Phoenix – The game of basketball was irrelevant.
On November 4 of the 2021-22 season, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Houston Rockets.
It won’t be in the headlines for the next 24 hours. The game was lucky even to be mentioned. When head coach Monty Williams and his players walked into the press conference room, they weren’t asked much about it.
On the same day, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes delivered a surprising report on owner Robert Sarver’s accusations of racism, misogyny, and bullying within Sam’s workplace.
Phoenix would go on to play a few games where the bigger story was more off the court than on it.
The last one was on Thursday but it was much more positive.
Incoming owner Matt Ichpeia, who finalized his purchase of the franchise from the suspended Sarver in late December, sat court for the Suns in a victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
He did it while in the old Sarver benches.
While the process of Ishbilla taking charge of the squad is still awaiting league approval, a process that could take a few more weeks, his presence suggests that all is well on this front and it is a matter of when rather than if.
For the Suns, I’m sure Ishbia’s physical presence meant a lot.
There was a sense of dread pervading the team’s media day and a hushed tone from everyone who spoke. You can feel it in the room. On top of the team’s embarrassing exit in the playoffs, the results of the league’s investigation into Sarver came to light, along with the owner’s decision to sell the team.
The flat nature of everyone’s temper came through as well as quarterback Deandre Ayton, who was coming off an eventful season from restricted free agency and his last outing on the field ended with a verbal altercation between head coach Monty Williams as he walked out of the game. His complete lack of energy in a media day led to overreactions and subjective opinions on how to interpret it, including from myself.
In fact, the group likely shut down to match the seriousness of what they had to discuss within Sarver’s investigative findings, and with good reason. Every player was asked about it and they knew it would be the case.
This is one example that you can pick out from this year as well as Suns where they won’t have to deal with that distraction, deal with asking about that distraction and so forth.
Ishbiya’s arrival at the center of the footprint indicated that the end was well nigh.
Williams said after training on Friday that he met Ishbala for the first time that day.
“I think it’s great for the team, the organization and the community to have someone like Matt,” said Williams. “Having him on the field maybe allows everyone to finally put a face to everything that’s been talked about and hasn’t officially happened, but it kind of lets everyone know, ‘Okay, this is our guy.'” “I had the chance to meet him today for the first time for a little while.
It was short but all I heard about Matt and his family and the way he runs his business – it was great to hear it all. Getting a chance to speak with him today was something I’ve been looking forward to. I’m sure our fans can finally say, ‘This is our man’ “We are moving forward.”
This is nothing new for Williams. In his second internship, this will be the fifth owner he has worked for. He seemed eager to start forming a connection with this person.
“I know I have to keep doing my job but I also have to understand what he wants me to do,” said Williams. “It’s not about him giving me a list of demands. … I want to hear his vision and I heard a few of them this morning. But in detail, I just want to sit down and listen and listen to his value system and hear the way he wants to run the team and what he wants to do in the community and I have to implement that vision “.
Eshpea has had a natural connection in his life with basketball since his playing days with Michigan State under longtime head coach Tom Izzo.
As it turns out, Williams has his own connection there, too.
When Williams was an executive with the San Antonio Spurs and out on scouting trips, his coaching mind was still there. While visiting some of the top college basketball programs in the country, Williams captured videos on his phones of drills from some of the game’s elite. He absorbed everything he could about philosophies, what former NBA players now do for their program and more.
Michigan State was one of those schools that gave Williams the opportunity to further develop his inner idea of what his own program would look like if he got another crack at it.
“I couldn’t pay for what they did for me the two times I got up there,” Williams said of Michigan State. “They showed me everything.”
Williams called it “cool” to know Ishbia is someone who came out of this program.
Soon after, Williams would have the lengthy talks he wanted with Ishpea, who would join Williams’ mental team and head of basketball operations James Jones at the Sunshaders Foundation.
Williams co-signed the idea of this transition allowing the Suns to move on from the Sarver saga but made sure to point out that it could be done without disparaging Sarver.
“Robert has done so much for this team, he’s done so much for this city, he’s done so much behind the scenes that people will never know,” Williams said. “It’s an unfortunate ending. Personally, I still think of his kids, I wish them well. (Sarver’s wife) Penny was such a nice lady. But now as we turn the page, you start to look forward to what it might be like with the team with ownership and I think that’s a good thing. I think it’s really cool that society can finally say, “Here’s our guy. That’s what we’re going for ‘without being disrespectful or piling on what has already been talked about so much.
“So I think you can balance those things and I think you can do it in a way that is disrespectful to the people who were hurt in this situation. I’m grateful we turned the page and were able to move forward and I hope we can do it anywhere that is respectful and treated with a great deal of respect.” integrity “.