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It’s official: Tilman J. Fertitta owns the Houston Rockets

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It was a surprise when Leslie Alexander put the Houston Rockets up for sale, but there were 2.2 billion reasons it turned out to be a good deal for him.

Last week the NBA Board of Governors (the owners) approved the sale and Houston businessman Tilman J. Fertitta is now officially the owner of the Rockets. The sale closed on Friday. Alexander bought the team for $85 million in 1993.

“I could not be happier,” Fertitta said in a released statement. “To own the Rockets in my hometown of Houston is a dream come true.  I promise to continue to make this city proud of the Rockets and to do what we can to bring home a championship.”

Fertitta was a minority owner of the team back in the 1980s. He has gone on to make his fortune as the owner of the Landry’s restaurant empire — Bubba Gump, Mortons, Rainforest Cafe, and others — as well as the Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels. There are no other minority owners in the transaction as of now (there were celebrities such as Houston native Beyoncé interested in that role).

“I have been friends with Tilman since 1993, so it is my great honor to announce that Tilman and his family have been able to fulfill their dream of owning the Houston Rockets,” Alexander said in a statement. “Tilman’s passion, commitment to excellence, and unrivaled love for the city of Houston are going to serve him well as a great owner of this proud franchise.”

Fertitta takes over a franchise that is $2.5 million over the luxury tax line for this season, with that number likely to spike as Chris Paul becomes a free agent next summer (assuming the Rockets plan to keep him, likely with a max or near max contract). The Rockets also turned a $53 million profit last season, according to an internal NBA report leaked to ESPN. Will Fertitta continue to spend money to keep a contender on the court? Probably, he said he wants to bring the city a title (and that will cost), but any time a new owner takes over it’s something to watch.

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.