Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says his dream for a long time was to buy a basketball team.
In fact, his successful $2 billion bid to buy the L.A. Clippers from Donald and Shelly Sterling was actually his third attempt at purchasing an NBA team.
“I love basketball,” he said during a visit to CBS This Morning on Tuesday. “There’s just no sport as great as basketball. There’s poetry, the speed, the decision-making. I just love it. I love it. And for me to be involved is a heck of a lot of fun. That’s number one. Numer two, if you told me, ‘Where would you have a team if I could have one?’ I would say my home in Seattle or Los Angeles, and somehow one of the L.A. teams came up for sale — we all know that story — but I grabbed at that opportunity.”
Ballmer admitted that he “had no clue” how to make a big play for an NBA team but denies he was willing to pay any amount for the team. Still, he declined to state what his top limit was.
“I just tried to say, ‘Hey, I really want to own this team,’ ” he recalled of his conversations with Shelly Sterling. ” ‘I have no intent to move it to Seattle. Despite the fact that Seattle is our home, we’ll commute down. And I love basketball. And whatever’s gotten us here, we’re going to take the Clippers to the next level.’ “
He added that another positive about the Clippers is that they already have a home — Staples Center — even though they share it with another NBA team, the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as the NHL’s L.A. Kings.
“We do share an arena, but that kind of was part of the game for me,” Ballmer said. “For me that was a feature, at least for now, to not have to think about building an arena when buying a team, because Seattle, Milwaukee, some of the other situations I looked at — building an arena is a big project. I was glad to buy a team and we can worry about arenas later.”