Rockets reportedly sold for NBA-record $2.2 billion

Houston Rockets' playoff shirt for Leslie Alexander's last postseason as ownerTilman Fertitta has achieved his dream of owning the Houston Rockets, and all it took was an apparently record-breaking sum of money. Fertitta agreed to purchase the franchise from Leslie Alexander for $2.2 billion according to ESPN, which is more than anyone has ever paid for an NBA team.

The sale is not yet complete, pending approval from the NBA’s board of governors, but it represents a unique moment in Rockets franchise history. Forbes listed Houston’s value at $1.65 billion heading into the offseason following a third-place finish in the Western Conference, and the addition of Chris Paul has made the team even more of a title contender. Fertitta was apparently not alone in offering more than $2 billion—the previous record for an NBA sale, set when Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers—but he wasn’t about to lose out on another opportunity to own his hometown team.

Fertitta was also in the mix the last time the Rockets were sold. He lost the bidding war in 1993 to Alexander, who bought the franchise for $85 million. While Fertitta remained active in Houston’s professional sports landscape by investing in an NFL expansion franchise to replace the departed Houston Oilers, his passion was always with basketball, and he became a courtside fixture at Rockets games. It might be tempting for other NBA owners to look at how much Fertitta paid and inflate their own franchise values, but that price appears to be a combination of franchise value, expected performance, and one man’s obsession.

Announcement of the sale—which has been in the works for months—comes as Houston is dealing with the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, which tore through the city, causing record rainfall levels and severe flooding. Relief efforts are ongoing in the aftermath of the storm, which is estimated to have caused more than $100 billion in damage to the Houston area. Alexander donated $10 million to relief efforts, while Rockets star James Harden has pledged $1 million.