Leslie Alexander was a self-made businessman and former owner of the Houston Rockets and Houston Comets.
He was born in New York City on July 30, 1943. Alexander was raised Jewish and now identifies as Agnostic.
He attended New York University and graduated in 1964. Alexander then attended Brooklyn Law School while beginning to trade bonds. The bond trading became very lucrative (and the beginning to his financial success) and he dropped out of law school. He later returned to school and graduated from Western State College Law School I 1977 (renamed as Thomas Jefferson School of Law).
From 1978 to 2009, he was a member of the California State Bar. His first job was trading options and bonds for the Wall Street firm, Lawrence Kotkin Associates. In 1980, he left to form his own investment company, The Alexander Group. He also owns an 18.5% stake in First Marblehead, a private student loan company.
In 1993, he purchased the Houston Rockets basketball team for $85 million dollars, which went on to win back-to-back NBA Championships led by center Hakeem Olajuwon (who was voted as the Finals MVP twice). Although the Rockets had some solid teams during his tenure, they only made it to the Conference Finals three more times under his ownership, and were unable to make it to the Finals again.
In 2006, Forbes named him NBA’s Best Owner.
In 2017, he sold the team for $2.2 billion dollars – 25 times what he had bought it for. Although he sold the team, he kept the trophies from both championships; the trophies used by the Rockets for various media events are replicas.
In 1997, Alexander purchased the fledgling Houston Comets of the WNBA. The Comets were the first WNBA powerhouse team, winning four WNBA Championships during their first four years in existence (led by Hall of Famers Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes). The team made the playoffs in nine of the ten years of Alexander’s ownership. The team folded two years later.
In 2006, Alexander appeared on the Forbes 400 list for the first time due to his continued businesses, investments, and stake in his sports enterprises. He is also known for his philanthropy, donating and helping to raise millions of dollars for the Houston community and animal advocacy organizations.
[Last Updated: 4/21 by Aryeh Lev]
Sources: “Leslie Alexander,” Wikipedia.
“#1750 Leslie Alexander,” Forbes.com.
“Hakeem Olajuwon,” Basketball-Reference.
“Houston Comets,” Basketball-Reference.
“Houston Rockets Playoff History,” Real GM.
David Barron, “Leslie Alexander Sold the Rockets but Kept the Trophies,” Chron.com, (February 2, 2018).
“Leslie L. Alexander – Owner,” NBA.com.
“Leslie Lee Alexander,” Prabook.