The Houston Rockets are for sale.
Team CEO Tad Brown made the announcement at a news conference that owner Leslie Alexander decided to sell the club in the past few days.
Brown told reporters in Houston that Alexander told him: “It can wear on you after so many decades.”
Alexander bought the Rockets prior to the 1993-94 season for $85 million. Forbes recently valued the franchise at $1.65 billion.
The 73-year-old businessman and financier won back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995 in his first two seasons as team owner and has spent more than two decades trying to get his team back to the top of the NBA.
The trademark of Alexander’s ownership has been a constant pursuit of stars. The team made a blockbuster trade on Valentine’s Day in 1995 to acquire hometown hero Clyde Drexler, who was a key factor in the second championship. Under Alexander, the Rockets have also acquired Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady, James Harden and just last week traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul. Alexander’s Rockets also made worldwide headlines in 2002 when they made Yao Ming of China the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Alexander recently gave general manager Daryl Morey a new contract and also signed Harden to an extension that was the richest contract in NBA history at $228 million.
“It’s been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years,” said Alexander in an official team release. “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.”