About Steve Ballmer and the Clippers


It looks like Steve Ballmer’s deal to buy the Clippers is a sure thing but what does the former Microsoft man want with a basketball team? Emmet Ryan says this is more than just a toy for the newest owner in the NBA.

First things first, Steve Ballmer is already a massive upgrade as owner of the Clippers. The bar is so low that we could resurrect Nixon and give it to him and it would be an improvement on the Sterlings. Assuming the $2 billion deal gets ratified, Ballmer will become the latest tech billionaire to invest in a NBA franchise, following Mark Cuban. The former Microsoft CEO has the potential to be just as fiery and controversial as the Mavericks’ owner.

Economically speaking, looking at the Clippers purely as a business, the fee looks high. The inflation in sports franchise prices however, with billionaires treating them as luxury items, means we have to look past conventional economics. Paying $2 billion for the second team in Los Angeles (yes they are currently better but the Clippers are dwarfed by the Lakers in the popularity stakes) looks ludicrous now but, as pretty much every NBA owner looking to sell has found out, Ballmer will be able to offload the team for far more should he look to in a few years.

Fundamentally this is about a challenge for Ballmer. You have to get inside the mind of a man who joined Microsoft back in 1980. He was just the firm’s 30th employee. That was a company in a challenging environment looking to explode. Over the next three decades they became the dominant player, the incumbent everyone deferred to. They were the Jordan era Bulls, nobody could touch them. As giants Microsoft lost flexibility, giving room for Google to charge ahead. Ballmer famously declared he was going to “fucking kill Google”. That didn’t work out so well and then the Surface, Mircosoft’s hybrid tablet-cum-laptop, which Ballmer heavily backed failed to catch fire. Essentially the fight wasn’t fun anymore. Being CEO of Microsoft still gave him a ton of power in the world but, like being GM of the Lakers right now, it also came with a pile of headaches.

Ballmer’s aggressive manner at Microsoft made him look like the bad guy, a villain people liked to see taken down a peg or two. In truth, he was just trying to bring his business forward but his persona grated plenty in the public sphere. In Los Angeles, he has a new challenge, a chance to make the fiery image look positive in the public eye.
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Eurobasket 2013: Which NBA players are in, which are out?

Because it’s never too early to start looking ahead to Eurobasket 2013 – wait a minute, there’s only 11 weeks left until tipoff? Definitely not too early, then, to take a look at the formative rosters for the big Continental tournament.

While only a few national teams (Croatia and Lithuania among them) have released preliminary rosters at this point and a few major leagues still playing (Spain, Greece, Germany, Italy, etc.), we can at least deduce which NBA players will or won’t be playing. After all, the rosters of 93.3% of NBA teams have finished their 2012-13 season – and the Miami Heat have no Europeans!

Below is a rundown of each team and the status of their potential NBA players. A few high-profile draft choices and rights-owned guys expected to jump over soon are also peppered in, along with links to appropriate sources. If you find/hear of anything relevant to the list, please comment below.
And we’ll do this group by group…

Group A
Belgium –
no current NBA players

France – Kevin Seraphin (Washington Wizards) is out for ’13 but hints he’ll be back in the future.

Ten days ago, based on a L’Equipe report, website Catch-and-Shoot described Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)’ Eurobasket status as *très incertain*, and after another punishing NBA season seems unlikely.

No official word on Nicolas Batum (Portland), though the Trail Blazers reportedly be “watching Batum’s injury” this offseason. Perhaps some discouragement is forthcoming…?

France-based media outlet Figaro reported back in May that Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers) and Ronny Turiaf (Los Angeles Clippers) would play; this may have been speculation based on prior results, but Turiaf’s presence on Les Blues for this tournament has been on coach Collet’s mind for a while.

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NBA on Christmas Day: BallinEurope’s Official Fearless Predictions™

Here on The Continent, all but the hardiest envy those in the Western Hemisphere today; as the holiday fades into evening here, the NBA’s awesome quintupleheader is just beginning: To watch this live, the European would have to pull an all-nighter, with wall-to-
wall basketball straight through to 7am or so. BallinEurope plans to watch the first two and get up before the rooster for the 4.30am CET tipoff of Clippers-Nuggets.

In any case, apologies for the delay, but below run BallinEurope Official Fearless Predictions™ for the Christmas slate. The first game’s already begun (full disclosure: as of this writing, it’s Brooklyn Nets 16, Boston Celtics 12), but BiE’s got the Cs winning in Spike Lee’s neighborhood – wish it could be proven, but BiE did post his vote this way in the ESPN Sports Nation poll today.

