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Ultimate Standings 2009: No. 17

Last Year's Rank: 33
Title Track: 43
Ownership: 27
Coaching: 38
Players: 20
Fan Relations: 33
Affordability: 59
Stadium Experience: 49
Bang for the Buck: 16

Fans in the same city as NASA's Mission Control know a thing or two about takeoffs. They know that Bud Adams and his Oilers took off for Tennessee, which is why they've always been a bit leery of former Wall Street trader Les Alexander. But since buying the Rockets in 1993, the carpetbagging proprietor -- whom Forbes named the NBA's best owner in 2008 -- has bagged nothing but good things, including back-to-back titles (1994 and '95) and the hearts of Houstonians. He also bagged GM and Moneyballing MIT whiz Daryl Morey, who in turn bagged the two-headed power forward known as Scolandry (Luis Scola and Carl Landry). Their gritty play is fan friendly. But H-Town's latest and greatest takeoff involves season tickets, where the team has increased the number of $25-or-less seats from 3,422 to 5,059 -- a 48% jump in cheap seats. What's more, any season ticket-holder who renewed by March 30 gets a free pair of kicks autographed by Yao Ming -- the kind of flashy footwear you'll never want to … remove.