After years of watching Phoenix Suns games from courtside seats, Larry Fitzgerald now has an even greater vantage point: the owner's suite.
The Arizona Cardinals' iconic wideout, who first bought season tickets in 2005, recently purchased an undisclosed minority stake in the NBA franchise, whose estimated value was $1.5 billion in 2019, according to Forbes.
"It's an investment in something I have supported since I've been in Arizona," he told NFL.com by phone. "It gives me another connection in the community I love and always will live in. It's a long-term commitment I wanted to make for life after football."
Fitzgerald, the Cardinals' all-time leader in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches, signed a one-year extension last week after completing his 16th season. He said the business venture with the Suns will not diminish his commitment to football, stating that his goal is to have another strong season and help Arizona get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
The offer to join the Suns was first made two years ago by managing partner Robert Sarver. He and Fitzgerald first met in 2005, a year after Fitzgerald was drafted third overall by the Cardinals. The two struck up a friendship that blossomed over the years and included discussions about business as much as life.
When Fitzgerald considered retirement two years ago, Sarver approached him about becoming an owner/investor in the Suns.
"I had never really given it any thought before then," Fitzgerald said. "I asked him to give me a little bit of time to think about it and wrap my mind around it. I thought it was a unique opportunity because I hadn't heard of many other [athletes] doing it, but I wanted to really think about it because it's a substantial capital commitment. It's not something small."
Fitzgerald joins Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as NFL players who have recently invested in an NBA franchise, but whether Fitzgerald will fulfill a role beyond investor will be determined once he's done playing football. The venture with the Suns is part of a master plan to prepare himself for life beyond the white lines.
"Larry will serve as an advisor and resource to our business and basketball staff as well as Suns and Mercury players," Sarver said on how Fitzgerald's role will evolve over time.
Fitzgerald regularly spends time with some of the world's top business people, hoping to learn the secrets to their success and how he can apply those principles in his own life. One such relationship is with Sarver.
"I've been friends with Robert for a very long time," Fitzgerald said. "We first met when I started coming to the games in 2005 and struck up a good friendship. He started helping me with things about business, like real estate. I've learned a great deal from him. We've gotten really close and our families have gotten really close, as well. I'm looking forward to working together in the future."