Steve Ballmer’s enthusiastic pep rallies

Ballmer’s entrance as the Clippers owner on Monday was on in a long list of notable public appearances.

      
 

 

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WATCH: New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer gets wild at intro

It’s a new day in the Los Angeles Clippers franchise. Donald Sterling is out and Steve Ballmer is in as the new owner of the team, and he’s more than excited about it. During Ballmer’s introductory press conference he showed some great passionate energy that provided fans with laughs, smiles, and entertainment. He had the […]

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Steve Ballmer’s wild intro to Clippers fans

His level of hype is one that should be matched by the fans and players.

      
 

 

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Steve Ballmer, Clippers Start Washing Away Stain of Donald Sterling Era

LOS ANGELES — April 29, 2014 feels like a distant memory now for the Los Angeles Clippers and their fans, and not just because that day came four months ago.

That was the day that thousands of Clippers fans shuffled ambivalently through LA Live, past angry protesters and into Staples Center for Game 5 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors—their first home game in the aftermath of Donald Sterling’s explosive comments hitting the airwaves and sending shockwaves throughout the world.

Some were dressed in black that day. Others wore shirts denouncing the Clippers’ now-former owner. Everyone had something different to say about Sterling, the team and the NBA‘s response to the controversy.

All of that seemed little more than the remnants of a bygone era on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Just about every Clippers fan who streamed out of Staples Center after the team’s Fan Festival on this day had nothing but glowing reviews for the owner.

Not Sterling, of course, but former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

“I thought that Steve Ballmer was just superb and enthusiastic and wonderful,” said Aisha Mori, a Clippers fan since 2004. 

The Clippers themselves, including head coach Doc Rivers, referred to the Sterling debacle that resulted in his long-overdue ouster as “The Clutter” during the proceedings. 

The franchise was nothing if not “cluttered” during the Clippers’ second-round playoff run: cluttered with curious media reporting on a story that touched on a lot more than just sports, with fans, players and staff who weren’t sure how to feel and with controversy unlike any the NBA had yet seen.

That clutter was gone, replaced by a clarity of vision, purpose and passion brought to bear by Ballmer. His romp of high fives and chest bumps through the crowd on the way to the podium couldn’t have been more different than what Clippers fans came to expect from Donald Sterling in his public courtside appearances.

“He’s amazing,” Martin Fuentes, a season ticket holder since 2009, said of Ballmer. “He definitely energizes a crowd, definitely a real fan and [I'm] looking forward to the next season.”

Such words would’ve seemed not only unusual, but downright ludicrous if spoken about a Clippers owner at any point in the past 33 years. Sterling was almost universally reviled by Clipper Nation, forcing fans into an uncomfortable cognitive dissonance in supporting an enterprise that lined his pockets—and will do so even more now, with Ballmer‘s $2 billion payout enriching the Sterling family trust.

In truth, the Clippers might never be truly cleansed of the residue from the Sterling era. Ballmer sees no need to rename this team, despite its long history of losing for a man who’s become persona non grata in America. “The Clippers are the hottest brand in basketball pretty much right now,” Ballmer insisted at a press conference after the event.

The Clippers haven’t exactly untethered themselves from the tainted Sterling name, either. Shelly Sterling, Donald’s estranged wife, squeezed plenty of perks out of the deal she helped usher along, including a pair of courtside seats and the title of “Clippers No. 1 Fan” (h/t ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Arash Markazi):

Shelly Sterling’s reputation, beyond her official fandom, has also been called into question. According to The Los Angeles Times‘ Nathan Fenno, Sterling was party to the housing discrimination for which her husband was taken to court by the Federal Housing Administration in 2009:

In a 2009 deposition, a tenant at one of the Sterling’s apartment buildings in Los Angeles County said that Rochelle Sterling called him a “black m—f—” during a discussion at the building.

Ballmer, though, insisted that Shelly’s role in this process warranted some sort of salvation. “Without her, this deal does not get done,” Ballmer said.

Indeed, it was Shelly’s victory over Donald during a recent probate trial in Los Angeles Superior Court that paved the way for Ballmer to take control of the team.

Even with Shelly’s ongoing involvement, much has changed for the franchise’s identity since those fateful days in late April.

“It’s almost like now they can say it and be proud of it, and I’m happy for them,” Rivers said about those Clippers faithful who were wary of touting their fandom during those troubled times.

To that effect, Clippers fans have nothing to worry about now. Ballmer reiterated that he won’t be moving the team closer to his home in the Pacific Northwest. “Seattle is not where the Clippers are going to play,” he said.

Instead, he hopes to be leading “I love Larry” chants—many of which he led during the Fan Festival—down Figueroa Street. The “Larry” in question is the Larry O’Brien Trophy, which is awarded to the NBA Finals champion every year. 

