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How Houston Rockets’ Fertitta has mismanaged the COVID-19 crisis

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 26: Owner Tilman Fertitta of the Houston Rockets waves to the crowd after the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Toyota Center on October 26, 2019 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 26: Owner Tilman Fertitta of the Houston Rockets waves to the crowd after the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Toyota Center on October 26, 2019 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
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As the NBA has been forced to suspend operations due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, here’s how Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has mishandled the situation.

As we all know by now, the Houston Rockets‘ season has been delayed, as the NBA has suspended play due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Although this has forced NBA fans to adapt to life without basketball, the league made the right decision in doing so, as health and safety is more important than basketball, or any sport for that matter.

Immediately after the decision was announced, the basketball world had a number of questions. How long would it be before the league resumed play? Will the players still be paid? And what about the arena workers and concession workers?

Unfortunately, there haven’t been answers to any of these questions, barring NBA commissioner Adam Silver stating that the league would be suspended for at least 30 days. Although the league hasn’t determined how the arena personnel would be compensated, it didn’t prevent owners from taking matters into their own hands.

Case in point, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who immediately decided to compensate the arena employees out of his pocket. What about the Houston Rockets? Although it took 48 hours for the Rockets to comment on the matter, we did ultimately hear Rockets CEO Tad Brown, say they were “putting together a plan.”

For starters, what does that mean? And what exactly is there to figure out that hasn’t already been determined within 48 hours?

On top of that, why didn’t we hear anything from Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta regarding the matter, considering how outspoken he’s been throughout all of this. In fact, Fertitta has made it abundantly clear what his top priority was: profits.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Rockets were against having games without fans, which seems like another Tilman move, considering how he’s placed such an importance on profits. In fact, Tilman had some interesting comments about how the COV19-ID has impacted his businesses in China as well, as courtesy of CNBC’s Jabari Young.

I’m off by a million in revenue per day, which is on a base of $12 million per day in restaurant sales. But the last million in sales is the most profitable. That’s where your heavy profit is, so you have to cut expenses. And you can only cut labor.

Fertitta spoke about how he’s been cutting labor at his businesses to make up for the one million he’s been losing in profits per day due to the COVID-19. That’s the exact opposite of what he ought to be doing in a time like now, especially for the sake of the workers, who have families to take care of.

Not to mention the fact that many of them are making minimum wage, which is already difficult as is. To Fertitta’s credit, he was answering a question that he was asked, but there’s far greater effects of this situation than the profits of his restaurants.

It’s also not the right time to be thinking about his sales/profits, especially for someone as wealthy as him. According to Forbes, Fertitta has a net worth of 4.6 billion, why is why Rockets fans have gotten so frustrated with his annual unwillingness to pay the luxury tax.

But since Fertitta is so financially endowed, why all the talk about lost profits? Especially at a time like now? This could have been a great way for Fertitta to change the perception and narrative of him, which is that he’s a hard-bargaining, penny-pinching owner, who places profits above all else.

But instead, he’s prompted more questions. Why did it take 48 hours for the Houston Rockets to announce they were trying to formulate a plan to take care of the arena workers? What was the hold up? And why is Fertitta tracking his lost profits at this point? Better yet, why is he reducing his restaurant workers’ salaries/pay during such a time like this?

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It’s hard to imagine how Fertitta could have worsened his image, considering how bad it already was, but he’s found a way to do just that.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.

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