With Texas’ stay-at-home orders set to expire this week, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is excited about the opportunity to help improve the lives of many.
The coronavirus has kept the Houston Rockets out of action since March 10th, which is when they last played the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although we’ve been starving for basketball action, it was the right call for commissioner Adam Silver to shut down the league, as the coronavirus proved to be an unprecedented life-threatening pandemic.
The issue became much bigger than sports, as all of our lives were changed significantly, in different shapes, sizes, and forms. Many were suddenly unemployed as a result of the COVID-19, as the number of jobless claims reached 26.4 million, which represents more than 15 percent of the workforce.
Graduations, weddings, and surgeries were all canceled, as they became less important, in the grand scheme of things. The main priority centered around flattening the curve, and preventing the virus from spreading and getting worse. Like many others, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced a state-wide shutdown, which was imposed on April 3rd and is tentatively set to end on April 30th, which is Thursday.
On Monday, Abbott announced that he will in fact loosen the state’s restrictions and allow businesses to open back up this week. which brought a ray of excitement to Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. Fertitta had been working tirelessly to improve the lives of those in the community, as he’s provided food to first responders, volunteers, and hospital workers, while also creating an employee relief fund for his workers who had been impacted.
Considering Fertitta’s commitment to improving the lives of those who had been affected, it’s no surprise that he’s happy about having the opportunity to help provide employment to those who’ve struggled during this time. Fertitta spoke with Houston’s NBC-affiliate KPRC and had the below to say:
“I’m honestly most happy about putting employees back to work. That’s the greatest thing in the world. People were really starting to lose their mind and there was a financial burden on everybody. It’s just really exciting.”
Fertitta had been hand-picked by governor Abbott to join the state’s strike force team, which centered around strategically restarting normalcy in Texas, in the form of education, businesses, and culture. The Houston Rockets owner also made sure to make it known that just because this was the plan in Texas, that doesn’t necessarily mean this is the best course of action for every other state, case in point New York.
“If the governor of New York was telling me to open in New York, I would not open, and I’m the largest restaurant operator in Manhattan. I wouldn’t want to open there.”
Not only is Fertitta excited about being able to help improve the lives of others, but that he also wants to ensure the government makes the best decisions for the sake of everyone.
It’s also good that Tilman’s Houston Rockets will be able to resume working out at the team facility this week, as that’s certainly a reason for optimism. But Fertitta also spoke about the harsh reality that the league will likely be without fans whenever the action resumes.
“Its gonna be tough for the fans,” Fertitta said. “But we want it still to be safe for the basketball players, baseball players, and football players whenever we do start playing sports again.”
This will likely be the key to getting any semblance of sports action started again, which will also have an impact on the players. As Rockets forward Danuel House stated, many of the players play for the fans, so that will certainly be an adjustment.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James echoed those sentiments, stating that he wouldn’t want to play without fans, which further illustrates the effect the fans have on the players. But Fertitta also emphasized the importance of being safe and keeping the players healthy.
Fertitta added, “We’re all looking forward to the NBA season and all sports, but we want it to be healthy for everybody.”
Fertitta is certainly correct about the fact that we’re all beyond excited about having sports again, and especially during a global crisis such as the coronavirus. It’s been on display countless times how sports can improve people’s lives, simply by taking their mind off of what’s going on around them. We’ve also seen how sports can improve communities, which was illustrated in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the city of Houston.
Although it’s certainly no replacement for the losses many suffered, it was certainly uplifting to see the Houston Astros win the World Series, not to mention the success that the Rockets had that season.
The Houston Rockets set a franchise record for wins during the subsequent season after the storm, which was during the 2017-18 season. The Rockets also had the top seed in the Western Conference and appeared primed to make it to the NBA Finals, were it not for one fateful injury.
But all in all, Tilman is right; we’re all looking forward to the NBA season resuming, and if we have to take it without fans, so be it. At least we’ll have something to distract us and take our minds away from the pandemic.