The apocalyptic scenario required for Tilman Fertitta to sell the Rockets
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has made his share of dubious decisions since purchasing the team from former owner Leslie Alexander. Furthermore, Fertitta’s restaurant empire has seen its share of troubles during this coronavirus pandemic, as the magnate has furloughed a bevy of his employees to keep the business alive.
Some have suggested he should sell part of his stake with the Rockets to allow for other sources of income, but the 62-year-old Texas native looks to be hell-bent on remaining the sole owner:
“The Rockets would never be sold, unless the whole world came to an end and then it wouldn’t matter, ok?” said Fertitta, whose Rockets (40-24) were tied for fifth in the Western Conference when the season was suspended, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. “If I ever sell the Rockets, it’s because we don’t exist anymore as a country with the rule of law. We’re having anarchy in the street, and at that point there’s no buyers.”
“There’s a reason that I made it through the ’87 financial crisis, and 2000, and the 2007 (recession), because I’ve always kept so much liquidity. It’s just like me borrowing $300 million a few weeks ago (at a steep rate of 13 percent, according to The Houston Chronicle), when I was able to do it when nobody else could at first. …Why not buy even more insurance? I have a huge amount of liquidity and a lot of different sources of income. I’m not happy right now (with the financial impact), but I haven’t taken an equity partner, I didn’t have to give up warrants to borrow money. …”
If it hasn’t been made evident in the previous two quotes, Fertitta doubled down on his unwillingness to seek a minority stake to have someone help him out:
“I don’t need partners so I don’t have partners,” said Fertitta. “There’s just no interest in having partners. I think all owners would love not to have partners, but not all teams financially can do that. I have the opportunity that me and my family can own this team 100 percent, and there’s no reason to ever change that.”
Other NBA owners have explored selling stakes to help them rebound from this unforeseeable situation, but Fertitta is confident that his liquidity will speak for him.
Still, even before this pandemic, Fertitta received criticism for not investing enough in the Rockets thanks to efforts to avoid the luxury tax, even with the team in the middle of a championship window with James Harden as the lead star.
As time goes on, we could soon find out if his mouth wrote a check that his team can’t cash.
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