The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
High-fiving, energetic Steve Ballmer debuts as LA Clippers owner, vows not to move team
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Sweating, clapping and shouting until he was nearly hoarse, Steve Ballmer introduced himself to Los Angeles Clippers fans at a rally on Monday celebrating his new ownership of the NBA team.
The former Microsoft CEO made his way through the crowd inside Staples Center to Eminem's "Lose Yourself," exchanging high-fives and chest-bumping as he took the stage in front of 4,500 fans.
Ballmer paid a record $2 billion for the team in a sale that was confirmed by a judge last week. The name of disgraced former owner Donald Sterling, who controlled the team for 33 years before being banned for life by the NBA for racist remarks, was never uttered during the rally.
"We're looking forward," Ballmer proclaimed, having removed his blue Clippers hat. "Everything is about looking forward."
Ballmer's fervour was in stark contrast to Sterling, who never spoke to the media and was famously frugal when it came to spending on the team during decades of losing — despite having amassed a fortune through real estate.
"Today is about this other guy who just happened to have two billion dollars in his pocket," coach Doc Rivers joked on stage. "I asked him are you sure it went through and he said, 'I know my bank account is minus two billion so I know something went through.'"
Ballmer gave out his email address during the televised rally and was quick to assure fans he won't move the team to Seattle, where he's lived for 34 years. He was nearly an NBA owner last year before league owners chose to keep the Kings in Sacramento, rather than allow them to be sold to a group that included Ballmer and moved to Seattle.
"I love Los Angeles," he said. "Yes, I live in Seattle. We're not moving the Clippers to Seattle for a hundred reasons."
Ballmer used a microphone, but his booming voice easily filled the arena without it. He prowled the stage and gestured to make his points in the enthusiastic style he was known for among Microsoft employees.
"We're going to be bold. Bold means taking chances," he said. "We're going to be optimistic. We're going to be hard-core. Nothing gets in our way, boom! The hard-core Clippers, that's us."
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were among eight players on hand, along with Rivers, who guided the Clippers to 57 wins last season, his first with the team.
"When he came through the crowd, I literally had goose bumps," Griffin said afterward. "I don't know if there's one good word to describe him. I know all our guys are excited about the energy he brings. It's completely different."
Ballmer took a few emailed questions from season ticketholders, including a 26-year fan who asked how the next 26 years of the franchise would be different.
"I'll boldly say the Clippers will win many, many more Larrys in the next 26 years than they did in the last 26," he said, referring to the Larry O'Brien trophy that goes to the NBA champion.
Rivers clearly got a kick out of Ballmer's passionate display, cracking up at his new boss' proclamations after having previously seen him only on YouTube.
"I love energy," Rivers said later. "You get caught up in that and that's good. That was great for our fans."
Interim CEO Dick Parsons testified during the court battle over the team's sale that Rivers would quit if Sterling was the owner going into next season.
"Sometimes you do have to take a stand," Rivers said. "I didn't think I was going to have to (quit), but a lot of us were willing to for sure."
He added, "You always have to move on. I have."
Ballmer gave the title "owner emeritus" to Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, who negotiated the deal. She will receive two floor seats, 10 other seats and parking at Staples Center for games.
"Without her this deal does not get done," Rivers said afterward. "She wants to be a fan. She's no longer the owner. I'm fine with that."
Ballmer shared dinner with Rivers and some of the players a night earlier, when the discussion focused on where he'll sit during games. Sterling sat at mid-court within earshot of the players.
When someone suggested behind the Clippers' bench, like Dallas owner Mark Cuban does, Rivers said, "I don't know if I could deal with that energy."
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 31 articles for today)5:06 PM 0
MILWAUKEE - Rookie Jabari Parker speaks in the calm, measured tones of a 10-year veteran. A polished demeanour exudes confidence, ...
Photo Store Gallery
- 2014-15 NBA Northwest Division team-by-team capsules
- With championship No. 5 in the trophy case, San Antonio Spurs go back to the beginning
- All about Rondo for Celtics as they decide whether to keep or trade All-Star point guard
- Clippers upgrade roster in attempt to take next big playoff step this season
- 2014-15 NBA Atlantic Division team-by-team capsules
- Plumlee has 20 points, 17 rebounds to lift Nets to 99-88 win over 76ers
- Mayo scores team-high 24 points, Antentokounmpo adds 14 in Bucks' 120-107 win over Knicks
- Spurs overcome DeMarcus Cousin's 32 points and 11 rebounds for the win
- Timberwolves ready to start new era of basketball in Minnesota without Kevin Love
- Pacers' Vogel relying on basics to stay competitive after losing George, Stephenson
- The NBA's new glamour position: Assistant coach, suddenly in demand
- Younger brother of Philadelphia rookie centre Joel Embiid dies in Africa
- McAdoo scores 20, Barnes hit big shot in Iowa return and Warriors rally past Nuggets 104-101
- Mo Williams scores 19 points, Timberwolves beat Thunder 112-94
- FIBA says no positive doping tests at basketball World Cup and other major events
- Davis has 26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, Pelicans beat Rockets 117-98
- Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash injures his back carrying bags, coach Byron Scott says
- LeBron James scores 26 as Cavaliers beat Pacers 98-93, spoiling David West's returns to Xavier
- Louis Williams makes 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left, Raptors beat Celtics 92-89
- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich hits Suns owner Robert Sarver with 'chicken suit' jab
- Police sent to ex-Clippers owner Sterling's home by wife, find him with woman from recordings
- New Bucks coach Jason Kidd can draw an underdog experience in rebuilding Milwaukee
- Qatar women withdraw from Asian Games basketball tournament in protest over hijab ban
- Conversion to Judaism sparks unlikely journey to Israel for standout college basketball player
- Coach Blatt gets emotional win as James scores 12, Cavaliers rout Maccabi Tel Aviv 107-80
- Raptors seven-foot centre Valanciunas studied running with Oregon sprint guru
- The NBA's new glamour position: Assistant coach, suddenly in demand
- Isiah Thomas scores 18 as Suns beat Brazilian team Flamengo 100-88 in exhibition
- Wall scores 14 as Washington Wizards beat New Orleans Pelicans 94-89 in preseason
- Al Horford takes another step in recovery, says this is Hawks' deepest roster in his 8 years
Ads by Google