Owner Leslie Alexander is putting the Houston Rockets up for sale after 24 years of ownership.
Alexander bought the team in 1993 for $85 million. Forbes values the franchise at $1.65 billion — good for eighth in the league — with revenues 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. “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.
“And the Houston community has been home to me; 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. CEO Tad Brown will oversee the sales process with the league office, supported by my management team.”
The Rockets won the NBA title in the first two seasons after Alexander bought the team. In 24 seasons under Alexander, the Rockets have won 56.9 percent of their games, fifth-highest in the league.
Brown said the 74-year-old Alexander had been approached over the years by potential buyers but never considered it until very recently. In fact, a sports investment banker told ESPN’s Darren Rovell that he was “shocked” by the announcement because Alexander had never publicly expressed interest in selling.
Brown said he will work with the league office to facilitate things while the team looks for a new owner.
There is no set timetable for the sale, but Brown said they want to find the right buyer and won’t rush the process.
Interest in the Rockets might not be limited to the United States. Houston is the No. 1 team in Asia because of the popularity of former All-Star Yao Ming of China.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.