Steve Ballmer interested in buying NBA's Clippers?

The former Microsoft CEO reportedly met with Shelly Sterling, wife of the infamous Donald, with a view to buying the team.


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Steve Ballmer, giving a commencement speech last week at USC. USC/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Who can't imagine him leaping up and down courtside and screaming: "Dunks! Dunks! Dunks!"?

It's not so far removed from the way Steve Ballmer used to exhort developers when he was Microsoft's CEO.

Now, TMZ is reporting and ESPN is confirming that, on Sunday he met with Shelly Sterling -- wife of Donald Sterling, NBA pariah -- with a view to buying the Los Angeles Clippers.

Should you have been locked away in a strange vacuum where only hockey and Kimye exist, Sterling was recently banned for life by the NBA.

His offense was to utter racist remarks in a private conversation with his soi-disant girlfriend, remarks that were recorded and then magically released.

This isn't the first time Ballmer has been associated with an NBA purchase. Ever since the Seattle Supersonics were spirited away from the city by slightly stinky means, he's been linked with groups trying to bring the NBA back.

Indeed, last year, he was said to be involved in an attempt to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. In the end, that team stayed, with the promise of a new arena.

In the case of the Clippers, there is no current suggestion that Ballmer would try to move them to Microsoft's home.

Despite the Clippers' ownership -- which has been controversial for years -- the team has enjoyed a resurgence with the arrival of both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

In LA, it is currently the more glamorous team, with the Lakers being an abject collection of the injured, the disgruntled, and the barely competent.

Even longtime Lakers courtside stalwart Jack Nicholson was recently seen at a Clippers game. This is almost as stunning as Spike Lee becoming a Nets fan.

Though the NBA says it is trying to force a sale of the Clippers, there's no guarantee this can happen quickly. Donald Sterling has thus far refused to pay the $2.5 million fine imposed on him and says he will take legal action.

If Ballmer succeeds, however, it will be another step in tech's takeover of basketball.

Mark Cuban has endeared himself to many (but not all) with his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's Portland Trail Blazers have been one of this year's surprise successes.

Former Apple engineer, Robert Pera, bought the Memphis Grizzlies, another fine team. And Kleiner Perkins VC Joe Lacob has become the famous -- and at times entertainingly infamous -- owner of my beloved Golden State Warriors.

The Sterling ownership -- with its reported cheapskating and slumlording -- hasn't been a positive experience.

I just hope that Ballmer doesn't attempt to rename the team the Los Angeles Windows.

 

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