Mat Ishbia made a stop at the Jerk Store before Game 5

May 9, 2023, 6:52 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm

Suns owner Mat Ishbia was already perhaps the most hated figure among Colorado sports fans after his role in drawing a technical foul against Nikola Jokić in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday night.

So, where do you go from there?

You bring one of the most infamous figures in the state’s recent sports history to sit courtside at Ball Arena.

As KCNC-Ch. 4’s Romi Bean shared on Twitter, none other than Mel Tucker — the erstwhile CU football coach who left Boulder for Michigan State under cover of darkness three years ago – will be on hand in a plum seat as the guest of the new Suns owner.

There’s a deep connection between Tucker and Ishbia, of course. Ishbia, a former Michigan State men’s basketball player, is a longtime donor to the school and its athletic department.

Early in 2021, Ishbia donated $32 million to Michigan State. Of that tally, $20 million went to building Tucker’s football program a new building — named for men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo.

But that only scratches the surface of the connection with Tucker.

In a way, Tucker owes part of the largesse in his bank account to Ishbia. In the midst of guiding Michigan State to the Peach Bowl in 2021, Tucker leveraged the season — and potential interest from other schools — into a 10-year, $95-million extension. Ishbia told HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that he personally contributed $14 million of that cost to keep Tucker in East Lansing.

“I gave another $14 million to Michigan State, is what I gave,” Ishbia said then. “And the reality is, a 10-year, $95-million contract sounds like a lot right now. In eight years, that will be the middle of the road.”

It might well prove to be the case. But Tucker followed the 11-2 season that spurred the extension by guiding Sparty to a forgettable 5-7 finish. It was MSU’s worst full-length football season since 2016. Tucker has an 18-14 record at Michigan State. That is considerably worse in winning percentage than the 114-57 mark notched by his predecessor, Mark Dantonio.

Tucker’s presence might make the CSU and Nebraska-supporting segments of the Nuggets fan base smile. But everyone else could well retch at the return of Midnight Mel.

Meanwhile, it looks as if Ishbia and Jokić are patching things up.

In that regard, all is well. And given the good-humored Jokić’s nature, that comes as no surprise.

But if the Ball Arena game-presentation people want to get the crowd riled up, they need only put a picture of Tucker on the video boards.


Coach Prime CU Buffs...

Will Petersen

CU Buffs will start their second season with Coach Prime on ESPN

The CU Buffs season opener against North Dakota State on Thursday, Aug. 29 will be broadcast to the masses on ESPN at 6:00 p.m. MT

3 days ago

Head coach Deion Sanders of the Colorado Buffaloes CU Nebraska...

Will Petersen

CU isn’t going anywhere, gets elite kickoff and TV slot at Nebraska

This will be just the eighth game in CU history on a national broadcast on NBC; the Buffs have not played on the network since 1995

4 days ago

Travis Hunter...

Jake Shapiro

CU Buffs star is on one of the covers for EA’s College Football 25

If it’s in the game it’s in the game and Colorado Buffaloes star Travis Hunter will be on the cover of College Football 25

7 days ago

Head coach Bill Self, assistant coach Danny Manning and assistant coach Joe Dooley of the Kansas Ja...

Jake Shapiro

CU Buffs add college hoops legend to coaching staff

Tad Boyle and the Colorado Buffaloes roam back to the Big 12 this fall and when they do so they'll have a conference legend on their staff

10 days ago

Shedeur Sanders #2 of the Colorado Buffaloes...

Jake Shapiro

ESPN’s first 2025 Draft mock has Shedeur Sanders going top 5

If Shedeur Sanders is going to be the top selection in the NFL Draft, he'll have to turn some heads for the Colorado Buffaloes this fall

15 days ago

Deion Sanders Shedeur Sanders Scott Van Pelt...

Will Petersen

Scott Van Pelt chimes in on drama with Coach Prime and Shedeur

Scott Van Pelt, who's one of the most famous in sports media, talked about the duo for nearly three minutes on his "1 Big Thing" segment

15 days ago

Mat Ishbia made a stop at the Jerk Store before Game 5