Aug 18, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer at fan fest at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer quits Microsoft, off to a fast, loud start

Steve Ballmer truly wants to usher in a new day for his new company. The freshly minted Los Angeles Clippers owner has hit the ground running since his $2 billion purchase became official on August 12. After a raucous ribbon cutting of sorts at the team’s Fan Fest early in the week, news broke that Ballmer was stepping down from Microsoft’s board of directors.


This announcement brings full circle Ballmer’s long-expected departure from the company he joined in 1980. The 14-year CEO retired in February but still remains the company’s largest individual shareholder at eight percent. Ballmer expressed in a letter to his replacement Satya Nadella, that he has piled so much on his plate since stepping down as CEO that leaving the board is also a necessary step:

In the six months since leaving, I have become very busy. I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time… Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately.

Clippers fans, rejoice. In less than 48 hours we’ve seen firsthand that the team’s new owner is running in the complete opposite direction of the previous “clutter”. It began with the famous PR stunt giving out his Clippers email address on stage at Monday’s Fan Fest and continued with a declaration that the team would be more “hardcore”.

And now, by relinquishing the last of his Microsoft duties, Ballmer has backed up that fiery talk with immediate action.

This is exactly what the franchise needs, an emotionally invested owner who has made his name and fortune on inspiring innovation rather than preying on vulnerable apartment tenants. The Clips were on the brink of joining the real power players–Oklahoma City, San Antonio, (formerly) Miami–the last few years despite working under lame duck ownership.

Now, the longtime laughingstock of the NBA gets a shot of Red Bull to the arm. Think Mark Cuban without the combativeness. As I’ve postulated before, the West elite largely stayed put, which should give the surging Clippers reason to believe Ballmer’s addition can have a significant on-court impact. Though at 6’5″ he has the height to run point, the 58-year-old’s contribution will be mental and material for his players. He has their back and you could tell the difference on the players’ faces at the rally.

Even more interesting, with talk of civic engagement he wants the local fan community to know he’s got us as well. Judging by the multiple sanding ovations he received, #ClipperNation is right there with him. A Seattle guy at heart, he might have had a tougher time selling this message had he not just replaced pure evil. Now we just need these positive vibes to last while we sit on our hands waiting for the season to start. If we’ve learned anything from Hulk Hogan Ballmer’s appearance this week, he’ll be doing anything but waiting.

 

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Tags: Donald Sterling Los Angeles Clippers NBA Steve Ballmer

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