The NBA fined the Toronto Raptors $25,000 because rapper Drake — the official “Global Brand Ambassador” of the Raptors even though he draws no salary from the team — said at a concert in Toronto that Kevin Durant attended that if KD came and played for the Raptors this is what it would sound like (and on cue the crowd went nuts).
By the letter of the law that’s tampering. By the spirit of the law far worse things happen as teams try to recruit players (the Wizards hire Durant’s old high school coach, for one example). However the NBA league office is filled with lawyers from the top seat on down and they are big on the letter of the law, so the Raptors got fined about the cost of on Drake gold chain.
However, the league gave the Raptors an out — drop Drake. That according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.
They also refused to address a key detail — that the NBA offered to drop the tampering fine if the team agreed to strip Drake of his title. The Raptors apparently refused.
Good for the Raptors, this was a slap on the wrist and anyone making more of it is overanalyzing the mole hill. Obviously part of why Drake is associated with the Raptors is to recruit players, just not so obviously. The league is a stickler on the tampering stuff to the point of being ridiculous, but everyone around the league knows it. Nobody takes the Drake fine seriously.
The tone of the rest of the article has a very cheesy #hotsportstake quality to it that comes off as “The NBA league office hates Drake, they keep picking on his poor Raptors, nobody wants us to succeed, woe is us, but we will stand up for what we believe.” Whatever. If that sells papers good for you, but the NBA had Jay-Z as an owner and loves Drake promoting the game. The league doesn’t hate you, heck you got an All-Star Game coming. If your GM gets fined for saying “f**** Brooklyn” at a playoff rally that’s not the league coming down on you, it’s because that was a poor decision by your GM. In fact this same writer would have flipped if Billy King said that about those poor, picked-on Raptors.
Move on Toronto. You have a genuinely good team that could well win about 50 games and finish top four again in the East. A team that could win a playoff round. A team with good young players that is entertaining to watch. Savor this, you’re in a good position. A lot of franchises would love to trade positions with you.
While Donald Sterling is making his last gasps at keeping ahold of the Los Angeles Clippers (moves that will fail), new owner Steve Ballmer is moving the franchise out of the shadows and into the sunshine.
Tuesday he started that process when he sent out this letter to the Clipper fan base via email.
To the Clippers Family –
You may now have heard that this morning I officially became the owner of your Los Angeles Clippers. So as my first official communication, let me say thank you for continuing to support the Clipper organization. We are now looking forward to an exciting new season and I can’t wait to experience the opening tip off with you.
Today marks the beginning of a new era in the life of our franchise. It also is the culmination of a dream that I have harbored for many years. To Coach Rivers, to our fantastic players, and most importantly to you, the dedicated fans that make this all possible, I pledge this: I will be hard core in my commitment to give the team the support it needs to be its best on and off the court. And I will do whatever is necessary to provide you, your family and friends with the best game-night experience in the NBA.
The Clippers franchise is a true public trust, and my goal is that the Clippers will play an ever-increasing role in the life of our community. We will achieve this goal the same way we will succeed on the court: By waking up every day and figuring out how we can be better – how we can do more – how we can ensure that the Clippers organization is not only winning on the court but also making a real difference in the community.
That is the challenge I set not only for myself but the entire Clippers organization.
Please join me for our Fan Festival, on Monday, August 18th at the STAPLES Center at 12:30 p.m. to celebrate what promises to be a bright future!
Steve A. Ballmer
At Microsoft, Ballmer was the guy who brought the energy. He has real star power and charisma. He is the kind of guy who can push and motivate the Clippers organization driving it forward, the opposite of the way Donald Sterling sucked energy from it. Ballmer may or may not turn out to be a great NBA owner, but I guarantee he will be an improvement over the last one.
In terms of the market, the Clippers are never going to be replace Lakers in Los Angeles, that brand is an indelible part of the city. But there is market share to be seized — with casual fans, with newcomers to the area, with fans who just want to be entertained and see elite basketball. The Clippers are contenders and will be the better team on the court going deeper in the playoffs for at least a few years. Ballmer doesn’t need to reach the hard-core Lakers fans — Los Angeles is a huge city. There is room to make inroads. Ballmer is just the guy who can lead that.
This is not going to work.
As soon as Judge Michael Levanas signed and filed his final order Tuesday morning clearing the way for the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers from the Sterling Family Trust to Steve Ballmer, the money was transferred and the sale executed. It’s done. The final horn has sounded. Game over.
But you didn’t think Sterling would just quit, did you? He’s a rich, angry, desperate man who will keep trying to bully the league through the courts because that’s who he is.
Sterling went to an appellate court Tuesday in the hours after the sale went through trying to get the sale blocked and overturned, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Hours after the announcement of the Clippers’ sale Tuesday, Donald Sterling petitioned an appeals court to overturn the move.
