The Houston Rockets, who have been owned by Les Alexander for the last 24 years, are in good hands under new ownership. Tilman Fertitta, who competed against Alexander to purchase the team in 1993, has accomplished his dream of NBA ownership–and he hopes success comes with it.
Fertitta, who owns the Golden Nugget Casinos and Landry's, is a Houston native and a long-time Rockets fan. “It's the ultimate. You're in a club of 30,” Fertitta said. “Anybody can go build a boardwalk, anybody can build an aquarium, anybody can build tall buildings, but not everybody gets to own an NBA franchise.”
The new owner also has the good fortune of owning a team with some of the league’s best talent. In addition to James Harden, who finished second in the MVP voting last season, the Rockets boast Chris Paul and a solid supporting cast, with players like Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, P.J. Tucker, and Eric Gordon.
The acquisition of Paul has the Rockets poised to challenge the Golden State Warriors in 2017-18. That fact is not lost on Fertitta. “To walk into this situation with James Harden and Chris Paul is unbelievable," he said at his introductory press conference. "You've got to remember the name of the game is to get to the playoffs, and this is a superstar league. You are not going to get to the playoffs every year and likely make it to the second round if you don't have a James Harden playing for you. You add a guy like Chris Paul, and you should get to the Western Conference finals.”
Houston’s situation is ready-made for success. Not only do the Rockets boast a talented roster, they also have Mike D’Antoni, a Coach of the Year winner, and progressive general manager Daryl Morey.
To acquire the team, Fertitta paid $2.2 billion–a record for an American sports team. According to the owner, he was “lucky” to spend the money in order to obtain the franchise.
Fertitta’s fandom dates back to junior high school when he listened to the San Diego Rockets on the radio. At the time, the Rockets had stated their intentions to move to Houston.
He will have a chance to watch his first game as owner on Oct. 17 when the Rockets travel to Golden State to take on the defending champion Warriors. The Rockets’ home opener is on Oct. 21 against the Dallas Mavericks.
Keep it here on AXS.com for more NBA news.