Colangelo: Suns owner Mat Ishbia is ‘breath of fresh air,’ excited for KD era

Feb 10, 2023, 9:01 PM | Updated: 9:24 pm
Kevin Durant and Jerry Colangelo celebrate during the Men's Basketball medal ceremony on day fiftee...
Kevin Durant and Jerry Colangelo celebrate during the Men's Basketball medal ceremony on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 07, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

If fans want reassurance that the recent events for the Phoenix Suns aren’t setting up for a letdown, former team owner Jerry Colangelo is here to provide comforting words.

His resume of building the NBA franchise and pushing the Arizona Diamondbacks speaks to that. But so is his personal perception of the two main characters who entered the Phoenix community this week: new Suns owner Mat Ishbia and star forward Kevin Durant.

“First of all, before the actual announcement, Mat Ishbia reached out to me. He wanted to make contact,” Colangelo told Wolf & Luke on Arizona Sports. “We had a great meeting, got to know him somewhat. He wanted to engage me as a mentor, quite honestly. And then his brother, (new Suns alternate governor) Justin … I’m very impressed with these two young guys. I really am. I think it’s a breath of fresh air. I think the fans in Phoenix are going to be well-served under this new leadership.”

Colangelo sees a little bit of himself in Mat Ishbia, the controlling owner who gained his wealth leading a top mortgage loan company.

The former Suns owner called the new one “hungry.” Colangelo sees that the Ishbia brothers believe the Phoenix area, the NBA and themselves to build long-term success.

On the court, Ishbia put his foot down before the trade deadline Thursday and dealt for Durant. While risky in basketball terms, it is more objectively expensive in financial ones.

Durant is under contract through 2025-26 and is making $43 million this year alone on an escalating contract.

“I have great respect for him,” Colangelo said. “He just loves the game and he comes to play every single night, no distractions. Some people like to say, he’s a real baller, if you will.”

As the former director of USA Basketball, Colangelo knows Durant personally, as well.

Durant’s legacy of career success has nothing to be debated about on the international stage. He has been the best player on the United States national team through three Olympics and one FIBA World Cup under Colangelo’s watch.

Durant owns the USA Basketball record for most career points scored and in the 2021 Olympics set a record for points averaged (20.7) over a full tournament. He is one of four players to appear in three men’s basketball Olympic games.

“I’m very, very excited about the new regime and not surprised at the trade that took place,” Colangelo said. “Kevin Durant has had an interest in Phoenix for a while, some of that was public over the last year, year-and-a-half. That’s a pretty impressive team and they have a lot of role players to go along with that. I think the rest of this season could be very, very exciting in terms of after the All-Star break and hopefully, Durant will be back at that time.

“I’ve watched and listened to how the experts around the country have looked at the acquisition. And almost to a person, to a man, to a woman, they think the Suns made a great deal, and I concur with that.”

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Colangelo: Suns owner Mat Ishbia is ‘breath of fresh air,’ excited for KD era