By Joshua Reese
Houstonian billionaire Tilman Fertitta when the Houston Rockets were first up for sale more than 20 years ago, came pretty close to purchasing the team but was beat out by a lawyer from New York, Les Alexander.
Now Feritta again has a chance to buy the Rockets, this time he’ll be buying it from Alexander, and for a much steeper price than when he tried to buy the team back in the 1990’s.
Fertitta is very involved in Houston sports, the billionaire is the chairman of the Universtiy of Houston board of regents and he’s very outspoken and passionate about his program.
During the Houston Cougars bid to join the Big 12, Fertitta called the process “a sham” as they’d ultimately end up staying put when the Big 12 did not add members to the conference. Fertitta was also very outspoken when Tom Herman started flirting with other schools, the billionaire said the Cougars would not be out spent to keep him in town.
When you think about what makes a great owner, honestly, it’s pretty much the example Alexander set over the past couple of decades; do whatever it takes to win, and Fertitta seems to have that same gene.
It maybe on the college level and not the pros, but he’s trying his best to make the Cougars a top tier program in college athletics.
Now he has a chance to bring that same passion and fire to the Rockets.
The obstacle in Fertitta’s path is he’s not the only person interested in purchasing a turn-key franchise that has been to the playoffs for five straight seasons, and by all accounts could be the second best team in the West.
Just locally people are coming out of the woodworks to try and put groups together to purchase the team.
Fertitta has the money to buy the team outright from Alexander, but he could open it up to a few select partners and team up to run the franchise.
Dikembe Mutombo per Fox 26’s Mark Berman, is interested in trying to put together a group and purchase the team.
Yao Ming has not thrown his name into the ring yet, but as he already owns a team in China, the Shanghai Sharks, it’s not a stretch to think he’d be interested in putting a group together like Mutombo and getting into the NBA once again.
Fertitta could have a lot of tough competition for the Rockets, but if he brought in some wealthy and influential ex-Rockets like Yao, Mutombo or even Hakeem Olajuwon, it would help eliminate other buyers from the process as well as help give fans a small sense of ownership.
Every day people aren’t going to be able to afford to buy the Rockets or even buy some small share, but having players who fans grew up watching, loving, come back into the franchise once more, will give the city a strong sense of pride.
Fertitta has the passion that fans will love, combine that with loveable players like Mutombo and or Yao, and you have yourself a massively – no pun intended – likable ownership group.
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