Ishbia’s first words on trade deadline: “we’ve got to make sure we put ourselves in a great position”

Feb 7, 2023 - 11:28 PM
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Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

It’s done.

Billions of dollars have been wired.

Robert Sarver is much richer now than he was just mere hours ago, to the tune of over $1.5 billion new dollars in his bank account. However you slice it, he came out a big winner.

But the biggest winners are fans of the Phoenix Suns franchise because the even-richer Mat Ishbia is now the controlling owner of the Phoenix Suns, and he is promising to do whatever he can to bring a championship to Phoenix.

His first ever interview as owner of the Suns and WNBA’s Mercury was given to Tim Reynolds of the AP.

“We’ve got to make sure we put ourselves in a great position,” Ishbia said [of the current season and the upcoming trade deadline on Thursday]. “I think we have an amazing team and I think we’re in a great position right now. Will I be involved? Yes. Are we highly active? Yes.

“But at the same time, I think we have a championship-contending team without doing anything over the next two days.”

To his credit, Ishbia spent of his first interview talking about fixing the Suns’ workplace culture, to make it a great place to work on all levels.

Former owner Robert Sarver became the first NBA owner ever ousted by his peers over a toxic workplace full of misogyny and general disrespect regardless of gender.

Sarver handed over a Suns organization with a decorated basketball staff, a contending-level team, newly remodeled arena and state-of-the-art practice facility, but he also left behind a workplace culture in shambles like no other NBA franchise in history.

Ishbia comes in knowing his biggest challenge is not on the court but in the offices.

“I’m going to spend a lot of time listening and learning, then make the adjustments to make this not only one of the best organizations in the NBA but also one of the best places to work,” Mat Ishbia told The Associated Press. “That’s a huge part of my success here in Michigan and it will be a big part of our success now in Phoenix. I don’t have enough information to know what exactly it’s been like, but I will dig in and roll up my sleeves and figure it out over the next three, four, five months-plus.”

“We’re all about culture,” Ishbia said. “We’re all about people. We’re all about the word ‘team.’ It’s almost like a match made in heaven — the city, the location, the NBA, my love of basketball. And I can come in, take some of the really good things they’re doing but maybe make some changes from a culture perspective.”

Ishbia had been wanting to buy into the NBA for years, and even was linked to teams in other sports as well, but stated clearly that the NBA is where he belonged as an owner.

“This is what I wanted the whole time,” Ishbia said. “My name got linked to a lot of things. That doesn’t mean it was actually necessarily right.”

And he definitely believes that the Suns are the right place to be.

“The Phoenix Suns, in my opinion, is one of the elite franchises in one of the elite cities in America. To have a chance to be one of the owners of the Suns and Phoenix Mercury is a dream come true.”

Big kudos that more than half his initial quotes, despite being only two days before an all-important trade deadline, were about culture and workplace.

Mat’s brother Justin, who is now the second-largest investor in the Suns and Mercury and is named the Alternate Governor, is excited about the Valley community as well.

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to make a positive impact on the Phoenix sports ecosystem and community through a people-first, family approach,” Justin says in a statement. “My brother and I look forward to bringing our passion for basketball and competitive spirit to The Valley.”

The first big impact the brothers made on the Phoenix community was to us, right here at Bright Side, when they personally donated $100,000 to our Bright Side Night fundraiser to send underprivileged kids to their first Suns game. Thanks to this donation, we sent more kids this year than ever (7,800), and have now sent over 20,000 kids to a Suns game over the past seven years.

The Ishbias will be introduced in Phoenix tomorrow at 11:30 AM at Footprint Center.

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