On the rest of the slate, the other OFPs include the Los Angeles Lakers over the Knicks in a nailbiter in which Steve Nash goes for nine assists (of course); the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Miami Heat by 8; the Chicago Bulls defend home court against the Houston Rockets, winning by 10 despite game high-scorer James Harden’s efforts; and in that battle of the league’s most exciting teams, the red hot Los Angeles Clippers extend the winning streak (which will end against the Celtics in their upcoming match) over the Denver Nuggets by, BiE’ll say, 11.

Enjoy the wall of ’ball; BallinEurope sure will…

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Taking stock of European players in the NBA, 2012-13

Koufos one of four Euronuggets

BallinEurope will be celebrating NBA Opening Day with lots of stuff centered on the big league; firstly, BiE takes stock of Continental ballers in the ‘States.

Taking a look at this year’s roundup, we note that 53 Europeans have been named to NBA clubs’ 15-man roster, just beating the pace of the 52 listed in 2010-11. (BiE didn’t take the tally for last season because, you know, things were kinda confusing during the lockout and all…)

And quite a few teams have seriously European-tinted rosters: Five teams go into the 2012-13 NBA season with four Continental players – and of these 20 players, perhaps only Sasha Pavlovic and Evan Fournier are marginalized at the lower end of the 15-man rosters. If one includes Ty Lawson as an honorary Lithuanian (for at least one more season), the Denver Nuggets could put an all-Euro squad on the floor with Lawson heading up an admittedly odd lineup of Fournier, Danilo Gallinari, Kosta Koufos and Timofey Mozgov.

The team-by-team breakdown goes as follows.

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The book on Ryan Richards in NBA Summer League – plus monster dunk

A shout out this morning to Britain-based HoopsFix and “hardworking 6’5” 187 lb. versatile small forward” Peter Grumble for tipping BallinEurope off to a big play from Ryan Richards, currently competing for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Summer League.

For more on Richards, click below the break, but now, the clip.

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Who can stop Team USA?

This one goes out by request to BallinEurope’s Lithuanian agent Y. … with Team USA coming together to play the Dominican Republic today – with or without Chris Paul – BiE tries to answer the question “Who [if anyone] can beat Team USA?”

Good one.

A few gauntlets have been thrown by the Americans already, the least of which is certainly not the roster itself. That roster, one more time, is the following.

Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
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Bundesliga weekly recap reveal: Jared Jordan a more valuable playmaker than Nash, Rondo?

It’s time for another BallinEurope shameless plug. Contributing writer David Hein has produced yet another great writeup over at the German Bundesliga’s official website. Check out a column chock full of videos and recaps, including the now semi-obligatory update on Team Zimbabwe/BG Göttingen’s Vitalis Chikoko.

BiE can’t help but spill the beans on one scintillating item in the piece, though: Just take a look at how much former Marist College/Lietuvos Rytas point guard Jared Jordan means to Telekom Baskets Bonn below – “playmaker,” indeed.

For comparison’s sake, below run some of the top assist guys in the NBA and their ratios of contribution to their teams’ success.

Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns: 26.61%
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: 26.48%
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: 22.26%
John Wall, Washington Wizards: 21.96%
Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: 21.26%
Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors: 20.63%

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Tweet of the week: Kevin Love charts Ricky Rubio’s progress in English

Not only did Kevin Love put in a superstar-level 39-point, 17-rebound performance in his Minnesota Timberwolves’ 95-94 win over the Los Angeles Clippers last night, he also has BallinEurope’s informal Tweet Of The Week award locked up on Tuesday. And the 141-characters-or-less bit of pithiness is (drumroll, please) …

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Earl Boykins and D.J. Mbenga to Olympiacos – If so, when?

So it’s not quite Kirilenko-to-CSKA, but it’s got BallinEurope on pins and needles. To wit, the ostensible signings of Earl Boykins, a free agent currently listed as the shorter player in the NBA ranks, and fan favorite D.J. Mbenga by Olympiacos.

For nearly a week, the story of the Reds signing the 5’5” Boykins has been getting play from American sources to Greece-based Sentragoal, but nothing doing as yet.

Akin Akingbala had reportedly been on the Olympiacos radar, but SLUC Nancy is apparently not interested in letting loose the point guard as yet. Boykins actually spent the 2008-09 season in Europe, playing for Virtus Bologna.

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The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Western Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.

*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).

As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.

To BiE, it looks something like this.

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