Steve Ballmer brings cheer, competitiveness to Los Angeles Clippers

By Ryan Nakashima

Associated Press

Published: Monday, June 2 2014 1:55 p.m. MDT

"I encouraged him to consider acquiring an NBA team because of his strong passion for the game," Allen said in a statement released over the weekend, along with a photo of the two men chatting about sports at this year's Super Bowl. "Once the deal is finalized, I look forward to welcoming him to the league."

George Maloof Jr., who backed Ballmer's offer for the Kings, described Ballmer as a "true gentleman" throughout the six-month sale process. The team was ultimately sold to a group led by TIBCO Software chairman Vivek Ranadive.

Maloof said he's not surprised Ballmer kept trying.

"He's a competitive guy and a good guy," Maloof said in an interview. "You couldn't pick a better guy to own the team."

Ballmer's winning bid for the Clippers — which still needs to be approved by the NBA — comes after team owner Donald Sterling made racist statements that were made public.

Black athletes — including Magic Johnson, the subject of some of Sterling's remarks — have come out in support of Ballmer's ownership.

Johnson played for Michigan State —and Ballmer followed his career closely growing up. The NBA Hall of Famer tweeted congratulations to "my friend," telling fans "you'll love Steve Ballmer as your owner!"

Former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who as Sacramento mayor helped thwart Ballmer's bid for the Kings, said in a statement that news of the retired CEO's successful bid was "great news of the city of Los Angeles and the entire NBA."

Dan Jiggetts, a former lineman for the Chicago Bears, remembers Ballmer from when he managed Harvard's football team in 1975, Jiggetts' senior year as captain. That year, Harvard won its first Ivy League championship.

Ballmer "was as excited as anybody was," Jiggetts said.

He said it's interesting that Ballmer is buying the Clippers. Not only was the team eliminated this year by the Thunder — the team that left Seattle — but they are "two or three decisions away from being a championship ball club."

"That would be wonderful to see that in Los Angeles," Jiggetts said. "I'll be rooting for him, that's for sure."

AP Researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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