The Houston Rockets was sold for a massive US$2.2 billion, the highest price ever paid for a team in the NBA. The team and the buyer, Tilman Fertitta, has announced the sale yesterday (September 5 Tuesday), however did not yet reveal the exact price at that time.
The previous record for an NBA team was back in 2014, when Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for US$2 billion.
Tilman Fertitta shall be the team's sole owner, and he calls this achievement a "lifelong dream come true." Fertitta is a Galveston native and a life-long resident of Houston. He owns Landry's restaurant chain, which includes over 500 restaurants, as well as the Golden Nugget casinos and hotels. Other than that, he plays host in a reality show Billion Dollar Buyer, in which he travels all over the country visiting small businesses with potential and contemplates on whether to buy them or not.
The man who will be walking away with the massive US$2.2 billion cheque is Leslie Alexander, who acquired the team in 1993 for $85 million. It was actually a close battle during 1993 between Alexander and Fertitta, and in the end Fertitta lost his chance to acquire his favorite NBA team when he offered $81 million, whereas Alexander bought the team for $85 million.
Under Alexander, the Houston Rockets have won two NBA championships
The extremely high price was formulated because the Houston Rockets are a successful and stable franchise, and led by basketball superstar James Harden, they won 55 games last season. It is also based in the nation's fourth-biggest city.
However, the value of each NBA team continues to rise all thanks to the influence of television dinero. The league has a 9-year, $24-billion deal with Turner Sports and ESPN. The deal almost tripled the annual revenue from the previous deal.
Fertitta said, "Leslie Alexander has been one of the best owners in all of sports, and I thank him immensely for this opportunity. He has the heart of a champion. Lastly, out of respect for the NBA's approval process, I can say no more other than I am overwhelmed with emotion to have this opportunity in my beloved city of Houston."
Alexander said, "I am excited to welcome and pass the torch to Tilman. He is a Houstonian, business leader and committed to the success and excellence of the Rockets both on and off the basketball court. I have personally known Tilman for over 24 years and don't think I could have found anyone more capable of continuing the winning tradition of our Houston Rockets."
Alexander, now 74, announced that the team is open for sale in July so he can spend more quality time with family and focus on his charitable endeavors.
Called "World's Richest Restaurateur" by Forbes, Fertitta's net worth has been reported to be around $2.8 billion.