Landry’s, Golden Nugget Casinos, and now, the Houston Rockets. New Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has his hand in a lot of cookie jars, but what does that all mean?
After Leslie Alexander announced his plans to sell the team, many names came to mind. Mattress Mack, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming, or a combination of people. Fertitta was also on the list, and the swift pace of the sale is interesting.
Alexander sold the Rockets to Fertitta for $2.2 billion. No NBA sale has been worth more in history.
Fertitta tried to purchase the Rockets when they were up for sale in 1993, but lost out by $4 million to Alexander’s bid. Since then, Alexander has increased the value of the Rockets by sixteen times as much as he bought the team for.
A large part of the increase in value comes from the Rockets’ abilities to acquire stars, be competitive, and evolve into a global brand.
In Alexander’s tenure as owner, he has had eight Hall of Famers spend time in Houston: Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo, and Tracy McGrady. There are also two players with the Hall of Fame in reach currently on the roster in James Harden and Chris Paul.
Bringing some of the greatest players in the game to Houston has been one of Alexander’s strengths, and it is a reason why the team has been so competitive.
In his twenty-four seasons as owner, the Rockets have had only three losing seasons. He also has two Conference Finals appearances (‘97 and ‘15) and two championships (‘94 and ‘95). In the last twenty seasons, the Rockets have the second-best record in the NBA behind the San Antonio Spurs. This is not a matter of luck, it is the work of an entire organization, and it starts at the top with the owner.
The Rockets’ success is in large part to attacking the global market. Very few were keen on expanding the brand, but the Rockets were the first to take the leap.
They were the first to draft a Chinese superstar in 2002, and the drafting of Yao Ming allowed the Rockets to gain popularity in one of the largest untapped markets in the world. Now, China is filled with Rockets fans thanks in part to Yao Ming’s success and Alexander’s direction towards drafting Yao and bringing him to Houston.
Other acquisitions like Jeremy Lin and Mutombo have also created Rockets buzz all over the world, and it has allowed Rocket players to also grow their fanbase, most notably T-Mac and Harden.
The international brand of the Rockets mirrors the city filled with diversity and people from all different countries and cultures. The Rockets appeal to the city because of the diversity and the city has responded extremely well. The Rockets have not been as popular in the city of Houston since the Clutch City championship days. Could that be a sign of things to come?
Leslie Alexander was one of the greatest owners in all of sports, and now it is up to Fertitta to take the reins and fill in the shoes. They are giant shoes to fill, but Fertitta seems determined to make it work and bring the Rockets to the top of the basketball world once again.