Michigan's Mortgage Rivalry Between Billionaires Dan Gilbert and Mat Ishbia Plays Out in NBA

April 02, 2024, 1:53 PM

Mat Ishbia and Dan Gilbert

ESPN chronicles an interesting rivalry between Michigan's two billionaires in the mortgage industry, Dan Gilbert and Mat Ishbia, both who own NBA basketball teams.

The article, written by Baxter Holmes, mentions some similarities between Ishbia, CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage in Pontiac, and Gilbert, head of Rocket Companies in downtown Detroit. They're both Jewish and grew up in the Detroit suburbs, Gilbert in Southfield, Ishbia in Birmingham,  attended Michigan State University and own mortgage companies that fiercely compete. Gilbert is 18 years Ishbia's senior.

Gilbert owns the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Ishbia recently purchased the Phoenix Suns. 

In February 2023, after Ishbia became majority owner of the Phoenix Suns, he addressed hundreds of Sun employees, according to ESPN,  and said: "I run a mortgage company in Michigan. We're the largest mortgage company in America. We built it from 12 people to 7,000 people."

"We're the No. 1 mortgage company in America," Ishbia repeated at some point. "The No. 2 mortgage company is a sponsor here, which won't be lasting long." He was referring to Gilbert's company that had a $490,000 sponsorship with the Suns.

ESPN writes:

A collegial conversation ensued between the companies, those sources say. Both sides acknowledged that Rocket wouldn't be doing business with the Suns while Ishbia owned them, just as the Cavaliers wouldn't do business with UWM while Gilbert owned the team. And, just like that, the sponsorship deal with the Suns ended early. (Rocket Mortgage and the Suns declined to comment on the deal.)

ESPN notes that move was payback. Just three days before Ishbia spoke to the Suns' employees, the NBA board of governors approved Ishbia's ownership by a  29-0 vote. Gilbert abstained. 

Gilbert's Cavaliers are in the third spot in the NBA Eastern Conference, with a 45-30 record. Ishbia's Suns are in the seventh spot in the Western Conference with a 44-31 record. At least for now, both are headed for the playoffs.

Since 2005, under Gilbert's ownership,  the Cavs have won six Central Division championships, five Eastern Conference titles, and the NBA Championship in 2016. 

The Suns lost in the second round of the playoff in 2023 against the Denver Nuggets, who went on to win the NBA Finals. . 

To read the full story click here.

Read more:  ESPN

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