The Houston Rockets were sold for $2.2 billion to restaurant mogul Tilman Fertitta, setting a new NBA record. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
Restaurant mogul Tilman Fertitta reached agreement to purchase the Houston Rockets from Leslie Alexander for $2.2 billion.
"I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets," Fertitta said in a release from the team. "This is a life-long dream come true. 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."
Fertitta, who grew up in Galveston and lives in Houston, is a local restaurant mogul and one of many celebrity-status suitors who made an offer for the franchise.
The 73-year-old Alexander bought the franchise for $85 million in 1993. Forbes valued the franchise in February at $1.65 billion -- eighth-most valuable in the league -- with revenue of $244 million.
"It's been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years," Alexander said in a statement Monday. "I've had the incredible opportunity to witness true greatness through the players and coaches who have won championships for the city, been named to All-Star and All-NBA teams, enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and done so much for our franchise and our fans."
Fertitta is the CEO of Landry's Inc., a company that owns restaurants, casinos, hotels, aquariums and a high-end car dealership.
This isn't Fertitta's first venture in pro sports ownership.
He was forced to sell his stake in the Houston Texans when the purchase of Golden Nugget casinos in Las Vegas was finalized.
Fertitta is the current host of CNBC reality show "Billion Dollar Buyer."
Alexander had immediate success as an owner as the Rockets won NBA titles over the New York Knicks in 1994 and the Orlando Magic in 1995 behind the play of Hakeem Olajuwon.
"The Houston community has been home to me," Alexander said. "I will continue to support the charities I have made commitments to throughout the years. I'll always have a special place in my heart for the fans, partners, city officials and employees who care so deeply for this team.
"I've made this decision after much deliberation with my family and friends, and do so knowing the franchise is in great shape with the players, coaches and management team in place."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement regarding Alexander's desire to sell the franchise.
"Leslie Alexander is a true competitor who always searched for the right move to make his teams better, Silver said. "Under his ownership, he created a culture of excellence with strong management that attracted Hall of Famers, All-Stars and coaching giants and brought two NBA championships and four WNBA titles to Houston.
"Well-respected around the league, he has been an active and influential owner whose vision helped to grow the game globally, especially in China. Moreover, his philanthropy speaks just as powerfully as his ownership, with local libraries, women's centers and homeless shelters all benefitting from his generosity."
Alexander put CEO Tad Brown in charge to "oversee the sales process with the league office, supported by my management team."
Alexander remains active in Houston. He donated $4 million to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts last week.