The NBA is in a better place today than it was a few weeks ago when TMZ released the recording of a phone call between then Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his … whatever she was. The leaked recording contained a plethora of racist comments from Sterling. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took quick action, banning Sterling for life and essentially forcing Silver to relinquish ownership of the Clippers. Finally.
According to multiple reports, former Microsoft CEO and multi-billionaire Steve Ballmer has purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 Billion dollars, pending league approval. Now, if anyone should know anything about ‘pending league approval’ or ‘Binding’, it should be Kings fans, but I’m going off of the assumption that Ballmer will own the Clippers sooner than later.
This is a good thing, by the way. Steve Ballmer is one of the wealthiest men in America, and now he’s the owner of an NBA team. Trading Donald Sterling for Steve Ballmer is a more lopsided victory for the NBA than the infamous three-team deal that landed the Kings John Salmons (with his ridiculous contract) and the #10 pick for Beno Udrih and the #7 pick was a lopsided victory for everyone outside of Sacramento. That doesn’t mean we can’t poke a little fun at Ballmer, though. He did attempt to steal the Kings from Sacramento, after all.
Actually, saying that Ballmer ‘attempted’ to steal the Kings from Sacramento doesn’t really do the story justice. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Ballmer “was a factor in Hansen secretly funneling money to a political action committee in Sacramento aimed at defeating the arena deal through a ballot measure”. Ballmer plays dirty.
And now that same Steve Ballmer owns an NBA team in Los Angeles. How perfect is that? Sacramento already has a deep-rooted rivalry for the other basketball team in LA. And now you’re going to tell me that the new owner of the Clippers used his own personal funds to try and derail Sacramento’s arena efforts? Amazing. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.
There has been a slow rivalry brewing between the Clippers and the Kings on the court for a few years now. DeMarcus Cousins has called out Blake Griffin for flopping, he’s called Chris Paul a cheater, and he somewhat famously stopped Isaiah Thomas from shaking Chris Paul’s hand after a game.
And now that rivalry includes legitimate issues between Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. I don’t really blame Ballmer for going after the Kings when they were up for sale, but trying to stop (pun intended) the arena deal after he’s already lost out on the team? That’s a little more personal. Vivek Ranadive has put millions of dollars and an immense amount of time toward making this happen, and Ballmer tried to sabotage it.
I don’t expect Vivek to say anything about it. That’s not his style. And the truth is, he may not even care. It’s over now, Sacramento won, and now Ballmer and Ranadive are peers. But just because Vivek has likely moved on, it doesn’t mean this didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be thinking about it the next time the Kings play the Clippers. It doesn’t mean the fans will forget.
The NBA rid themselves of a terrible owner who was an equally terrible person, and the Kings gained a new rival. We all win.