Entrepreneurs

Mark Cuban says Tilman Fertitta ‘got a bargain’ buying the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion

Businessman Mark Cuban listens as he is introduced at the South by Southwest Music Film Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, March 12, 2017.
Brian Snyder | Reuters
Businessman Mark Cuban listens as he is introduced at the South by Southwest Music Film Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, March 12, 2017.

Billionaire to billionaire: Mark Cuban says restaurateur Tilman Fertitta "got a bargain" buying the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion.

In 2000, tech titan Cuban bought the Mavericks for $280 million. So Cuban has firsthand understanding of the business of basketball.

Though Forbes valued the Rockets at $1.65 billion earlier this year, Cuban says Fertitta's multibillion-dollar price tag was a good deal for the NBA team because of the opportunity to distribute and sell premium content.

"The streaming world is going to make destination live content even more valuable," says Cuban, speaking with SB Nation's Mavs Moneyball, an online community for Dallas Mavericks fans.

Fertitta has history with the Rockets, but the star of CNBC's reality show, "Billion Dollar Buyer" made his billions buying failing restaurant chains and rebuilding them into thriving brands. His Houston-headquartered company, Landry's Inc., includes Landry's Seafood, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Morton's The Steakhouse and Golden Nugget Casinos.

Cuban, who also invests in start-ups and stars on ABC's "Shark Tank," has some advice for Fertitta: "Trust yourself. Be yourself and have fun," Cuban says.

Admittedly, Cuban didn't know how to run a basketball team when he bought the Mavericks.

"I tried to run the Mavs like a startup." -Mark Cuban, self-made billionaire, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

"I had no clue what to expect. I just approached it like any other company of mine. I was going to bust my a--, innovate and put everyone around me in a position to succeed," Cuban tells Mavs Moneyball. "And then cross my fingers and hope for the best."

The expectation was that he would operate according to precedent for team owners: Write checks. Period. Instead, Cuban became intimately involved, immersing himself in the team and the business.

Tilman Fertitta, Billion Dollar Buyer
Source: CNBC
Tilman Fertitta, Billion Dollar Buyer

"I tried to run the Mavs like a startup," he says. "We brought in 10 former players to help develop our players. People laughed at me. I sat next to the bench and listened into huddles. If it made sense to be in sales and management meetings and learn how people interacted, it made sense to listen in to huddles during a game and learn.

"I challenged all conventional wisdom. Some people, like Jerry Buss [the owner of the L.A. Lakers], really supported me. Others did everything possible to get me out."

Cuban's strategy has paid off. In 2011, the Mavericks won the NBA championship. And currently, the team is valued at almost $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.

See also:

12 hard-earned life lessons from a self-made billionaire who started with a $6,000 loan

Self-made billionaire Tilman Fertitta shares his best advice for 20-somethings

How Mark Cuban went from a working-class family in Pittsburgh to a self-made billionaire

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Disclosure: Tilman Fertitta is the host of CNBC's "Billion Dollar Buyer." Also, CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."