Last week, Forbes estimated former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s net worth at a staggering $21 Billion.
However, only a few days later, NBA fans were surprised to learn that the super-flush Ballmer would brazenly plunk down a whopping $2 Billion to buy the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Los Angeles Lakers maybe, but certainly not their cross town rival Clippers.
Yet, incredulously, that’s exactly what the former corporate titan did.
It’s amazing what a couple billion bucks will do to immediately spruce up a once moribund and oft maligned franchise.
With their new valuation, the Clippers have suddenly found themselves in elite company. Literally overnight, the team’s reputation has been transformed from that of a penurious franchise to now one with deep pockets and panache, poised to compete with the slumping Lakers for fans in the purple and gold’s own backyard.
The second fiddle Los Angeles based basketball franchise without a home arena to call its own is not just the talk of the league. But, the Clips dominate story lines on ESPN Sports Center, in sports tabloids and during sports talk shows.
Ballmer’s purchase appears outrageously excessive when comparing his new team’s appraised worth against other more famous, glamorous and successful sports franchises.
For a franchise that has never played in a championship series during its 40 year history, the once woeful and oft mocked Clips have become the NBA’s most prized organization in terms of worth.
The LA franchise’s new value trumps that of the more storied Lakers, Celtics and Knicks in the NBA, the Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs in MLB and every NFL franchise except the Dallas Cowboys.
Ballmer spent the big bucks to acquire the Clips simply because he could. It’s his new ridiculously expensive sand box that should bring fun and celebrity into his life following a more conservative career during Microsoft corporate days.
NBA fans should expect him to be as brash, calculated and ROI focused as he was in captaining one of the world’s biggest and most respected corporations.
Count on Ballmer being proactive in keeping Doc Rivers as coach, winning over Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as committed stars and investing in free agency and avante-guard marketing to establish the Clippers brand among the best in sports.
Expect Ballmer to reap the rewards of a pending cable television contract for his team as well as share in the anticipated sweetened NBA TV deal in 2017.
In addition, watch this brilliant businessman involve other Los Angeles area partners to not only wisely mitigate his financial exposure, but also appeal to a broader, more diverse ownership group that best reflects the demographic make-up of Southern California.
With Ballmer behind the helm of the Clippers vessel, trust that the former Microsoft CEO wil captain his franchise to an NBA Finals a lot sooner than fans can ever envision.
And, with Donald Sterling now formally removed from ownership reins, watch closely as once faithful Lakers fans slowly abandon their purple and gold in exchange for the red, white and blue of the NBA’s most valuable franchise.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!