Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta on the rise of the NBA and spiral of the NFL

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta on the rise of the NBA and spiral of the NFL

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Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta on the rise of the NBA and spiral of the NFL

Tilman Fertitta stepped into the Toyota Center today ready to begin his reign as the new owner of the Houston Rockets. When he sat down to do his introductory press conference, he spoke extensively about the purchasing process of the team. In order to become the 100 percent owner, Fertitta had to put up a record $2.2 billion. When he was considering with his family whether this was the right decision, they mulled over a number of options.

Fertitta brought up some humorous options such as buying a spaceship (could $2.2 billion actually buy you your own spaceship?) and even mentioned looking at other leagues. While he said he wishes he could own the Houston Astros, who are in the middle of an amazing postseason run right now, it was interesting that he compared the NBA and NFL side-by-side and determined the NBA was the best purchase.

“I would’ve been scared to pay $2.2 billion for an NFL franchise at this point,” Fertitta said. “The NBA is where it’s at.”

Fertitta touched on one of the recent developments in professional sports: the NBA is beginning to take over. Baseball was at one point the most popular sport in America until it was taken over by football and the NFL. Since then, the NFL has dominated profits and has turned into one of the most lucrative industries to be an owner.

While this remains true, between the long-term injury risks and their stance on several issues of social and criminal justice (everything from their take on the national anthem protests to suspending players for marijuana use but being lenient against domestic violence), the NFL is losing support from both players and fans alike. Players are choosing to stand up to the hypocrisy and fans are more interested in seeing what they deem to be a more transparent league.

The biggest risk of all for the NFL is the obvious health risks; we’ve seen CTE becoming more and more of a factor as the years go by. Something that was undiscovered a couple decades ago has now become common knowledge for anybody who knows what the NFL stands for. Parents are taking their children out of football at young ages and players themselves are contemplating early retirement, giving up the game for their own health. While the acts of Aaron Hernandez are clearly deeper than CTE, it’s important to note that the alleged-murderer and late Pro-Bowl tight end had the most extreme case of CTE found in a player his age.

Football players are being hit nearly every play they’re in the game, starting from when they play Pop Warner as little kids. In high school, at times they’re taking huge hits with sometimes amateur-level technique. College football features pro-level hits. Once they make it to the NFL, they’ve already absorbed thousands of hits that could cause concussions and other injuries.

Without diving deeply into the intricacies of the NFL’s overall health, the NBA is in a position to take over and be the next great professional sports league. Whether you love or hate the job David Stern did as the NBA’s longtime commissioner, it isn’t debatable that he took the league to new heights. Whether it was expanding the league to a number of cities across North America or even spreading the influence of the sport to different continents, Stern turned the NBA into a global league.

When Adam Silver took over, he brought new life into the league, giving fans and those associated with the league a feeling that they’re next. The NBA has seen free agency periods that gave billions of dollars, collectively, to players. The Rockets’ James Harden just inked an extension that is set to pay him nearly a quarter of a billion dollars over the next five years; he’ll earn nearly $47 million in the final year of his deal at 33 years old. While guys who aren’t even defined starters in the league are earning $20+ million a year, NFL players are often cut from their teams the minute they get seriously hurt or regress because of their non-guaranteed contracts.

What’s more is that the NBA’s fan base is steady growing. The average viewer is significantly younger than their MLB counterparts and the NFL has turned into something of a polarizing league for fans. Whether it’s the political issues, the problems between owners and players or the constant stream of injuries that lead to a less-entertaining product, the NBA is getting ready for their time to shine.

Fertitta’s comments shed light on the opposite direction of the two leagues. The NBA seems poised to continue thriving, whereas the NFL’s future is up in the air. While Jerry Jones can go and sell the Dallas Cowboys right now for a profit likely larger than the $2.2 billion Fertitta spent, how long will the owner benefit from the purchase?¬†Fertitta explained that he wants his family to still own the team when he’s gone decades from now, and it seems that he isn’t even sure there will be NFL teams to own at that point.

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