Tilman Fertitta is good for a laugh every few minutes. The first-year Houston Rockets owner is holding court inside his Toyota Center suite before a mid-January game against the Golden State Warriors, sitting at the end of a table near CEO Tad Brown, his wife, Paige, 23-year-old son Patrick and media relations director Tracey Hughes. He’s discussing stressful topics, like the question of whether he’s ready to cut the massive payroll checks that will likely come with all this Rockets success. Yet Fertitta, the 59-year-old restaurant and casino magnate who paid a then-record $2.2 billion for the team in September, still finds his way into a pressure-relieving punchline. “One day when I close my eyes after having this wonderful life on earth, if I don't have a few championships I'm going to really be a pissed off son of a gun,” he says to a room full of laughs. You get the point, though. Fertitta wants the Rockets to reach the NBA’s mountaintop again.