Fertitta’s first act as owner: Enjoy the annual Fan Fest
Tilman Fertitta spent a part of his first full day as Rockets owner at Toyota Center being what he has always been — a fan.
Fertitta took in the annual Fan Fest and open scrimmage, getting another reminder of how his life had changed Friday when the transfer of the Rockets’ ownership was approved and he closed the deal to purchase the team from Leslie Alexander.
“It just feels different, even since I signed the contract,” Fertitta said Saturday. “And I’ve had full access with Les since he’s owned the team and before that with Charlie Thomas back in ’84-85. But there is a definite different feeling today than any other day.
“I just wanted to stop by Fan Fest for a few minutes and see how everything is going and just show the City of Houston, gosh, I love being a part of this. There’s nothing without our fans. We don’t have any fans, we all have an issue.”
Though it had been a certainty he would be approved and that he would close the $2.2 billion deal Friday, Fertitta described the start of his tenure as Rockets owner as a partnership with Houston.
“It felt great,” he said. “It was definitely a different feeling this morning. It’s a great day and it feels good. Everything is a relationship, in business and everything. This is a great relationship that I hope the City of Houston is as happy as I am. They’re my partner, and I’m their partner.
“I’ve been around a long time. I’m seeing (security) guys that ushered me around (in Paul Neveaux) that ushered me around when I was a minority partner back in the ’80s. Today is definitely a different day, this Saturday morning.”
Anderson likely to return Sunday
The Rockets hope to have Ryan Anderson back from a bruised hip Sunday, in time to play in the final three preseason games. Center Tarik Black, who was held out with soreness in his left knee, was away Saturday following the birth of his child Friday.
The Rockets’ starters won Saturday’s Fan Fest open scrimmage when James Harden hit a one-legged 30-footer at the buzzer, overcoming a late rush from Troy Williams who had hit a 3 and finished a put-back dunk.
The scrimmage was, as is customary, more of an appearance than a game, but most of the regulars played.
“It’s an opportunity for the kids and everybody, the Rockets fans to see a preview of us before we play,” Harden said. “The support since I’ve been here has been unbelievable.”
Gordon sizzling in preseason
Rockets guard Eric Gordon was greeted with “Sixth Man of the Year” at the team’s annual Fan Fest on Saturday. He could have answered to another description, as the Rockets’ top scorer of the preseason’s first two games.
Gordon has averaged 19 points per game on 60 percent shooting, splitting most of his playing time as shooting guard with either James Harden or Chris Paul at the point. Gordon has been checking in for Paul midway through the first and third quarters, staying in the game when Paul returns with about two minutes left in each quarter.
“It just creates … easier looks for me as they are on the floor,” Gordon said. “As long as everybody is knocking down shots, it’s going to be easier for everyone. When Chris and James play-make and us knocking down shots, it’s going to be a nice flow throughout the whole game.”
Paul has grown so accustomed to looking for Gordon, he called a play for him in the scrimmage.
“We’re not used to calling plays,” Gordon said. “He’s still adjusting, but he’s catching on quick.”
Rockets point guard Chris Paul, right, goes one-on-one with a young fan during the team’s annual Fan Fest at Toyota Center on Saturday.