Ballmer brings cheer, competitiveness to Clippers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — For decades, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was the technology giant’s biggest cheerleader. His booming voice and energetic highfives are famous around Seattle. Now that he’s agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, Ballmer is expected to bring that boosterism to the hardwood down south.
Ballmer’s days of sports fandom go back to childhood. An avid pick-up basketball player who lacked the athleticism to excel at it, he channeled his passion into being team manager at the Country Day high school in his hometown of Detroit.
There, he supported players and was a perfectionist with stats. He made sure towels and balls were in order, and that water bottles were ready when the players stepped off the court. “And, of course, he cheered,” then coach John Hansen told author Fredric Alan Maxwell for his 2002 book “Bad Boy Ballmer.”
He didn’t have a hoop in his backyard, but neighborhood kids knew from his bellows when he wanted a game.
“He’d be so loud, calling out to see if anyone wanted to play,” childhood friend Rob Mason told the author. In the game, he was no less determined. “You could see how Steve ended up where he did. He just kept driving toward the basket. He was hugely competitive.”
That kind of background makes Ballmer, 58, the “perfect owner” for the Clippers, says author Maxwell.
Ballmer is a huge basketball fan, but is organized and analytical enough to manage a large organization.
“He knows how to hire talent. He won’t get in the way of that,” said Maxwell.
FILE - In this July 23, 2011 file photo, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer cheers during a charity basketball game in Seattle. For decades, Steve Ballmer has been Microsoft’s biggest cheerleader with his big, booming voice and energetic high-fives, which are famous around Seattle. Now that he’s agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, the former CEO of the technology giant is expected to bring that boosterism to the hardwood down south.