed in principle on December 20 to terms of Ishbia’s purchase of the Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury for a record $4 billion. It typically takes two months for the NBA to approve a new team owner, as the NBA performs a thorough background and financial check.
“I had the opportunity to meet him for the first time, briefly,” Williams said of Ishbia. “It was short, but everything I’ve heard about Mat and his family and the way he runs his business has been great. Getting the chance to talk to him (on Friday) was something I was looking forward to, but I’m sure our fans can finally say, hey, that’s our guy and move on.”
Williams noted that he has had five team owners in his two stints as an NBA head coach.
“I know I have to keep doing my job, but I also have to understand what he wants me to do,” Williams said. “It’s not about me giving you a list of demands. I want to hear his vision and I heard a little bit from it (Friday) morning, but in detail, I just want to sit and listen and listen to his value system and hear how he wants to run the team and what he wants to do. he wants. do in the community and it is up to me to carry out that vision.”
Suns general manager and president of basketball operations James Jones, assistant general manager Morgan Cato and vice president Ryan Resch were on hand for Friday’s practice.
Williams acknowledged that having Ishbia in the game indicates a visual change in ownership that resulted from Sarver receiving a one-year suspension and a $10 million fine for “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies” found during an investigation. 10-month NBA investigation.
“You can say that without criticizing Robert in any way,” said Williams, whom Sarver hired in May 2019. “Robert did a lot for this team, he did a lot for this city, he did a lot behind the scenes so people never know. knows. It was an unfortunate ending. I personally keep thinking about his children. I wish you the best. (Sarver’s wife) Penny was a sweet lady, but now that we’ve turned the page, you start to look forward to what can be with the team with the new ownership.”
The NBA launched its investigation in November 2021 in reaction to an ESPN report on allegations of racism and misogyny against Sarver, alleging that he created a “toxic” work environment within the organization during his tenure as owner, which began when he purchased the franchise in 2004.
Team vice president Sam Garvin became the team’s interim governor. A week after the NBA revealed the investigations on Sept. 13, Sarver announced that he was “looking for buyers” for the Suns and Mercury amid backlash from people who were upset with his punishment.
“As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness,” Sarver said in a statement on September 21, 2022. “I had hoped that the commissioner’s one-year suspension would give me time to focus, make amends, and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love.
“But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible, that all the good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by the things I have said in the past. For those reasons , I am beginning the process of looking for buyers for the Suns and Mercury”.
The results of the investigation showed that Sarver, now 61, used the N-word multiple times and made inappropriate comments towards women.
“Words I deeply regret now dwarf nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together, and strengthened the Phoenix area, through the unifying power of men’s and women’s professional basketball,” Sarver said in the statement.
Ishbia emerged from a long line of potential owners to buy the Suns and Mercury.
On Thursday, he saw his future NBA team in person as he awaits league approval to officially become the Suns’ new governor.
“I think it’s great for the community, like I said, to finally be able to say, that’s our guy, that’s the one we’re going to move forward with without being disrespectful or piling on what’s already been talked about a lot,” Williams continued. . “I think you can balance those things and I think you can do it in a way that doesn’t disrespect the people who were hurt in that situation. I am grateful that we are turning the page and we can move forward and I hope that we do it in a respectful way and handled with a lot of integrity.”
Do you have an opinion on the current state of the Suns? Contact Suns expert Duane Rankin at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.
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