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The NBA has approved the sale of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury to Mat Ishbia.

PHOENIX (AP) — Mat Ishbia, a mortgage executive and former Michigan State guard, is the new majority owner of the Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, after the NBA’s board of governors approved his plan to buy out Robert Sarver’s controlling stake in those teams.

The league announced the approval on Monday night, stating that the transaction would be completed later this week. According to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the final decision had not yet been made public, the vote was 29-0, with the Cleveland Cavaliers abstaining.

On December 20, Ishbia agreed to the deal, which valued the Suns and Mercury at $4 billion. Ishbia and his brother Justin announced at the time that they would be acquiring more than 50% of the franchises, which included the entire stake in the embattled Sarver as well as some minority partner holdings.

Mat Ishbia will be the Suns’ governor, with Justin Ishbia serving as an alternate. They can now fill those roles just days before the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, with the Suns in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Mat Ishbia is expected to be introduced at a news conference in Phoenix on Wednesday.

No other sale in NBA history has resulted in a $4 billion valuation of the franchise. Joe Tsai paid $3.3 billion for the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center in 2019, and Tilman Fertitta paid $2.2 billion for the Houston Rockets in 2017.

According to a person familiar with the situation, the sale was finalised just hours after Jason Rowley, the Suns’ president and CEO, decided to leave the team in anticipation of the leadership changes. That person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Rowley’s resignation was not made public, said Rowley’s departure was “shared internally” within the Suns organisation on Monday.

Mat Ishbia is the chairman, president, and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, which bills itself as the largest mortgage lender in the country. Before the transaction could be finalised, he had to successfully complete an NBA vetting process, and then the league’s other owners had to vote for or against the move.

His net worth was recently estimated to be slightly more than $5 billion by Forbes. Ishbia’s company went public in January 2021 and competes with Quicken Loans, which was founded and is led by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

Ishbia attended Michigan State and was a member of the Spartans’ NCAA championship team in 2000.

After an investigation revealed “workplace misconduct and organisational deficiencies,” the NBA suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million in September.

The punishment came nearly a year after the NBA commissioned an investigation into allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, misogynistic, and hostile incidents during his nearly two-decade tenure as general manager.

Sarver then announced that he would be looking to sell the Suns and Mercury. He purchased the Suns for $401 million in 2004, setting an NBA record at the time.

Ishbia has previously been mentioned as a potential buyer of pro franchises, including the NFL’s Washington Commanders, and he is a major Michigan State donor.

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