Suns owner Mat Ishbia on feud with Cavs’ Dan Gilbert: ‘He doesn’t like me, I don’t like him’

May 4, 2023, 8:43 AM

Asked about his relationship with Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, new Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia couldn’t have been more candid.

On The Bill Simmons Podcast published this week, Ishbia was asked about the rivalry that goes way back between the two Detroit-based mortgage lending company CEOs, who as of February both own NBA teams.

“He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him, right? That’s how it is,” Ishbia said. “His company (Rocket) used to be No. 1 in mortgage. My business (United Wholesale Mortgage) is No. 1 in mortgage (now).

“I don’t like how they do business in a lot of things, he probably doesn’t like how we do things. We’re in the same town, we compete, we’re winning.”

There is a Google-able history of the Gilbert-Ishbia rivalry on the business side of things.

In 2020, UWM ran a Super Bowl commercial that seemed to take jabs at Rocket Mortgage (an actual rocket was involved). Ishbia even called out Rocket after UWM surpassed its rival as the No. 1 lender.

Signs that the rivalry in the mortgage lending business would cross into the professional basketball space appeared literally the day Ishbia was confirmed as the replacement to former Suns owner Robert Sarver.

NBA owners voted 29-0 to approve Ishbia’s purchase of the team on Feb. 6, with one owner abstaining. Gilbert didn’t vote.

“People asked me what I thought about that: Like, I knew without a question that that’d probably be how he’d handle it,” Ishbia told Simmons. “The best part is now you get to see who I see. Very simple. Now you see what I see and what I know about that man.”

While Ishbia said he’s not against shaking hands with Gilbert, adding he has no animosity toward him, there is a competitive edge to their relationship.

The Suns owner added that he’s against how Gilbert has handled things on the mortgage business side.

“If someone does things the wrong way, which he’s done, I’m going to call them out on it and that’s what I’ve done,” Ishbia said.

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