NBA's Houston Rockets for sale, owner Leslie Alexander says

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(AP)

Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has put the NBA franchise up for sale, team CEO Tad Brown confirmed Monday.  

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"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."

The Rockets are currently worth $1.65 billion, which ranks eighth among NBA franchises, according to Forbes’ most recent valuation. However, Brown said at a press conference that Forbes’ valuations have been “very low” compared to final sale numbers, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Alexander purchased the Rockets in 1993 for a reported $85 million. The Atlanta Hawks sold for $850 million in 2015, in the most recent sale of an NBA franchise.

“Leslie Alexander is a true competitor who always searched for the right move to make his teams better. Under his ownership, he created a culture of excellence with strong management that attracted Hall of Famers, All-Stars and coaching giants and brought two NBA championships and four WNBA titles to Houston,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Well-respected around the league, he has been an active and influential owner whose vision helped to grow the game globally, especially in China. Moreover, his philanthropy speaks just as powerfully as his ownership, with local libraries, women’s centers and homeless shelters all benefitting from his generosity.”

Alexander took over as owner on July 30, 1993, and the Rockets went on to win back-to-back titles in 1994-95. In 24 seasons under Alexander, the Rockets have won 56.9 percent of their games, fifth-highest in the league.

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Brown said the 74-year-old Alexander had been approached over the years by potential buyers, but never considered it until very recently.

"I think it's been something he's been thinking about a little bit," Brown said. "It can wear on you after so many decades and he's tired. There are passions in his life now that are becoming more and more clear. His family, certainly, and his philanthropic efforts, what he'll be able to do with his additional time and his resources on a global scale is something that he's very much looking forward to."

Brown will be working with the league office while they look 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.

Included in the sale will be Clutch City Sports and Entertainment, which puts on non-basketball shows and concerts at the Toyota Center.

"It's a nice opportunity to have that rolled into one asset," Brown said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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