If there’s any concern about Ballmer, it’s his lack of experience in the basketball world. “Everyone has more experience in what they’re doing than I do in what I’m doing,” Ballmer added.

Then again, he’s not unfamiliar with the NBA as an enterprise, to say the least, not after trying to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle in 2013.

More importantly, Ballmer seems to have the fire and the drive to cement the Clippers’ burgeoning spot on the basketball map. Time and again, he used the word “hardcore” to describe his approach to his latest enterprise.

“I love basketball,” Ballmer went on. “My passion, in a sense, is for things I get involved with.”

“I won’t be able to watch the Clippers dispassionately because I care. I’m involved.”

Which the Clippers and their fans never could and certainly won’t say now about their former owner…what was his name again?

A distant memory—that’s what.

 

Find me on Twitter for all the latest Clippers news and views!

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Steve Ballmer debuts as LA Clippers owner (Yahoo Sports)

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 18: New owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Steve Ballmer reacts to the fans after being introduced for the first time during Los Angeles Clippers Fan Festival at Staples Center on August 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Steve Ballmer has introduced himself to Los Angeles Clippers fans at a rally celebrating his new ownership of the NBA team.


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Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer Goes Ape at Fan Festival, Gives Out Email Address

Steve Ballmer absolutely crushed his entrance at the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday afternoon.

The newly minted Los Angeles Clippers owner fired out of the tunnel at the Staples Center to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” punishing hands and working the crowd like a professional hype man.

ESPN’s Arash Markazi and Fox Sports’ Jovan Buha recorded Ballmer’s entrance for posterity and uploaded the footage to Instagram. Imagine Donald Sterling’s court-side manner, but the opposite. 

All reports indicate that the former Microsoft CEO refused to simmer down after grabbing the microphone on the court.

Lofty promises were made.

The phrase “Boom, baby” made an appearance.

The former Microsoft CEO also gave out his email address on the Jumbotron.

I would’ve guessed “BallmIsLife” as his handle, but “SBallmer” works, too. 

In any case, the Steve Ballmer era with the Clippers is off to an emphatic, teeth-grinding start. Ballmer, who picked up the Clippers for an NBA record $2 billion this month, appears ready to set a new tone for his franchise.

I do feel bad for Mr. Ballmer’s assistant, though. Tending that email address just became a full-time job.

 

Follow Dan on Twitter for more sports and pop culture news.

 

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Los Angeles Lakers: Time for Steve Nash to step up

Steve Nash is one of the best point guards I’ve ever had the privilege of watching in his prime. On the court he was a conductor with the basketball, orchestrating the pace of the game, and elevating his teammate’s play. Injuries have cost him the last two seasons with the Lakers and, although he is clearly past his prime, the Lakers need more than someone playing out his contract ($9.7 million) year. Steve Nash needs to step up in his final season utilizing his experience and on-the-court leadership to give a lift off the bench to help turnaround a 27-55 season.
When the Lakers traded for Steve Nash during the 2012 offseason, the initial thought was that the Suns had lost out on their franchise cornerstone. Little did anyone know that an injury in his first season with the Lakers would reduce Nash’s ability to play with the explosive speed like the younger point guards that are creating havoc around the league (e.g. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry). Giving up 2013 and 2015 first round picks along with two 2

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Steve Kyler: Boston Celtics Could Package Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green In Possible Trade Sooner Rather Than Later

Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green on the move?

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How Can Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr Get the Most out of Andrew Bogut?

Andrew Bogut is a key piece for the Golden State Warriors continued rise up the NBA ladder, but Coach Steve Kerr needs to make sure to maximize Bogut’s skill set by getting him more involved in the game plan on offense.

The Aussie big man has had a huge impact on the Dubs since being traded from the Milwaukee Bucks in 2012, but he has not escaped the injury bug that has burdened most of his career. 

The rib injury at the end of the season forced him to miss the seven-game series versus the Los Angeles Clippers, as he could have been the missing piece to put the Warriors into the second round.

Bogut has provided the necessary defense that former coach Mark Jackson craved, but his offense didn’t evolve.  Bogut didn’t get the opportunities to show off his skills.

So how will Coach Kerr get the most out of Bogut?  He will need to make sure that Bogut impacts both sides of the court.

If It’s Not Broke, Don’t Fix It

Bogut plays with a fire inside, and he likes to show those tendencies on the defensive side of the floor.  Whether it is making a key block, ripping down a contested rebound or jumping out of bounds to save a ball, he likes to get his teammates and the crowd pumped up.

Bogut led the Warriors in rebounds per game with 10.0 last season, and he also led the team in blocks.  Besides from the statistics, he has also been a command center in the key.

