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Steve Ballmer debuts as LA Clippers owner

Instant Awesome: Ballmer Fires Up The Fans

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 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 fervor 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."

Join the discussion

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moooooooooochelle August 19 2014 at 12:06 AM

QUEEN LATIFAH: A SECTION OF MY POOL IS FOR HAMMERED WHITE GIRLS

MICHELLE OBAMA: WHITES IN AMERICA ARE "INERADICABLY RACIST"

ICE-T: I DONT HATE WHITES I JUST GOT A DEATH WISH FOR THEM

SPIKE LEE: I WILL ONLY DO AN INTERVIEW WITH A BLACK PERSON

RICHARD WILLIAMS: SPIRLEA IS A BIG TALL WHITE TURKEY

CHARLES BARKLEY: THATS WHY I HATE WHITE PEOPLE

MICHAEL JORDAN: I WAS AGAINST ALL WHITE PEOPLE

MUHAMMAD ALI: ALL WHITE PEOPLE ARE THE DEVIL

TRAYVON MARTIN: CREEPY CRACKER

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8 replies
forkliftman53 August 19 2014 at 12:50 AM

ok all you busines owners now the govt can steal your business and make it sold no one is safe now who is next

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3 replies
Christopher August 19 2014 at 5:53 AM

I wonder if he is going to make sure all the players make the same money , use mass transit , live where he tells them to , decides the best healthcare plan for them and who their doctor will be. Stop them from being gun owners . Stop them from saying a prayer before the start of a game.
I'm sure he will make sure they follow all the rules while he sees his private doctor, flys his jet , decides which mansion to live in this week, gos out target shooting and drives his sports car at the track for fun before taking in a round of golf.. but hey , libs can do that because they know whats better for you than you do

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shamrock2u August 19 2014 at 2:33 AM

If ballmer has all that money to throw away, he should have first got his face repaired.

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steel_nuts August 19 2014 at 11:19 AM

Bring back steerling.
This guy is a joke

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Gere Minnick August 19 2014 at 6:12 AM

La la-lunatic! The guy sounds like a buffoon to me.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
minken August 19 2014 at 2:23 AM

Just ridiculous for Sterling to be railroaded. Those other owners now know.........they screw up and they can be destroyed.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
ferrariqx minken August 19 2014 at 2:26 AM

Trust me! Most of the other owners are already plotting how they can get $2 Billion for their teams too!

Hehe!

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Denver333 minken August 19 2014 at 1:59 PM

geez minken...railroaded doesn't seem to apply here...the criteria through which he was FORCED TO SELL may be derivative of our politically correct age...but filthy rich old men who dump their wives to hang with cheap young girls, need to have either insight or lawyers...this one was really lucky...he has a smart, and savvy, wife who acted quickly and decisively to protect the investment, and now the family coffers are, what? 2 billion richer? Everybody won in this one, even if a confused old geezer doesn't have the common sense to know it...even now, his biggest issue is that he can't fasten his Depends and hold court with his cheap babes...

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Tom August 19 2014 at 10:46 AM

Are we supposed to think this fool is a better person and owner than Sterling? Put him and Cuban in a rubber room and leave them there. Let's get on with professional sports.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Fred August 19 2014 at 10:02 AM

Just what we need, another big mouth screaming owner.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
George August 19 2014 at 9:47 AM

Wow this guy seems like a horses-ass, must be the water in LA.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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