Building a Bright Future: Mat Ishbia Buys Phoenix Suns and Mercury - McDermott Will & Emery

Building a Bright Future: Mat Ishbia Buys Phoenix Suns and Mercury


As a sports enthusiast and former NCAA basketball player, owning a professional sports franchise had long been a dream of Mat Ishbia’s.

Mat graduated from Michigan State University (MSU) and was a member of MSU’s 2000 national champion basketball team. He is currently president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), the largest mortgage company by volume in the United States. UWM went public in 2021 and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.


In September 2022, Robert Sarver, the former majority owner of the Phoenix Suns NBA franchise and the Phoenix Mercury WNBA franchise, put both basketball teams up for sale.

When he heard the news, Mat recognized an opportunity to bring his business acumen and people-first mentality to the storied Arizona programs. He sought to acquire a controlling interest in both franchises.


With the priority of protecting Mat’s interests in the transaction, his McDermott team led the tax- and trust-related aspects of the transaction and provided substantial assistance in other aspects of the deal. Another law firm led the transaction vis-à-vis the sellers and NBA, with the McDermott team working closely with the other law firm in an integrated approach.

The cross-practice McDermott team, led by Patrick McCurry, Nicole Pearl, Alex Farr, Andrew Granek and John Hammond, worked in close collaboration with Mat’s family office throughout the process.


In February 2023, the NBA Board of Governors approved the sale, turning Mat’s longtime dream of owning an NBA team into his new reality. He officially became the new governor of the Suns and Mercury with a controlling stake.


The transaction valued the Suns and Mercury at $4 billion, making it the largest control transaction in NBA history and one of the largest transactions in the history of professional sports. With the acquisition, Mat also became the NBA’s youngest controlling owner.

The McDermott team is honored to have played an integral role in helping Mat clinch the deal and attain this years-long personal and professional goal.

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