NBA superstars James Harden and Russell Westbrook — both of whom play for the Houston Rockets — are both reportedly pursuing trades. Westbrook has reportedly "demanded" a trade, but new reports indicate that Harden and Westbrook want out of the Houston franchise because team owner Tilman Fertitta supports President Donald Trump.
What are the details?
According to TMZ, Harden and "many others" inside the Houston Rockets organization are exploring exit options because of Fertitta's political affiliations.
NBA insider Ric Bucher recently told "The Odd Couple" podcast that Fertitta's political support of Trump has resulted in a "revolt" within his organization.
"What I heard is — and we know how much politics and political position had to do with the boycott and protests during the Bubble — I'm hearing that Tilman Fertitta's strong Republican support and donations is one of the things that is contributing to this dissatisfaction, and those two [Westbrook and Harden] are not the only ones to want out of Houston. Lesser players are of the same mind," Bucher explained, Yahoo Sports reported.
"There is a revolt here because they look at Fertitta as a guy who supports the current president," he added.
What about Fertitta?
According to KTRK-TV, Fertitta donated more than $100,000 to Trump or Republican causes during the last election cycle.
[R]ecords from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show Fertitta donated to multiple Republican party campaigns — from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) to the Republican Party of Texas and the Trump Victory campaign, with the exception of a $10,000 donation to the Arizona Democratic Party in December of 2019.
This year, records show he made a $35,000 donation in February to the "Trump Victory" campaign; $35,000 in February to the Republican National Committee; and $35,000 in July to the NRSC.
After Trump's inauguration, Fertitta, a self-made billionaire restauranteur, was outspoken about his belief in Trump's ability to lead economically.
"Taking so much power away from the government and putting it back in business is going to be great for American capitalism," Fertitta told CNBC in 2017. "And why is America great? One reason: American capitalism."
Still, Fertitta has not unilaterally supported Trump or Republicans.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Fertitta told TMZ that Fertitta has supported both Republicans and Democrats.
"Throughout his business career, Tilman Fertitta has supported many individuals in public service. He has hosted numerous fundraisers for President Bill Clinton and hosted President George W. Bush in his home," the spokesperson said.
"Last year, he hosted a fundraiser for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee as well as supported his longtime friend, Mark Kelly, now U.S. senator-elect of Arizona. He also contributed to President-elect Joe Biden's campaign," they added.
"As a respected business leader recognized across the country, Fertitta supports many Democrats, as well as Republicans," the spokesperson said.