Leslie Alexander sold the Rockets, but kept the NBA championship trophies

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Then-Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander holds onto the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy after the Rockets’ NBA Finals victory in 1994. (Getty)
Then-Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander holds onto the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy after the Rockets’ NBA Finals victory in 1994. (Getty)

When Tilman Fertitta forked over the princely sum of $2.2 billion to buy the Houston Rockets in September, he got the keys to a franchise in one of the United States’ five largest cities as well as full control of the operation of the Toyota Center, the Rockets’ home gym and a huge concert venue where you can see Journey and Def Leppard. We learned Friday, though, that he didn’t get everything.

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It turns out that outgoing owner Leslie Alexander, who put the team on the market last summer after 24 years of ownership, walked away with something in addition to his $2.2 billion: a pair of pretty cool trophies. From David Barron of the Houston Chronicle:

Alexander […] confirmed this week that he remains in possession at his home in Florida of the two Larry O’Brien Trophies he accepted for the team’s back-to-back NBA titles in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

“They’re here in a corner at my house,” he said during a brief phone conversation. “I haven’t decided how to set them up yet.”

Alexander had the right to take the trophies with him because the NBA presents its championship trophy to the owner of the team, and it is the owner’s prerogative to handle the trophy and display it as he chooses.

And, apparently, to take ’em with him when he leaves!

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A Rockets spokesperson told Barron that the team was “in the process of” order replica championship trophies to be displayed at the Rockets’ offices at Toyota Center and paraded out for public events with season-ticket holders. If you want to see the real deal, though, you’re going to have to get an invitation from your man Les.

“You want to win championships,” Alexander told Barron. “That’s what you’re there for.”

After shepherding his franchise through nearly a quarter-century of pretty consistent success, footing the bill for two NBA championships, and netting more than $2 billion of profit on his initial $85 million investment, Leslie Alexander’s bona fides as a successful NBA owner has long since been secure. But the fact that he secured the biggest bag in history AND kept both of his O’Briens makes him a truly irrefutable NBA legend. Salute to you, Mr. Alexander. We wish you nothing but the best in figuring out which room in your home is most in need of some bright, shiny centerpieces.

Hat-tip to my old boss J.E. Skeets.

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!

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