Joe’s message for billionaire Aussie NBA owner

Joe Ingles hopes billionaire part owner of the Utah Jazz, Mike Cannon-Brookes, can add more Australians to the organisation after securing minority ownership with the team.

The Aussie tech entrepreneur, who has an estimated net worth of around $14 billion, is understood to have paid hundreds of millions alongside friend and US venture capitalist Ryan Sweeney, to become a part owner of the team.

Smith, who’s a lifelong Jazz fan, reached out to Cannon-Brookes after buying the majority stake in the basketball team for $2.13 billion late last year from long-time owner Gail Miller.

Ingles is yet to meet Cannon-Brookes face-to face because of the pandemic but has been in constant touch with the software billionaire.

“He hasn’t been able to travel because of COVID and I haven’t been home for a couple of years now,” Ingles said.

“We text a fair bit. He’s a big supporter of our team he watches every game. His children watch every game decked out in Jazz gear.

“He’s actually building a court on his property with Jazz logos all over it. He’s heavily invested not just financially but also with supporting us.

“The ownership group we’ve got Ryan and his guys are willing to do anything and everything possible to put us in a good position. They’ve had a great year and they’ll need to keep building off it.”

Under the new ownership group, the Jazz have focused their energy on the local community amid a backdrop of racial and social justice in the US. The team began the season with an initiative that awards one student a full college scholarship for each team victory throughout the year.

The program is the first of its kind by an NBA team to award scholarships to students based on the team’s performance.

Earlier this month, the team released a video of its stars, including Ingles, calling the scholarship winners to break the good news.

The Australian, who lost out to teammate Jordan Clarkson for the NBA’s sixth man of the year award, is one of nine Aussies playing in the NBA with the land Down Under the second most-represented international country behind Canada, which has 16.

But Ingles hopes the the addition of Cannon-Brookes will see more Australians come to the club in every capacity, with his last Aussie teammate being former No.4 pick Dante Exum.

“It’s about time I’ve been begging for an Australian in this organisation for a long time since we lost Dante,” Ingles said.

“The only way we could do it is by having someone buy the team. Hopefully with Mike on board now and all the other owners there obviously great as well but to have an Aussie own the team hopefully we can bring more Aussie over here.

“We’ve got a diverse group. We’ve got Spanish people obviously, we’ve got Rudy (Gobert) representing the French, we’ve got all different nationalities since I’ve been here. It’s been cool to meet so many different people but I’ll be pushing Mike to bring some more Aussies on board and if he doesn’t I’ll be upset at him.”

** Watch Joe Ingles and the Utah Jazz compete in the NBA Playoffs on Kayo

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

pin up