Steve Ballmer Reportedly Agrees to buy the Clippers

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has reportedly agreed to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers for the cool sum of 2 BILLION dollars, according to the LA Times. The sale is pending approval of Donald Sterling and the NBA’s owners.

Ballmer attempted to purchase the Sacramento Kings last year to bring them to Seattle, where Microsoft is headquartered. Now retired, Ballmer has claimed to have no intention of relocating the Clippers should he obtain ownership of the team.

I think this is a good purchase for both the league and the Clippers, should it go through. Ballmer is a wealthy, wealthy man (approx $20 billion) with a large personality, and clearly a strong desire to own a franchise. In reality anyone would be an upgrade over Sterling, who has proven inept over the past few decades, so good for the Clippers contingent of Los Angeles to get this breath of fresh air.

20140529-200802.jpg

Advertisements

What the hell happened yesterday?

Yesterday’s Mother’s Day NBA schedule featured two games that were each wild in their own way, and kind of left me scratching my head as to how the hell they ended how they ended.

The first game happened out west at the Staples Center, with the Clippers pulling off a stunning upset over the Thunder, winning 101-99. That was the kind of game that can turn a series around. There is a world of difference between being down 3-1 and being tied at 2-2, and the Clippers are now right back in it. This despite all the noise coming from their lunatic soon-to-be former owner. The Clippers trailed by as much as 16 with 9 minutes to go, and trailed by 12 with under 8 to go before the Clippers began their run. It started with Chris Paul’s personal 6-0 run, as he continued to show anyone crazy enough to doubt him that he is still the league’s best point guard. From there the Thunder struggled to score for the most part, with Chris Paul amazingly guarding Kevin Durant, forcing him into tough isolation possessions. Blake Griffin’s three point play with 1:50 remaining was one of the two biggest plays of the game for me, as it tied the game, along with Jamal Crawford’s clutch 3 (what else is new) with 1:23 to go. Darren Collison was also terrific in the fourth, scoring 12 points and using his speed in the open court. The Thunder don’t seem to have much of a plan in terms of late game execution on offense, so the crunch time edge will continue to go to the Clippers with Chris Paul’s ability to create off the dribble. Check out this gif of CP3 and DeAndre Jordan connecting on a nice alley oop:

The second game of the day was even weirder to me. The Wizards dropped a crucial game 4 to Indiana 95-92, now heading back to Indy down 3-1. This was a golden opportunity for the Wizards to get right back into this series, but they let it slip away. The opening quarter ended with the Pacers up 27-26, with the game staying mostly in the half court, which favors the Pacers dramatically. It wasn’t until the Wizards’ old guys checked in that Washington went on their run. The AARP club of Andre Miller, Drew Gooden, and Al Harrington played terrific all night, and looked like they could run away with it after outscoring Indiana 29-11 in the second quarter. But Paul George was the difference as he played his best game so far this postseason, with 39 points and 12 rebounds on 7-10 shooting from the 3 point line. Something is just plain wrong with Roy Hibbert, as he has trouble putting up consecutive quality quarters and repeatedly got blocked in the pain by smaller defenders. Also Lance Stephenson is one of the most erratic players I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t want him within a mile of my team, especially after he nearly blew the game with a late, bone headed turnover. Watching this game, you could see Indiana hanging around but all of a sudden they had a lead and you weren’t quite sure how they got there. I’m still far from convinced by this Pacers team, but once again they got it together just enough to survive and move closer to the Easter Conference Finals. John Wall’s awesome, buzzer beating layup to end the first half here for your viewing pleasure:

Both games yesterday were entertaining and sort of befuddling. The Thunder seemed to lose any semblance of a plan in the fourth quarter, and the Wizards managed to squander a vital game on their home court. Both series seem to be heading in different directions, with the Pacers likely to close things out in 5 (though I wouldn’t bet anything on it), and the series out west seems destined to be a 7 game classic. What do you think?

