Who is Steve Ballmer, who's about to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion? We'll tell you in detail in just a bit, but first, we'd like to show you:
Yes, that's your latest owner, most likely, and if he doesn't do that romp-around dance during the Clippers' first game of the 2014-15 season, we're prepared to consider this whole purchase a failure.
Ballmer is a man who can act like that onstage, because Ballmer is a man who has more money than most of that audience put together. And if the former Microsoft CEO is half as outspoken in the world of the NBA as he was in the world of technology, he's going to oust Mark Cuban from the outrageous-owner throne.
You may not know who Ballmer is, but you may very well be reading this on a product in some way influenced by him. Ballmer made his estimated $20 billion fortune in Microsoft, where he served as CEO from 2000 to this past February. He'd been involved with the company right from the beginning, when he met a fellow Harvard student by the name of Bill Gates. Under Ballmer's watch, Microsoft moved away from its PC-only mentality and diversified into product lines and services that now include Xbox, Cloud Storage, and Skype.
Ballmer has long been a favorite among tech-industry types because of his outsize personality, which combines circus ringleader, infomercial hawker and boxing-ring announcer. As a result, his videos are must-watch, like this 1986 one hawking Windows 1.0 (A calendar! A clock! And Reversi!):
A few years later, he brought a similarly understated approach to shilling Windows XP:
And he's a man not afraid to sweat for what he believes in. If he gets this excited about software developers, imagine how thrilled he'll get about swingmen!
One important point to note: the Clippers are almost surely staying in Los Angeles. While Ballmer was part of a team that unsuccessfully tried to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, he told the LA Times that the team's Los Angeles location is a key element of its value.
Ballmer: "I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensurethat the Clippers continue to win – and win big – in LA"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
He also took pains right from the start to distance himself from Donald Sterling, whose Clippers reign has ended in ugly, racially-stained disgrace:
Ballmer: "LA is one of the world’s great cities – a city that embraces inclusiveness, in same way that the NBA & I embrace inclusiveness"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 30, 2014
Four words, once we catch our breath: This. Will. Be. Fun.