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Leslie Alexander proud Yao will be honored during All-Star Game

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

During the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday the league and the Rockets will pay tribute to former Rockets center Yao Ming.

"I'm very happy," said Leslie Alexander, Rockets owner, in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. "Yao's a legend in this game. He brought the game world recognition and he also was a great player and the best thing about him now, he's an animal-rights activist.

"It's great for the franchise. It's great for the city. It's great for basketball and it's great for Yao."

The current face of Alexander's franchise, guard James Harden, has not officially said he will play in the All-Star Game.

He said his situation is day-to-day while he recovers from a sprained right ankle.

"He'll be fine by Sunday," Alexander said. He's young. He's 23. He's not 33.

When asked if he's certain Harden will be a go Alexander said, "100 percent.

"I think it's more important for James. James wants his place as one of the great players in the game, which I don't blame him, and I think it's really important for James."

Alexander could not be more pleased with the trade that brought Harden to the Rockets prior to the opening of the regular season.

"James is one of the great players in the game today, plus he's only 23-years-old. So we're going to have him a long time," said Alexander.

"It's going to be a great run, getting him and getting other people around him. We have some people who are terrific around him now. We need one or two more players and we'll be running for a championship."

The Rockets owner said Harden is even better than he originally thought.

"I'm surprised at maybe a little bit of his all-around game," Alexander said. "That he's such a willing passer and to be a great scorer, and how well he rebounds at the same time."

Center Omer Asik, acquired during the offseason as a free agent, has become an even bigger surprise to him.

"We knew he was going to be a good a player, but we didn't know he was going to be this good this early," Alexander said.

"I mean he's a great rebounder, protects the paint, much more athletic than we thought and he's huge."

Alexander also said he is very happy with second-year point guard Jeremy Lin, who was also a free-agent signing during the offseason.

"When you see the great games like he had against San Antonio, against New York in New York, the potential is there, but he hasn't played a full season in the NBA," Alexander said.

"He's very young and is going to improve dramatically."

The Rockets won their NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, the first two years Alexander owned the franchise.

He believes his team has the right formula to eventually get its third league title.

"I think we're the youngest team in the league, getting almost all new players this year," Alexander said. "We've done a great job of being over .500, probably going to be in the playoffs.

"I think we've done a very good job."

With the trade deadline on Thursday, Alexander said his staff, led by general manager Daryl Morey, is always looking to make the team better.

"The answer is always, I don't know," Alexander said. "Right now nothing's pending or anything close.

"We're always looking."

And Morey is the man who is on point in the never-ending search for talent.

I think Daryl is doing a great job," Alexander said. "He got Harden. We got Omer and Lin. He's done a great job."

He feels the same way about Coach Kevin McHale.

"I think he's doing a great job," Alexander said. "The team is running. We're using our assets the best way we can, and I think he's done very well."

Alexander beams with pride when he talks about Houston, Toyota Center and his organization hosting the All-Star Game just seven years after landing the event in 2006.

"I think the league loves Houston as a city," Alexander said. "They work well with the city, has the infrastructure they want, and they think the Rockets and (Rockets CEO) Tad Brown did a great job at handling  the event the last time and they know they'll do a good job this time.

"You want to be proud of your organization. You open the Wall Street Journal. They have a big article on Houston. Whereever you go Houston is on TV. Houston, Houston, Houston is in the newspapers.

"It's great for the city, fantastic PR."

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