“An immediate stay from this court, and an order halting or unwinding the sale, is necessary,” the filing said, “to allow meaningful review of the novel and erroneous legal determinations made here, and to restore public faith in our justice system….”
Pierce O’Donnell, Shelly Sterling’s attorney, called the petition “patently frivolous.”
It’s not going to work, not according to the legal people I spoke to about this. No judge is going to go back reverse the sale or overturn the order (Sterling has already had that shot down once). You can’t unring the bell.
Make no mistake, Donald Sterling will not go quietly. He will stick around and be a thorn in the side of the NBA for a while. He has his attorneys on speed dial and the money to pay them to harass the NBA until he gets bored with it. Which is going to take a while, he’s a bitter man.
Sterling knows he is never going to own the Clippers again, never again attend of their games. He had a lot of his identity wrapped up in being the guy who owned the Clippers — he loved the doors it opened, the people who kissed his behind because they wanted to be close to the team. And if he can’t have that he’s going to lash out at those that do and those that he blames for taking it away from him. Like a petulant child.
When the answer for who is to blame remains in the mirror.
Wednesday we’re going to find out what games we are going make the family watch on Christmas Day, which piss off our drunk uncle who will complain about how basketball was “better back in his day.”
Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET the NBA will announce the league’s schedule for next season in a special on NBA TV. That show will highlight the marquee games of the season — starting with the Oct. 28 double header tip off — and by the time it is over all the teams in the NBA will have released their schedule.
But some things are starting to leak out. Here is what we know.
• Christmas Day will feature five games and we apparently know all of them: Cavaliers and LeBron James at the Miami Heat (likely one of the two ABC marquee games); the Thunder and Spurs face off according to Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman (likely the other ABC game); the Clippers and Warriors (likely the last game of the night, as it was last year); the Knicks and the Wizards (likely the first day of the game); and the Bulls and Lakers (reportedly in Chicago).
• The Oct. 28 double header to open the season will feature the Spurs in one game, according to multiple reports, although there seems to be a split between whether the Cavaliers or Mavericks are the opponents (the Cavaliers make more marketing sense). The late game is reportedly the Rockets and Clippers.
• The Knicks reportedly will open their season with a brutal back-to-back of the Bulls and then Cavaliers.
• Andrew Wiggins reportedly will make his NBA debut Oct. 29 when the Timberwolves travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies.
• The NBA will play two regular season games overseas, both on Nov. 12 — the Rockets and Timberwolves in Mexico City, and the Knicks and Bucks (coached by Jason Kidd) in London.
Steve Ballmer was the energy guy at Microsoft — he was the recruiter, he was the guy who pumped up the crowd at events, he was the relentlessly positive force pushing the business forward.
The Clippers could certainly use some of that sunshine coming out from under the Donald Sterling cloud.
Ballmer formally purchased the Los Angeles Clippers from the Sterling Trust on Tuesday. Donald Sterling will try to be a nuisance (and likely succeed at that) but the days of him owning the Clippers are over.
So why does Ballmer want to own an NBA team in general and the Clippers specifically? Because he loves the game, according to Clipper player and fellow Seattle guy Jamal Crawford. In an interview with Sam Amick of the USA Today Crawford talked about seeing Ballmer at charity and other basketball events in Seattle all the time.
“At the root of everything he does and has done, he has always loved basketball,” Crawford, a Seattle native, told USA TODAY Sports by phone Tuesday after the sale to Ballmer was announced by the NBA. “I remember one time we went to Spokane (Wash.) for a game out there, a charity game, and he flew up there just to watch some pros play. He’s always somebody who’s very excited and very motivated, and I’m sure he’ll be like that (with the Clippers) times 10.
“Going back to the (Seattle Super)Sonics years, he was always a big supporter. And now having his own team, I’m sure he’ll be that much more enthused and motivated and excited to keep a championship level contender and be part of something special with him at the helm. I’m very excited for him, personally, since I’ve known how he feels about the game.”
Clippers fans should feel pretty good right now.
This was team on the cusp of contention last season, one that may have been the third or fourth best team in the NBA in the playoffs but when you combined the Sterling distraction with facing the Thunder the Clippers got bounced. Now they have an owner that will push them, they are back for a second year in the same system and Spencer Hawes was a quality, underrated pickup this summer (he is a huge improvement off the bench over Glen Davis).
Ballmer is going to give Doc Rivers and this team everything they need to win — and his energy and star power are going to help the Clippers make inroads in the Los Angeles market. They are never going to be the entrenched Lakers in Los Angeles (L.A. is a Lakers town) but there are casual fans that can be reached and in a city with a lot of people moving to it every year there are new fans to grab.
Like I said, Clippers fans should feel pretty good right now.