EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Mat Ishbia’s improvements for Suns highlighted by 2027 All-Star Game

Mar 7, 2024, 7:15 PM | Updated: Mar 8, 2024, 12:53 pm

Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia and NBA commissioner Adam Silver (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...

Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia and NBA commissioner Adam Silver (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

PHOENIX — The significance of Thursday for the Phoenix Suns organization as the hosts of the 2027 NBA All-Star Game headlined a day that went down as more of a celebration for the franchise with all that has changed over the last year-plus.

It is a laundry list of achievements for new owner Mat Ishbia since he took over. Bringing both the NBA All-Star Game and WNBA All-Star Game (in July) is up there, as well as things coming in the near future, such as a new G League team, new practice facility for the Phoenix Mercury and new campus for team employees.

Most important of all, the exit of Robert Sarver after the league’s investigation confirmed a toxic workplace began the franchise’s process of rebuilding a better environment.

“Team member culture is the most important thing,” Ishbia said. “You can’t have a great organization or a great business or a great anything without culture and taking care of people. It’s not just high level, it’s very low level. It’s from every detail. … The big word that I’ll say that differentiates culture and people is care. You show people you care. You go out of your way to care. You can’t show ’em you care or act like you care, you actually have to care. … I can come in here and set a culture of caring about our team members and about our players and our janitors and our security members — everybody’s part of one team, one family.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance and spoke on the progress they’ve monitored, noting the regular check-ins and the data-driven information surrounding the investigation.

“The process speaks for itself,” Silver said.

Ishbia’s energy is difficult to exaggerate, and while no one would say it, it’s largely why that 2027 weekend will be in the Valley. Silver acknowledged it was a team effort while also crediting Ishbia individually, joking but not really joking that within a week of the deal getting done, Ishbia was already on him about attempting to bring that All-Star Game to Phoenix for the fourth time.

“It matters a lot to us how badly a community and city and ownership want the event,” Silver said. “It’s natural just to be in this community.”

Phoenix does some of that lifting too.

“A wonderful place to be and a wonderful location for sporting events of all kinds,” Silver said, noting he’s jealous as someone from a colder climate.

Governor Katie Hobbs said the positive economic impact is estimated to be around $400 million. Ishbia outlined his four main areas of focus when he was introduced and said this about the fourth: community impact.

“We get a chance to really showcase the city,” Ishbia said.

“We know what kind of show we want to put on,” Ishbia added, noting earlier he wants 2027 to be the best All-Star weekend of all time. “And once again, the NBA always does an amazing job. It’s a whole weekend of festivities and you could argue a week of festivities.”

It all goes back to Ishbia.

“It’s been fantastic,” Silver said of what Ishbia has made happen in a short amount of time. “As a commissioner when you have multiple teams that are operated this well — I don’t know what else to say other than it’s been a pleasure to work together with Mat.”

You’ve surely gotten the idea by now. This process doesn’t stop for Ishbia. He’s not kicking his feet up after a terrific 13 months.

Ishbia is in this for the long haul.

“We’ve done a lot in 13 months and at the same time. … It’s not my team, it’s the city’s team,” he said. “And it’s my honor to work for the city and work for everyone to make this franchise the best in sports. We’re gonna work very hard, the Suns and the Mercury, and making it better every single day and that’s what we’re working on. We’re not there yet but we’re just getting started. … We’re gonna keep going, keep improving every single day.”

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