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Mat Ishbia Takes A Charge At NBA Playoff Game

David Krechevsky
May 08, 2023
Mat Ishbia and Nikola Jokic
Mat Ishbia, arms raised, appears to be pushed by Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic during an NBA playoff game Sunday night in Phoenix.

UWM CEO and majority owner of the Phoenix Suns involved in scuffle with Denver center Nikola Jokic

United Wholesale Mortgage CEO Mat Ishbia is not one to back down from a challenge, even if it arrives in the form of a 6-foot-11, 284-pound center for an NBA team.

Ishbia, who along with his brother Justin acquired ownership of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns in December, was involved in a scuffle with Nikola Jokic, the starting center for the Denver Nuggets, during Game 4 of the teams’ Western Conference Semifinal series Sunday night.

With 2:36 left in the first half, the basketball went out of bounds and was caught by Ishbia, who was seated courtside. Justin Ishbia was sitting a few seats away from his brother.

Mat Ishbia stood up just as Jokic arrived to retrieve the ball, but Ishbia refused to let it go. Jokic pulled the ball free, but it flew further into the seating area. Jokic stepped closer to Ishbia in his continued pursuit of the ball, and when Ishbia placed his hand on Jokic’s back, the center shoved his forearm into Ishbia, who fell back into his seat with his arms raised.

After security, the referees, other players, and team officials arrived to settle things down, Jokic was assessed a technical foul. 

During a news conference after the game, which the Suns won 129-124, Jokic claimed a “fan” had “put hands on me first.” He was not aware the “fan” was the owner of the opposing team.

Video of the incident raises the question as to whether Ishbia may have “flopped” when pushed by Jokic to draw the technical foul, something the UWM CEO would be familiar with since he played NCAA basketball at Michigan State University. 

Ishbia declined to comment on the incident when asked about it after the game by ESPN. On Monday, however, he commented via Twitter after suggestions that Jokic could face a fine or suspension related to the incident.

"Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far!" Ishbia tweeted. "That should be and is the only story. Suspending or fining anyone over last nights (sic) incident wold not be right. I have alot (sic) of respect for Jokic and don't want to see anything like that. Excited for game 5! Go Suns!"

He became the majority owner of the Suns in December 2022 when he and Justin bought the team from Robert Sarver for more than $4 billion, the largest deal in NBA history.

The series between the two teams is now tied at two games apiece. They play again Tuesday night in Denver.

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