BLOG: Steve Ballmer and the Clippers

By Assunta Ng

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Image by Jun Liu/SCP

When I asked Steve Ballmer a question in public in 2011, it quickly created a storm.

It was at a Seattle Rotary meeting and Ballmer was the keynote speaker. The question was, “I read somewhere … someone suggested, ‘It’s time for Microsoft to change its CEO. Steve Ballmer needs to go.’ What’s your reaction to that?”

Instantly, Geekwire and the Seattle Times, who were both present, covered the event. The story spread wide and far. That was the last time I wrote about Ballmer.

Recently, we talked about Ballmer again because he is buying a basketball team, the L.A. Clippers, for $2 billion, all by himself.

Some Seattleites criticized the guy, as there is no chance the team will be moved to Seattle. Seattle will end up with no basketball team since the Sonics left.

For the first time, I agree with Ballmer completely. Two years ago, he was involved in a partnership with hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and others to buy the Sacramento Kings. It didn’t go far.

Ballmer made the right decision to go solo. If he laid down conditions for the deal, he would end up with no deal at all. Many multi-millionaire celebrities are salivating over the Clippers.

Only with massive wealth, decisiveness, and passion could he close the deal with owner Rochelle Stein, Donald Sterling’s spouse, so soon. With partners, it would just slow him down.

He has retired from Microsoft as CEO and his sons are grown up, so Ballmer has plenty of time. Just because he’s rich doesn’t mean he has to think for Seattle all the time. He deserves to think for himself sometimes. Of course, he deserves his toys.

Congratulations, Steve, for a job well done. (end)

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