Seattle Clippers? What Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban could mean for ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer stepped down from Microsoft in February after 14 years as CEO.

Steve Ballmer stepped down from Microsoft in February after 14 years as CEO.

In light of racist comments Donald Sterling made during a recorded conversation, today the NBA placed a lifetime ban on the Los Angeles Clippers owner and said it will act quickly to force the 80-year-old to sell the team.

That’s made at least a few people in Seattle wonder: Will former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and hedge fund manager Chris Hansen now make an attempt to purchase the Clippers and move them up to the Emerald City?

Ballmer and Hansen came close to buying the Sacramento Kings franchise one year ago with plans to build a brand new sports arena, but they ultimately lost out after an NBA committee blocked the $625 million deal. Still, both men have expressed continued interest in bringing the NBA back to Seattle and undoubtedly have the money to do so.

However, it’s unclear how exactly Sterling will be removed from his owner’s seat and how the process of bringing on a new ownership team will take place. First, the NBA needs 75 percent of its owners to request that Sterling no longer own the Clippers.

“I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him,” new NBA commissioner Adam Silver said today.

200px-Seattle_SuperSonics_logo (1)ESPN radio host and Northwest native Colin Cowherd spoke with 710 ESPN Seattle earlier this week and said it’s a realistic possibility for Ballmer and Hansen to make a bid for the Clippers.

“Ballmer is a man of incredible wealth, he’s respected and he would be all in,” Cowherd said. “He’s absolutely as viable as any other candidate.”

Basketball is something the former Microsoft CEO deeply cares about and it’s not surprising that he’s still part of this investment team. Ballmer was a regular at Sonics games before the team departed for Oklahoma City in 2008 and also was part of another investment group that tried to keep the team here.

Some reports have noted that NBA legend and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Magic Johnson is also interested in purchasing the Clippers. There are likely numerous other high net worth individuals who would want to own the team. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the bidding war will exceed $1 billion:

And there’s this from ESPN reporter Zach Lowe, who notes that the NBA would be responsible for acquiring a new owner:

Yet it’s tough to see the NBA wanting to move the Clippers out of Los Angeles, despite the fact that there are two NBA franchises in the city. The Clippers have an adequate arena and ranked seventh in league attendance this season.

Again, how exactly this process will take place and how Sterling will be involved — or if he’ll take legal action — is unclear. Regardless of what happens, this entire situation is bringing the “NBA to Seattle” talks back to life again.

“Seattle is affluent, smart, civil — really a perfect place for the NBA,” Cowherd said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle inherits or purchases an NBA team in the next decade.”

Update, 9:05 p.m.:

Look who showed up to the Warriors vs. Clippers playoff game tonight in Los Angeles…

  • Easyrhino1

    But before Ballmer and Hansen may proceed they must first go through a complete background check to verify (from age 5 on) that they never spoke any words that may have hurt someone’s feelings.

    The NSA is scoping all emails and phone transcripts looking for key words.

    Details by end of week!

    • Run

      STFU

      • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

        Screenshot :)

    • Nick Anderson

      You’re a talker, listening to talkers makes me thirsty.

      • Truth

        Thirst is bad. I prefer moist

  • John Wantz

    SeattleClippers.com #Comr.se

  • Guest

    Nice! I don’t like the name “Seattle Clippers,” though. Change it to “Seattle SuperSonics” and I’ll approve the sale.

    • Run

      That team won’t be coming to Seattle. David Geffem, Magic Johnson, and movie stars and execs, not to mention investors who lost out on the Sacramento Kings, are all interested. Plus the team has a good lease in a great facility and remains in solid financial shape, despite inept ownership.

    • nominalize

      They’ll probably compromise with the SuperClippers or some nonsense.

  • raindarkride .

    I think the best move to move the Clippers to Seattle and rename the team to the Sonics, because it be the best move for the NBA, since the sigma of Clippers name has been tarnished. For the reputation of the league and sake of the franchise, it be the easiest fresh start for the league and franchise as a whole.

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  • Jeff

    The Clippers just re-upped their lease for a decade in January 2012. I think it runs through 2024. LA has a media market even with 2 teams where the Clippers are more valuable staying put, which is why you’re hearing more than $1 billion will be the price to buy the team. But Ballmer still a leading candidate to buy the team, if only to get a seat at the table to expedite a potential expansion franchise concession by the other owners. And Ballmer, and/or Hansen, may be okay with just owning a team in LA, I think Seattle basketball fans would have to live with that potential outcome. All of these 7 and 8 seed teams pushing the top teams helps the expansion argument, so go Memphis, go Atlanta, go Mavs… Hornets, better luck next time…

  • Salty_Swede

    That franchise is cursed. Stay away, stay very far away…

  • lolona

    Am I supposed to be looking at the gentleman with the giant red arrow pointed at him, or the girl in the top right corner of the photo?

