Hard Court to Candidate: Houston Rockets political capital

It’s that shit-grinning time in the NBA season where the winter lull has worn off, and the excitement of playoff basketball looms.

The best part of the regular season is always a testament to the NBA schedule makers’ genius. In the next few days, we get to see marquee playoff previews, MVP frontrunners on national TV, and a number of middle-of-the-pack teams jockeying for an advantageous seed. As a general rule, the intensity ratchets up right about now.

We at The Sport Lobby aren’t only interested in the on-court drama getting set to unfold, we like to get caught in the political identity of each of the teams as well. We believe – well I do anyway – that you can deduce a lot about an organization based on its political affiliation, even if the degrees of separation between a basketball player and a political one are distant.

Great example: The Houston Rockets. A team that embraces a progressive style of play. They’re fast, they’re analytical, and owner Leslie Alexander is always looking to stay ahead of the curve.

His political contributions illustrate a similar tendency. Open Secrets has logged some of Mr. Alexander’s political donations over the last decade.

CATEGORY CONTRIBUTOR OCCUPATION DATE AMOUNT RECIPIENT
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE L
HOUSTON, TX 77046
HOUSTON ROCKETS 06-07-2016 $1,000.00 Throne-Holst, Anna (D)
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE L MR
BOCA RATON, FL 33432
HOUSTON ROCKETS 09-30-2015 $1,000.00 Nikpour, Noelle (R)
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE
SOUTHAMPTON, NY 11968
HOUSTON ROCKETS ORGANIZATION 08-11-2015 $2,700.00 Wyden, Ron (D)
Unknown ALEXANDER, LESLIE
SOUTHAMPTON, NY 11968
HOUSTON ROCKETS ORGANIZATION 08-11-2015 $5,000.00 Holding Onto Oregon’s Priorities (D)
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE
SOUTHAMPTON, NY 11968
HOUSTON ROCKETS ORGANIZATION 08-11-2015 $2,700.00 Wyden, Ron (D)
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE L
BOCA RATON, FL 33433
HOUSTON ROCKETS 08-01-2012 $2,000.00 Farr, Sam (D)
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE L
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 09-21-2009 $2,000.00 Schumer, Charles E (D)
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE
BOCA RATON, FL 33432
HOUSTON ROCKETS 07-23-2008 $1,000.00 Skelly, Michael Peter (D)
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE L
HOUSTON, TX 77046
HOUSTON ROCKETS 03-04-2008 $2,300.00 Lampson, Nick (D)
Money to Candidates ALEXANDER, LESLIE MR
HOUSTON, TX 77046
HOUSTON ROCKETS 01-30-2006 $2,000.00 Jackson Lee, Sheila (D)

 

His money has primarily found its way into liberal Super PACS and democratic candidates’ coffers. Alexander’s biggest public donation came in 2015 to the aptly named HOOPs PAC – the full name is Holding Onto Oregon’s Priorities Political Action Committee. The action committee gave generously to democratic congressional hopefuls in that election cycle. The Houston Rockets face the Portland Trailblazers on the road tonight. Ron Wyden, the US Senator from Oregon that has received several thousands of dollars in donations from Alexander, is an unabashed Trailblazers fan. (He’s also leading the charge in investigating Donald Trump’s Russian connections and trying to save Oregon’s legal weed).


My theory can be debunked. I admit I’m guilty of cherry-picking a trend here. Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has a very different donation sheet, but he has explained himself in the past.

CATEGORY CONTRIBUTOR OCCUPATION DATE AMOUNT RECIPIENT
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL
HOUSTON, TX 77002
03-07-2012 -$1,000.00 Romney, Mitt (R)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL R MR
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 02-13-2012 -$2,500.00 Romney, Mitt (R)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL R MR
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 01-18-2012 $5,000.00 Romney, Mitt (R)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 05-02-2011 $1,000.00 Romney, Mitt (R)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 09-30-2009 $1,000.00 Pagliuca, Steve (D)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 12-31-2007 $250.00 Romney, Mitt (R)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 08-26-2007 $250.00 Romney, Mitt (R)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 06-27-2007 $250.00 Romney, Mitt (R)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 02-24-2007 $250.00 Romney, Mitt (R)
Money to Candidates MOREY, DARYL
HOUSTON, TX 77002
HOUSTON ROCKETS 01-28-2007 $250.00 Romney, Mitt (R)

In an email to New Republic in 2012, Morey explained why Romney was his sole political money recipient.

“I believe people focus too much on policy when making political decisions and not enough on selecting the best leader for the country,” Morey wrote.  “I would not select a head coach primarily because I agree with his choices for pick and roll coverage. I would select a coach who I thought would be the best leader of the team. His XO coaching philosophy would be important to the selection but not the most important selection criteria.”

Morey didn’t donate to any candidates in the latest election cycle.

In a futile exercise, TSL attempted to gain some insight into the Rockets’ roster’s political sway. The research led to a dead end. There isn’t a single player on the team’s roster that has their donations logged, but something tells me Patrick Beverly is a Bernie Sanders kind of guy.

 

 

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