Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer listens to
questions from the media during a news conference held after
the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Los
Angeles. Ballmer paid a record $2 billion for the team in a
sale that was confirmed by a judge last week.
LOS ANGELES —
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.
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
looking forward," Ballmer proclaimed, having removed his blue
Clippers hat. "Everything is about looking forward."
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.
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
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
"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.
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.
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
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.
got a kick out of Ballmer's passionate display, cracking up at his
new boss' proclamations after having previously seen him only on
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
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."
"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.
this deal does not get done," Rivers said afterward.
"She wants to be a fan. She's no longer the owner. I'm fine
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.
suggested behind the Clippers' bench, like Dallas owner Mark Cuban
does, Rivers said, "I don't know if I could deal with that