  • Ian Orcutt

    I’m not really sure whether I even want the Clippers to come to Seattle. I’d rather have a franchise that I want to root for.

    • Run

      You couldn’t root for a franchise that left a market that didn’t really need it? You couldn’t root for a franchise that had CP3, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford – a Rainier Beach alum and hometown hero, a two-time Sixth Man of the Year, and a former NBA Citizen of the Year? Wow! Well, they won’t be coming here anyways.

      • Ian Orcutt

        I don’t like Blake Griffin very much, and I am not a fan of California sports teams. If I had to choose between an NBA team and an NHL team, I’d go for hockey.

        So that’s why I personally am hesitant about any possibility of getting the Clippers.

        • Run

          Well-taken…and to each his own. I don’t understand the California sports teams thing, but I think Black Griffin is way overrated, and he’s no Shawn Kemp (the player with whom he is often compared). Still, he’s a very serviceable player, and he seems like a cool guy.

  • balls187

    Screw the NBA.

    Why should Seattle give any money them after what happened to OUR Sonics?

    The NBA is circling the drain, so let that ship sink.

    Jai alai is the sport of the future.

  • Run

    If Coward Schultz had known that the value of his Sonics could have doubled within 5-7 years, and that during the next decade large market NBA teams (which would have included the Sonics) could sell for upwards of $1B, I think he would have offered to meet the public at least halfway on an arena (one worth about $450M+) and held on to the team. Seattle fans need to take comfort in the fact that the coward knows he messed that up badly, and that he has to live with it for the rest of his life. The money he got from selling out…er…selling…THE TEAM wasn’t worth the anguish, the public scorn or having to live with a huge public failure that makes him look like nothing more than a one-time lucky coffee baron…a one-trick pony who probably takes a lot of credit for things he doesn’t even do.

  • Paul Riden

    The Clippers moving to Seattle ? Why, that makes about as much sense as moving a team from Seattle to…let’s say…OKC !

  • Omariafrinet

    WHAT IS THE SOCIAL, POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, CULTURAL DIFFERENCE ETC
    BETWEEN DONALD STERLING OR A STEVE BALLMER WORKING, “BLACK PLANTATION
    LABOR”???????………… Omari Tahir, founder, AFRICAN AMERICAN
    HERITAGE MUSEUM AND CULTURE CENTER AND AFRICATOWN SEATTLE (NOT SO SUPER
    SONICS)

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    Omariafrinet

    15 hours ago

    FYI MR..PRESIDENT MR STERLING IS NOT “IGNORANT”. HE IS TRUTHFUL AND
    HONEST ABOUT THE PAST AND PRESENT US POLITICAL ECONOMIC SOCIAL SYSTEM
    AND MOST IMPORTANT PAST AND PRESENT “US WHITE SUPREMACY”/ BLACK LABOR
    CULTURE!! “THE KING HAS NO CLOTHES”
    Mr. Sterling is a typical
    “EUROPEAN SETTLER COLONIAL BUSINESS MAN” operating on the land PIRATED
    FROM THE NATIVE PEOPLE AND DEVELOPED BY AFRICAN:”SLAVE LABOR” THROUGH
    GENOCIDAL TERRORISM !!!! LIKE HIS FELLOW EURO DESCENDANT BANKERS, MOVIE
    EXECUTIVES. INDUSTRIALISTS, POLITICIANS, CATHOLIC, PROTESTANT,
    EVANGELICAL AND OTHER “WHITE JESUS” RELIGIOUS LEADERS. The “WHITE
    SUPREMACY COURT” has ruled in the DRED SCOTT CASE THAT “A BLACK MAN HAS
    NO RIGHTS A WHITE MAN IS BOUND TO RESPECT”? What is new???? “THE MORE
    THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY REMAIN THE SAME”??? IT IS TIME THE AFRICAN
    AMERICAN BASKETBALL AND FOOTBALL PLAYERS FORM AND CONTROL THEY OWN
    MULTI- ETHNIC LEAGUES AND THEN MERGE WITH THE NBA AND NFL!!!!!
    PLANTATIONS SHOULD HAVE MORE THAN JUST “WHITE” OWNERS IN 2014 FORWARD OR
    THE BLACK HORSES DON’T RUN!!!!…………….. TALENT EQUALS
    CONTROL.??????? FOR THE SAKE OF JUSTICE YOU CAN THROW IN $$$TRILLIONS
    FOR “REPAIRATIONS” (REPARATIONS) 400 YEARS OF UNPAID BLACK “SLAVE LABOR”
    BEFORE THE NBA AND NFL!!!!!!!! YES, YES, YES JUSTICE AND AN END TO
    ECONOMIC APARTHEID!!!! Omari Tahir FOUNDER African American Heritage
    Museum and Culture Center and AFRICATOWN SEATTLE (SUPER SONICS).