Rivalry between Suns’ Ishbia, Cavs’ Gilbert reportedly carries over to NBA

Feb 6, 2023, 8:26 PM | Updated: 8:30 pm

Mat Ishbia...

Then-incoming Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia laughs during the game between the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns at Little Caesars Arena on February 04, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Sure, you know about NBA rivalries. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. But do you know about the rivalries at the top of the league’s food chain, involving the guys that can throw a “b” in front of their net worth?

The latest beef between NBA owners was put in the spotlight on Monday, when after it was reported incoming Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia’s league vote had passed by a 29-0 tally, it was learned the only reason it wasn’t unanimous was because the Cleveland Cavaliers abstained from voting, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Their owner is Dan Gilbert, and he and Ishbia go back.

Ishbia comes from United Wholesale Mortgage. Its biggest competitor is Rocket Mortgage, owned by Gilbert. Both of them graduated from Michigan State, with UWM having its headquarters in Pontiac, Mich. and Rocket Mortgage being based in Detroit.

Back in 2020 shortly before the pandemic, UWM ran its first ever Super Bowl commercial and took shots at Rocket Mortgage. The ad started by showing a child laying down on a skateboard squirming around with a rocket on its back. A narrator noted how a rocket is fun as a child but that it can be “complicated and expensive” when getting a mortgage. Ishbia later said it was not an attack on Rocket Mortgage and that UWM “had fun with it.”

Ishbia two years ago committed to making UWM the country’s largest mortgage lender by 2024, and in November, The Detroit News’ Breana Noble noted the net income returns for UWM topped Rocket Mortgage as the nation’s largest originator by volume in the third quarter of 2022.

“What we have said would happen has happened,” Ishbia said on an earnings call. “Maybe just maybe there really is one elite mortgage company in America. Maybe there’s one CEO and his leadership team that really is in the weeds of the business and knows the business better than the rest. Who knows? That’s what we believe. I hope you’re starting to believe it, as well.”

There is more!

“Rocket’s going to cry like they cry about everything, and we beat them. Brokers are better,” Ishbia told The Detroit News. “We’re the largest mortgage company in America. It’s not negotiable. It’s not discussed. It’s not an opinion. It’s factual.”


Ishbia also had called out Rocket Mortgage laying off approximately 2,000 employees in April.

If you’re keeping score at home between these two sides in the NBA, that’ll have to wait for either the NBA Finals or next season. The Cavaliers and Suns have already played their two regular season matchups this season.

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