“I’m big. I’m bald. And I am loud”.
This is how former Microsoft CEO and new Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer described himself to the New York Times a few years ago. If you’ve ever seen Ballmer speak, you would know that his self assessment is 100% accurate. While Clipper nation would love to look toward the future holds and what their boisterous new owner will bring, there is some remaining confusion about what course of action Donald Sterling is taking.
Let’s start with Sterling’s health. According to several outlets, namely Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, after undergoing several evaluations Sterling has been diagnosed with dementia. This has come among reports that Sterling will file a lawsuit against the NBA to the tune of $1 billion in damages saying his ousting was illegal. So although Sterling is out in Los Angeles, he will be a problem for the league in the foreseeable future. There is no doubt this lawsuit will get very ugly.
Now, let’s look to the very bright future for the Clippers. Yes, Ballmer sort of drove Microsoft into the ground, but there was a lack of ingenuity- how were they supposed to compete with Steve Jobs and Apple in the first decade of the 21st century?
All that aside, Ballmer gets fired up for everything. When speaking at tech conferences he runs around the stage screaming and yelling like a maniac. If he can get amped for discussing the intricacies of Windows 8, I would love to see his reaction to Blake Griffin throwing down windmill alley oop from Chris Paul. I’ve been saying this since the team has been for sale, the Clippers need an owner who will be a fan. They needed a Mark Cuban kind of owner, and with Ballmer’s personality they’ve found exactly that. He’s going to get fined for complaining about referees and stuff, but that’s what the Clippers fans want to see. They want to see the enthusiasm.
Another interesting aspect of Ballmer’s $2 billion dollar purchase is the additional expense the former Microsoft CEO could take on if he decided to attempt purchasing LA Live and the Los Angeles Kings. AEG, the group that owns LA Live and a part of the Kings, have reportedly made some of these assets available. So no, although Ballmer currently resides in Seattle he will not be relocating the team there, even though some have called for this.
The biggest question looming is the relationship he will have with Doc Rivers. Ballmer is a numbers guy, so their is a possibility he might want to see some advanced metrics implicated into personal decisions. While Doc and his staff aren’t always the fastest with in-game adjustments, they are not oblivious to trends an evaluating which players and lineups are more effective than others. A great example of this was the transformation of Jared Dudley from opening night starter to bench warmer.
Despite his somewhat unsuccessful stint as CEO of Microsoft, Ballmer is the right business man for the job. He dropped out of Stanford Business school at the request of Bill Gates and aided him in taking Microsoft to the top of the technological world in the 1980’s and 90’s. He is influential, he is intelligent, he is successful, but above all else he is passionate in whatever he does. It is Steve Ballmer’s passion which will make him a great owner of a franchise looking to move forward.