Brier Dudley of the Seattle Times reacts to the news that Steve Ballmer has announced his plans to retire, wondering whether the longtime Microsoft CEO will turn his attention to NBA ownership.
Steve Ballmer's going to need to do something in his retirement besides mow the lawn at his Hunts Point mansion. He's also clearly been bitten by the pro sports bug, after nearly winning an NBA franchise for Seattle over the last year.
Ballmer would be a force in the league. Not just because he'd be the wealthiest owner, but because of the rare combination of personal skills and analytical capabilities that have enabled him to steadily grow Microsoft sales and profits, if not its stock price and stature in consumer computing.
Who knows - maybe Ballmer could even take over Paul Allen's sports franchises in Seattle and Portland if Allen decides to move on. Ballmer's been spotted visiting Seahawks offices.
Allen had this to say about Ballmer's bid to purchase the Sacramento Kings back in April.
I think the league announced that there wasn't going to be a decision at this owners meeting. If there was, I'd be back in New York talking to people, forming my opinion. I think it's a tough call. While I supported the Sonics staying in Seattle when they ended up leaving, I think in general there's some feeling that if there's good fan support and there's good political support sufficient to have a state of the art facility, that's more than enough reason to keep a franchise in the same place.
Then you can get into all the parameters of who has made the best offer, who hasn't made the best offer. It's a very difficult thing. Steve Ballmer is a very good friend of mine and I think he would be a great owner. I reserve my final decision.
In May, Allen was one of eight owners to vote in favor of relocating the Kings to Seattle. The other 22 voted to reject the relocation bid.
That is correct in spite of strange reports from unknown places. I read some of [the story about exploration of a possible sale] then I got disappointed again. Secret meetings that never happened, I read enough to say, 'Not accurate. Extremely inaccurate.' Some of these things if you feel strongly about them, call my office, we can talk about them and get back to you. You can, you can, you can.
Allen, 60, has battled health problems over the years but wrote clearly in an open letter to Blazers fans in May 2012 that his franchise was not on the block, despite rumors and rumblings.
"The team is not for sale. I'm working hard to get this team back on track. No offers have been made to buy the team and none have been solicited."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter