Houston Rockets sold to restaurant king for NBA-record $2.2 billion

The Houston Rockets have a new owner: restaurant mogul Tilman Fertitta, who has agreed to shell out $2.2 billion to acquire one of the league’s most exciting teams in one of the country’s biggest markets. The sale is pending the approval of the NBA’s board of governors, but given Fertitta’s status as a “long paper boss,” it’s all but a done deal.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets. This is a life-long dream come true.”

Tim Fertitta, via the Houston Rockets

Restaurant king Tilman Fertitta is the NBA’s newest owner. (Image source/Wikipedia)

You might not have heard the name “Tilman Fertitta” before, but you’ve definitely heard of the things he owns. For starters, he owns the restaurant corporation Landry’s Inc., which won’t be helpful until you realize that Landry’s owns Morton’s The Steakhouse, Rainforest Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks, Saltgrass Steak House, Claim Jumper, Chart House, The Oceanaire, Mastro’s Restaurants, Grotto Restaurants, and Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse.

In addition to his restaurant empire, he also owns Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels. Suffice to say he’s a boss, which is a pre-requisite for owning an NBA team. The league, if we’re being candid, is only interested in having owners that have the means to influence policy. Not policy in the NBA — public policy; AKA long paper; that “pick up the phone and call the governor” money. With an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion, Fertitta falls into that category. And the man loves basketball; he’s been sitting courtside at Rockets games for years.

Besides being extremely rich, he’s a sportsman and a thoroughbred Texan. The Galveston native was an original investor in the Houston Texans, where he was a partner in 2008. He tried to buy the Rockets in 1993 for $81 million, but the team ended up being sold to Les Alexander for $85 million, who Fertitta championed as “one of the best owners around,” indisputable since Alexander just sold the team for roughly 26x what he bought it for.

Billion Dollar Buyer on CNBC last year.

In a nutshell, the new owner of the Houston Rockets is a sports-loving, restaurant and casino mogul from Texas, which makes him the perfect guy to run a team that just might have a chance to make noise in the Western Conference.