The Houston Rockets franchise of the National Basketball Association is for sale, its owner said Monday, in a move that could ignite new speculation of interest from billionaire Amazon Inc. (AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
The Rockets were purchased in 1993 by Leslie Alexander, a former bond trader and investment banker, for $85 million. The team quickly won back-to-back NBA championships thanks in part to Hakeem Olajuwon, a Hall of Fame center who guided the team for the better part of two decades after being drafted out of the University of Houston in 1984.
"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."
Forbes recently pegged the Rockets' worth at $1.65 billion, making it the 8th most valuable franchise in the NBA.
Last month, the team acquired All-Start point guard Chris Paul III as part of a seven-player trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and re-signed its star forward, James Harden, to a contract extension that will pay him a league record $228 million over six years.
The last NBA franchise to be sold was the LA Clippers, which were taken over by the league and commissioner David Silver after former owner Donald Sterling was barred from having any association with the NBA for his role in a racist conversation that was secretly recorded by his friend, V. Stiviano.
Former Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer ultimately acquired the Clippers in a forced sale in 2014 that netted more than $2 billion.
Bezos may be one of the names that may surfaces in the running for the Rockets, given his personal wealth of more than $80 billion and his ties to the Houston area, where he attended elementary school while his father, Mike, worked for as an engineer for Exxon.