$2 Billion Later Ballmer Takes LA by Storm
Los Angeles Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer
By Steven Lieberman
Steve Ballmer, Clippers new owner, approached the stage at Staples Center today like a boxer making his way to the ring as all of his adoring fans lavished him with praise and high-fives. It's his first-ever Fan Fest, but you wouldn't have known it – he handled it like a champ. The only thing missing was the "Rocky" theme.
After subtracting his bank account by $2 billion in order to buy the team from Donald and Shelly Sterling, the former Microsoft CEO and tech wizard is ready to move forward and not look back. Now that the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared, Ballmer and his team can focus on winning "The Larry (Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy)" – their ultimate goal.
At one point during his presentation, Ballmer called over C.J. Wilcox and Reggie Bullock - Wilcox a rookie and Bullock one year into the league - and asked them what they thought "The Larry" is – they failed the quiz, but hopefully will know at the end of the season when the Clippers might hoist it up high over their heads. It was Head Coach Doc Rivers idea to mention "The Larry," obviously to motivate his team.
Before Rivers took the stage, Blake Griffin had this to say to the fans, referring to the turmoil and drama surrounding the sale of the team – "You have to go through some adversity to become even stronger." he said. "We are looking forward to the next part of the journey."
Then Rivers took the microphone and set the stage for his expectations this coming season.
"Last year was a good year...we want great," Rivers said.
At the press conference after the Fan Fest, Rivers went on to give kudos to the Clippers organization on how they handled the distraction caused by the sale of the team.
"I was just the voice for a lot of people around me that did a lot of work," Rivers said.
Ballmer, whose net worth is $21.3 billion according to Forbes, is a man determined to change the course of the tide, and that showed in his passion and enthusiasm which is highly contagious. He challenged the team with two themes he wants to be followed – "Be hardcore and demand excellence of ourselves."
Along with the fans, he is tired of the Clippers being the underdog to the Lakers and went on to quote Colin Powell – "Optimism is a force multiplied." – another one of Ballmer's themes for the future of the Clippers.
Clipper fans can feel grateful that Ballmer's negotiations with the NBA fell through to move the team to Seattle where he has been a long-time resident. He reassured everybody that the Clippers are here to stay and is excited about their future in Los Angeles.