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With Suns Deal, Mat Ishbia is close to his basketball dream


He donated to the primary campaign of Alex Lasry, a Democrat, during this year’s Wisconsin Senate race. Lasry is the son of Marc Lasry, owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, and is a Bucks executive. Ishbia also backed both Republicans in the 2020 Senate runoff in Georgia, including an incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, who owned the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. Loeffler was in an open feud with his team’s mostly black players, who backed his Democratic opponent after he bashed the Black Lives Matter movement. She lost to that opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock, who is black, and she then sold the Dream.

Ishbia also gave back to her alma mater. Last year, he pledged $32 million to the state of Michigan. On “Real Sports,” he said an additional $14 million would go towards the school’s $95 million football coach Mel Tucker’s salary.

Two years ago, Izzo connected Ishbia with Dick Vitale, the college basketball broadcaster, which also raises money for childhood cancer research. Vitale said Ishbia offered him $1 million in their first conversation, and then he and his brother, Justin, followed with further seven-figure donations.

“It shocked me,” Vitale said. “Are you kidding me? It’s so rare. I wish I could get more artists and more athletes, more financially successful people to join me on my quest. But it’s not that easy.

From time to time, Ishbia brings her three children, ages 8, 9 and 11, to the office. They will come to UWM senior leadership meetings with notepads.

“It’s cute to peek over and, you know, watch when they’re writing stuff,” said Melinda Wilner, UWM’s chief operating officer since 2015.

Ishbia’s father sits on the UWM board and still attends some company meetings.

“He definitely instilled a strong work ethic in Mat and his brother,” said Sarah DeCiantis, UWM’s chief marketing officer.

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