Former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer has signed an agreement to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers from Shelly Sterling for $2 billion, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen sounds delighted by the development.
Allen posted the following statement of support for Ballmer on his website on Saturday.
"Steve Ballmer would make an excellent owner for the Los Angeles Clippers. I encouraged him to consider acquiring an NBA team because of his strong passion for the game. Once the deal is finalized, I look forward to welcoming him to the league."
The agreement, which came together after disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape making a series of racist remarks, is subject to a three-quarters vote of the NBA's Board of Governors.
Allen, 61, co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975 and officially resigned from the company's Board of Directors in 2000. He had left the company much earlier, though, after a difference of opinion with Gates and Ballmer. Allen described the tipping point in his recent autobiography "Idea Man."
One evening in late December 1982, I heard Bill and Steve speaking heatedly in Bill's office and paused outside to listen in. It was easy to get the gist of the conversation. They were bemoaning my recent lack of production and discussing how they might dilute my Microsoft equity by issuing options to themselves and other shareholders. It was clear that they'd been thinking about this for some time.
Unable to stand it any longer, I burst in on them and shouted, "This is unbelievable! It shows your true character, once and for all." I was speaking to both of them, but staring straight at Bill. Caught red-handed, they were struck dumb. Before they could respond, I turned on my heel and left.
Ballmer, 58, began working for Microsoft in 1980 and became CEO in 2000. He retired earlier this year.
Prior to his deal to purchase the Clippers, Ballmer was part of an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Sacramento Kings and relocate the franchise to Seattle, where they would have re-branded as the SuperSonics.
Last year, Allen endorsed Ballmer as a possible owner as the Kings/SuperSonics saga was unfolding.
Steve Ballmer is a very good friend of mine and I think he would be a great owner.
Ballmer's net worth is estimated by Forbes at $21 billion, which would make him the richest owner in American professional sports, topping Allen.
Ballmer, who does not plan to attempt to relocate the Clippers to Seattle, offered this statement about the deal on Friday.
"I will be honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win - and win big - in Los Angeles. LA is one of the world's great cities - a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness. I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community. I thank Shelly Sterling for her willingness to entrust the Clippers franchise to me, and I am grateful to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues for working collaboratively with me throughout this process."
Life is good for Allen the owner, as his Seattle Seahawks are the reigning Super Bowl champions, while the Blazers just advanced in the postseason for the first time in 14 years.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter