Los Angeles Clippers' new owner meets fans

Last updated 12:52 19/08/2014
Steve Ballmer
Reuters

FAN FAVOURITE: LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer cheers with thousands of fans at his introduction as franchise boss.

Relevant offers

Basketball

Steven Adams used 'English card' to avoid serial trash talker Kevin Garnett NZ Breakers go down to Cairns Taipans to remain winless in pre-season Steven Adams ready to follow Russell Westbrook's lead as OKC pick up the pieces Steven Adams and his Stache Brother ready to show their growth in Oklahoma City Undermanned NZ Breakers walloped by Kings to remain winless in pre-season OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti gives little away on Steven Adams situation NBA cracks down on groin shots following Draymond Green's hits on Steven Adams Kiwi Paralympics bladerunner Liam Malone in race to better NBA star Steve Adams in the hair stakes 'Greek Freak' in driver's seat after signing US$100m NBA contract NZ Breakers still down frontliners as they head for final pre-season shakedown

With his trademark top-of-the-lungs, high-fiving, rambunctious enthusiasm, former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has introduced himself to Los Angeles Clippers fans, promising a new era for the NBA team after former owner Donald Sterling was banned for life over racist remarks.

Ballmer, 58, who paid an NBA-record US$2 billion (NZ$2.4b) for the Clippers, greeted the several thousand gathered at the team's Staples Center home with the primal screams that punctuated meetings at the Seattle technology company.

''I couldn't be more honoured or excited or fired up to be here,'' Ballmer exclaimed as he was welcomed with a standing ovation.

Ballmer, who said he would be a courtside fixture at games, took over the Clippers last week, ending Sterling's 33 years of ownership that were marked by decades of losing and second-tier status to local rival, the Lakers.

The NBA banned Sterling for life in April, days after his privately taped remarks imploring a girlfriend not to publicly associate with black people were published.

The remarks, which were publicised during the Clippers' playoff run, sparked public outrage, prompted sponsors to cut ties with the team and caused Clippers players, who are mostly black, to consider a boycott.

The 80-year-old real estate billionaire also unsuccessfully fought in court to keep the team after his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, struck the deal with Ballmer.

''Everything is about looking forward,'' Ballmer told the crowd, striking a tone about new beginnings for a team that finds itself for the first time as a playoff contender behind superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

'A GREAT CHANGE'

The playoffs came after the Clippers acquired top players in recent years. Now they were also in a position of commanding the off-season spotlight.

''We made lemonade out of lemons,'' Ballmer said alongside eight of the team's players who were in attendance, praising their performance last year during the Sterling saga.

Sterling's comments embarrassed the NBA and Clippers supporters.

''I think it's going to be a great change, a positive change,'' said Clippers fan Teri Renty.

''It's something we desperately needed, and it will really be great for the team in giving them the energy and the momentum to look forward to good things.''

The rally served as a restart for fans who were given t-shirts in Clippers red, white and blue that read ''We are Clipper Nation'' along with ''It's a New Day'' on the back.

Head coach Doc Rivers, who considered quitting if Sterling remained as owner, characterised the Ballmer era as one of relief for fans, who had for years been publicly reserved in their support for the longtime Western Conference doormats.

''Now they can actually say it and be proud of it, and I'm very happy for them,'' Rivers said.

''If we do it right, the name can stand for something.''

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers
Opinion poll

How do you expect the Breakers to perform in this season's Australian NBL?

Last season was a blip, they'll be champions once again

They'll go close to another title, beaten finalists I'd say

Playoffs for sure, but can't see them going any further

Not too excited, they'll miss the playoffs again

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content