Billionaire Mat Ishbia is nearing an agreement to purchase the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury for $4 billion (£3.3 billion).
Ishbia, a mortgage executive, has reached an in-principle agreement with Robert Sarver, who is selling after being suspended for racist and sexist behavior.
“Both teams have an incredibly dynamic fanbase. I have loved experiencing the energy of the Valley,” Ishbia stated.
This deal to purchase an NBA team would set a new record.
Ishbia’s investment in a controlling stake in the Suns and WNBA side the Mercury values the franchise at $4 billion, which is more than the $3.3 billion price tag placed on the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center by Joe Tsai’s deal in 2019.
Ishbia attended Michigan State and was a reserve player in the team’s NCAA Championship win in 2000 under long-serving coach Tom Izzo.
“From my high school days as a player to the honor of playing for Coach Izzo and winning a national championship at Michigan State University,” he added.
Magic Johnson, who also played for Michigan State but in a different era, greeted Ishbia’s arrival in the sport.
“All of the other 29 NBA teams better watch out because Mat’s a winner!” Johnson wrote.
After losing out on the Denver Broncos in August, Ishbia stated in November that he was considering a bid for American football’s Washington Commanders.
Current Phoenix owner Sarver was fined $10m and suspended from basketball for a year in September after an investigation into claims of racism and misogyny found he had “engaged in conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards”.
He announced he was looking to sell the franchise shortly after, saying it was “the best course of action for everyone”.