With Donald Sterling saga over, Steve Ballmer gets ovation from Clipper Nation
Los Angeles: With his trademark top-of-the-lungs, high-fiving, rambunctious enthusiasm, former Microsoft Corp chief executive Steve Ballmer introduced himself to Los Angeles Clippers fans on Monday, promising a new era for the NBA team after former owner Donald Sterling was banned for life over racist remarks.
Ballmer, 58, who paid an NBA-record $2 billion for the Clippers, greeted the several thousand gathered at the team`s Staples Center home with the primal screams that punctuated meetings at the Seattle technology company.
"I couldn`t be more honored or excited or fired up to be here," Ballmer exclaimed as he was welcomed with a standing ovation.
Ballmer, who said he will be a courtside fixture at games, took over the Clippers last week, ending Sterling`s 33 years of ownership that were marked by decades of losing and second-tier status to local rival, the Lakers.
The NBA banned Sterling for life in April, days after his privately taped remarks imploring a girlfriend not to publicly associate with black people were published.
The remarks, which were publicized during the Clippers` playoff run, sparked public outrage, prompted sponsors to cut ties with the team and caused Clippers players, who are mostly black, to consider a boycott.
The 80-year-old real estate billionaire also unsuccessfully fought in court to keep the team after his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, struck the deal with Ballmer.
"Everything is about looking forward," Ballmer told the crowd, striking a tone about new beginnings for a team that finds itself for the first time as a playoff contender behind superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
`A GREAT CHANGE`
The playoffs came after the Clippers acquired top players in recent years. Now they are also in a new position of commanding the off-season spotlight.
"We made lemonade out of lemons," Ballmer said alongside eight of the team`s players who were in attendance, praising their performance last year during the Sterling saga.
Sterling`s comments embarrassed the NBA and Clippers supporters.
"I think it`s going to be a great change, a positive change," said Clippers fan Teri Renty. "It`s something we desperately needed, and it will really be great for the team in giving them the energy and the momentum to look forward to good things."
The rally served as a restart for fans who were given t-shirts in Clippers red, white and blue that read "We are Clipper Nation" along with "It`s a New Day" on the back.
Head coach Doc Rivers, who considered quitting if Sterling remained as owner, characterized the Ballmer era as one of relief for fans, who had for years been publicly reserved in their support for the longtime Western Conference doormats.
"Now they can actually say it and be proud of it, and I`m very happy for them," Rivers told reporters after the rally.
"If we do it right, the name can stand for something."
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- PM Modi speaks at Golden Jubilee celebrations of poet Dinkar’s works
- Vadodara: Policemen seen dancing with bar girls
- Coal scam: Naveen Jindal, Madhu Koda and others get bail
- DNA: IAF Mirage 2000 fighter plane lands successfully on Yamuna expressway
- One year of Modi govt: Arun Jaitley addresses press conference
- Zee Media Exclusive: Kangana, Madhavan talk about their film 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'
- DNA: Osama documents show 'Indian brother in Madinah' financed al Qaeda
- ISIS executes Syrian fighter using anti-tank rocket launcher
- DNA: Harmful chemicals found in Maggi, Nestle India still in denial mode
- Zee Media Exclusive interview with Congress leader Kamal Nath
- CM Kejriwal shortlists 39 'unwanted' IAS officers in Delhi
- Columbia student takes rape-protest mattress to graduation
- Mumbai: One injured in shootout at Film City
- DNA: Modi-led NDA govt's hits and misses in one year
- Delhi: Car catches fire after crash, one dead
- Jayalalithaa makes public appearance, meets Governor: As it happened
- IPL 2015, Qualifier 2: CSK vs RCB - As it happened...
- Geelani's passport application incomplete, cannot be processed: MEA
- India to soon have its own space shuttle!
- Kejriwal slams notification on LG's powers, says Modi running Delhi govt through back door
- Tanu Weds Manu Returns movie review: Brilliant execution, superb performance!
- WBBSE 10th Madhyamik Results 2015: West Bengal Board (wbbse.org & wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th Madhyamik Pariksha Results 2015 to be announced on May 22
- Don't know what will happen to my career, says Ranbir Kapoor
- Manohar Parrikar meets troops at Siachen base camp
- Wbbse.org 10th Madhyamik Pariksha Results 2015: West Bengal Board (wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th, WB MP Results 2015 to be announced today shortly
- Businessman shot next to Amitabh Bachchan's shooting location in Mumbai Film City
- West Bengal Board (wbbse.org & wbresults.nic.in) Class 10th Madhyamik Pariksha (MP) Results 2015 to be announced today at 10 AM
- After land bill, net neutrality, Rahul Gandhi to fight for ex-servicemen now
- RBSE 12th Results 2015 (rajeduboard.nic.in & rajresults.nic.in): Rajasthan Board BSER Ajmer Senior Secondary Class 12th XII Intermediate Science & Commerce Exam Results 2015 to be declared today on May 22
- Rajasthan Board RBSE 12th Inter Results 2015: BSER Ajmer (rajeduboard.nic.in & rajresults.nic.in) Senior Secondary Class 12th Science & Commerce Exam Results 2015 to be declared today at 2 PM