Featured Image Photo Credit: http://galleries.nba.com/gallery/Gamer_Action%3A_May_11

What to do with Donald Sterling

As you may have heard by now, Clippers owner Donald Sterling was recorded making racist and all around stupid comments to his girlfriend, which she released to TMZ. In the recording, Donald discusses a picture she posted to her Instagram account with NBA legend Magic Johnson, asking her not to “broadcast her association with black people” or bring them to Clipper games. Sterling tells her she can do whatever she wants with minorities, even sleep with them, as long as it’s all private. Yes, this is an actual owner of a professional sports franchise in 2014.

Not surprisingly, this story has lead to a public outcry against Sterling. I’m not sure why Sterling’s racism has all of a sudden become a problem, when the public has known what an abhorrent person he has been for years. Sterling settled out of court in 2005 as part of a housing discrimination lawsuit, in which he was found to have evicted Blacks and Hispanics from the housing complexes he owns. Sterling was also sued by former employee Elgin Baylor, also an NBA legend, for discrimination in 2009. Racism isn’t Donald’s only issue, as he’s simply just a bad person. In 2004, Clippers assistant coach Kim Hughes needed surgery for Cancer, which Sterling wouldn’t pay for, despite being a billionaire, because it would set a poor precedent for providing for employees who weren’t covered by their health care. Seriously. Luckily Clippers players Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, and Marko Jaric footed the bill for their coach in a truly touching gesture.

It’s not even like Sterling has been a good NBA owner. The Clippers have notoriously been doormats of the NBA for decades, save for the last couple of years, routinely used as punchlines in talk show fodder. Not that it would matter if he was a good owner, racism is racism and it shouldn’t be tolerated, but seriously what is this guy still doing hanging around? Allowing Sterling to own a team in a league that prides itself on being progressive and accepting is both hypocritical and offensive to anyone with a brain. This is the same league who employees Jason Collins, who courageously announced his sexuality to the world and went right back to playing the game he loves. The responsibility to punish Sterling doesn’t fall on the Clippers players, it falls on the NBA.

All eyes will be on new commissioner Adam Silver, who will reportedly hold a press conference tonight. I understand Silver probably can’t and won’t remove Sterling as a team owner, but that doesn’t mean he can’t hammer him until he bleeds. Take him for as much money as allowed in fines, suspend him, condemn him, and make an example of him. There is no place for a miserable, ignorant old man like Sterling in the NBA, and the league will be a better place when he’s gone. After decades of laughable, inept control of the Clippers and routine mistreatment of subordinates, let’s be done with this pig once and for all.

20140426-162538.jpg

Who Will Survive the West? LAC vs. GSW

This series is a little tougher to project. So much star power in this interstate match up, with both franchises distancing themselves from their losing ways of the past.

Is this finally the year the Clippers break through and win the West? I’m not sure about that, but they do have a pretty good chance of winning this first round series. This has been the year that former first pick Blake Griffin finally took major strides towards becoming the player most think he can be. He asserted himself as a leader and go-to playmaker when Chris Paul was sidelined with injury.

The thing to like about this team is depth. Mid-season pickups Danny Granger and Glen Davis bolster an already talented squad. Having two legitimate MVP-caliber players is one thing, but surrounding them with knockdown shooters like Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick, good role players like Darren Collison and Matt Barnes, makes you a dangerous team. That’s not to mention DeAndre Jordan, who has continued to improve into a fully capable starting Center in this league. Interestingly the Clips’ most used 5 man unit is Paul-Collison-Barnes-Griffin-Jordan according to 82games.com. That lineup is incredibly fast and athletic, though the outside shooting leaves much to be desired. I’m definitely curious to see what unit Doc Rivers rolls with late in a close game.

The Warriors are tough to project, because while I don’t think they can match the depth of the Clippers, they can shoot the lights out. Few backcourts in league history can match the shooting that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson provide, and when hot their shots barely touch net. Their shooting combined with the superb defense and all-around play of Andre Iguodala (one of my favorites) gives the Warriors the scary trio they imagined. The big key for the Warriors is who is not playing. Andrew Bogut is a strong defensive Center who just can’t stay healthy. David Lee is a terrific player but the Clippers big men can prove to be too much without Bogut down low. Marreese Speights has the big body but is a very inconsistent player, and Jermaine O’Neal can only provide limited minutes at this stage of his career. I think Harrison Barnes can be a big X-factor for this Warriors team, but the Clippers can come at you from so many angles and I think they are good enough to advance at least one round.