Here is Bogut making a block against Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz.

He calls out formations as he sees them develop and positions teammates to give the Warriors a better defensive foundation.  He is also a buffer and last line of defense, in case an opponent drives by less gifted defenders like David Lee or Stephen Curry.

His defensive input was well-received around the league, as Bogut finished in 10th place in the Defensive Player of the Year vote. 

Since the proposed Kerr-style offense involves a lot of open space and transition, Bogut will have to make sure that he is in good shape to be significantly involved in the offense but have enough speed to get back into his defensive position.

He has done it before, as shown in this play against the New York Knicks when he was a member of the Bucks.

 

Where Is the Offense?

On the offensive side of the ball, Bogut has been relatively M.I.A. since joining the Dubs.  Former Coach Jackson did not utilize the big man’s skill set, and as a result, Bogut finished with career low PPG during the last two seasons (5.8 & 7.3).

Based on that information, one would probably concur that Bogut is not overly skilled offensively.  However, he is a slick passer and knows how to handle the ball well for a center.

Here is an example of Bogut’s skill in dribbling and passing the ball, as he leads the break.

Before joining the Dubs, Bogut put up some slick offensive numbers by averaging in double figures in his last six seasons with Milwaukee.  His most productive season was in 2009-2010 when he put up 15.9 points

In his days with the Bucks, Bogut used to have his go-to moves.  He would dominate the post and primarily use his left-handed jump hook.

 

The Triangle

Coach Kerr will employ an offense with many elements from the triangle, an offense used for three (of his five total) NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls under Coach Phil Jackson.  It is a game plan that is highly reliant on the offensive end.

Bogut will have to use all of his tools to acclimate himself to the new philosophy.  The key words associated with the new style are penetration, spacing, player movement, positioning and offensive rebounding.

The offense depends on the spacing of players usually between 15 to 20 feet apart, and it is more of a read and react style, instead of using defined plays.  The triangle should utilize Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to put them in the best positions to score. 

Bogut will have to be able to use his passing ability to hit open targets in the two guards, but he will also need to find David Lee and Andre Iguodala in the lanes. 

However, he will need to penetrate in order to score and focus his attention on offensive boards.

He should make his point total rise with clean-up jobs like what he did with Curry this last season.

 

Work Still Needed

Besides getting in better physical condition and completing the rehabilitation of his previous injuries, Bogut still has one major flaw, free-throw shooting.

He has seen his percentages dip during the past four seasons, and as a result, teams have at times employed the hack-a-Bogut strategy.  Last season, Bogut only sunk 34.4 percent of his attempts at the charity stripe and was routinely pulled to avoid the futility.

He is a career 56.2 percent free-throw shooter, but he will need to take extra attempts in practice to fix the problem.  He also needs to find a new coach to improve his stroke.

Since the philosophy is so offensive-oriented, Bogut will get more chances at the line.  He should return to at least three attempts per game, which he achieved with the Bucks.

 

Bogut Projections

Bogut will become a more integral player in the Kerr’s new offense, but don’t expect him to post anywhere near the numbers of Curry or Thompson.  However, double figures in scoring is an obvious obtainable goal.

Coach Kerr will presumably use Bogut in the same manner that Phil Jackson used Luc Longley in Chicago, where Longley’s assist and points totals were at career highs during the Bulls second three-peat of the ’90s.

Bogut should increase his average to over 10 points per game, and his assist totals to over three per game (up from 1.7 last season), as the new offense should provide more opportunities for the big man to get the ball to Lee, Iguodala and the Splash Brothers.

The only major impediment to his success is the constant injury concern.  With the spacing of the new offense and a potentially less-congested key, Bogut could finish with 70-plus games played.

With the way his contract is structured, the new Kerr style could pay big dividends.   

He should also have a chance to show the same dominance in the playoffs that he did in the 2012-13 season.  An NBA title is still the number one goal, and Bogut is a necessity to get there.

 

 

 

 

 

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Steve Ballmer becomes owner of LA Clippers (Yahoo Sports)

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 30: Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO (L), sits with former Los Angeles Kings great Luc Robitaille (R) in the first period in Game Six of the Western Conference Final during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Ballmer has agreed to pay $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Clippers moved on from months of ugliness Tuesday, with Steve Ballmer officially becoming the team’s new owner in a record $2 billion sale that ousted Donald Sterling as the NBA’s longest-tenured owner. The team said the sale closed after a Los Angeles court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling, on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust, to sell the franchise to the former Microsoft CEO. The NBA Board of Governors had previously approved the sale. ”Really excited – in a pretty hardcore way – to continue the path to making the Clippers a better and better basketball team, and a better and better citizen of the Los Angeles community,” Ballmer told The Associated Press in a phone interview.


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