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Tilman Fertitta unwilling to sell team to minority partners despite mass furloughs

Rockets

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta recently furloughed 40,000 of his employees at his casino, hotel and restaurant empire to ease the economic impact the government-mandated shutdown would have in his businesses.

The entrepreneur recently drew criticism from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, a Rockets beat writer, who noted Fertitta was unwilling to sell part of the team to minority partners “as a matter of pride.”

This criticism does not come as a surprise, considering how Fertitta has run the Rockets since buying the franchise from former owner Les Alexander.

Fertitta has put an emphasis on staying under the tax and has made himself into an owner that doesn’t shy from the cameras. He’s often appeared during playoff games and even given thoughts on the Rockets’ recent loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 playoffs, as well as the potential re-upping of coach Mike D’Antoni’s contract.

That has also opened him to receive plenty of criticism.

The Texas native, who owns the chain of Golden Nugget casinos, as well as hundreds of restaurants under the Landry’s Inc. umbrella, called on the authorities to allow businesses to reopen at a limited capacity in a couple of weeks to avoid what could be chaotic for his empire.

He also has talked with banks about raising as much as $200 million of additional liquidity “as a little bit of insurance.”

“We are doing basically no business,” Fertitta said. “I want to hire every employee back. This is very hard on a lot of working families but we have to survive or there is no company.”

Fertitta has furloughed nearly 70% of his employees, according to Bloomberg, yet his refusal to have some minority partners help take the ease off his expenses can be seen as mind-numbingly irresponsible.

Having some partners to help ease the financial burden of capital loss can go a long way in serving the NBA regular-season hiatus. Yet there is no remedy for pride if that is indeed his reasoning for it.