Leslie Alexander Puts Houston Rockets Franchise On the Market
Brian Barefield | 7/21/2017, 8:30 a.m.
“It’s been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years.” These were the words spoken by current Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander in a prepared statement as he announced his plans to sell the franchise. Alexander purchased the team in July 1993 for $85 million (currently valued at $1.65 billion) from Charlie Thomas. The sale of the team came right after the Rockets were coming off a grueling seven game series against the Seattle Supersonics and it came at a time when Houston was in desperate need of an identity.
Alexander must have been the breath of fresh air because the team went from 15-0 to begin the 1993-94 season and made it to the NBA Finals. Houston would go on to defeat the New York Knicks to win its first championship in franchise history. The Rockets were not satisfied with just one title, as they were crowned champions for the second year in a row after the 1994-95 season.
“I have had the incredible opportunity to witness true greatness through the players and coaches who have won championships for the city, been named to the All-Star and All-NBA teams, enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and done so much for our franchise and our fans,” said the Houston iconic owner. Alexander was the original owner of Houston’s first and only WNBA franchise (Houston Comets), and it was business as usual for the owner, as the Comets won four consecutive WNBA titles (1997, 98, 99, & 2000).
At 73 years old, most speculated that he was stepping away from ownership due to health reasons. This is far from the truth. Alexander’s health is fine. He decided to step away to focus more on his family and philanthropy. The things that has always been more important to him than basketball operations. Mr. Alexander has vowed to continue to provide support to the charities that are close to him and honor the commitments made to the city of Houston. The Clutch City Foundation, founded in 1995, has contributed more than $35 million dollars to various charities throughout the city.
“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,” said Alexander. “I’ve made this decision after much deliberation with my family and friends, and do so knowing the franchise is in great shape with players, coaches and management team in place.
Never one to shy away from doing whatever it takes to make the franchise better. The Rockets organization led by the owner took another major step this off season by acquiring future NBA Hall of Famer PG Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers. This acquisition was no surprise to Houston fans as they have seen many big name stars come through “Clutch City” under Alexander. Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Tracy McGrady and Dwight Howard are just a few of the players that have put on a Rockets uniform.
No player has made a bigger impact outside of Hakeem Olajuwon for the Rockets than current mega-superstar James Harden who was traded to the team in the summer of 2012. Alexander just re-signed Harden to a four-year contract extension ($228 million), which is the richest extension in NBA history. He also is in continuous talks with the New York Knicks to acquire superstar Carmelo Anthony to form Houston’s version of the “Big Three.”
It all goes to show that the current owner will not leave the team without players to compete on the highest level. Potential buyers include CEO of Landry’s Inc. Billionaire Tilman Fertitta, Jim McIngvale owner of Houston’s Gallery Furniture, and former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo. “It’s one of the best franchises right now. It’s really the right time,” said Mutombo.