It used to be a bit of of a throwback scene right here in Seattle on Monday night: Steve Ballmer revving up the group at the highest of his lungs, and NBA hoops again at the hardwood.
The former Microsoft CEO had Climate Pledge Arena roaring as he took the microphone at midcourt simply ahead of a preseason game between the Los Angeles Clippers, which Ballmer owns, and the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I am so excited to have a game in my hometown of Seattle, Washington!” Ballmer yelled, pumping his fist and pacing round in his trademark full of life style.
The game represented the primary NBA motion at the redeveloped area, which used to be house to the Seattle Supersonics till 2008 when the crew left the town for Oklahoma City.
The departure left a big void in town — one who Ballmer just about helped fill whilst he used to be operating Microsoft, headquartered in within sight Redmond, Wash.
Before he bought the Clippers for $2 billion in 2014, Ballmer used to be a part of an possession team that attempted to stay the Sonics in Seattle in 2008. He then turned into part of an funding crew that attempted to construct a brand new area south of downtown.
Since purchasing the Clippers, Ballmer has made it transparent from the start that he’s going to now not transfer the crew to Seattle. However, when it comes time for NBA enlargement, he stated he’s going to be in a place to make the case for Seattle to the remainder of the league.
In his 75-second speech on Monday, Ballmer thanked the Blazers, owned through the overdue Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen since 1988 ahead of he handed in 2018. He stated Allen “got me interested in basketball.”
Paul Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, is managing The Paul G. Allen Trust, which nonetheless maintains possession of Portland’s crew. Jody Allen used to be sitting courtside at the game Monday.
Ballmer closed out the speech through asking the group: “If this is a basketball city, damn it, let’s hear it!”
Approached through GeekWire at the courtroom all over pre-game warmups, Ballmer greeted us warmly however stated he wasn’t ready to remark for this tale.
Ballmer sat courtside all over the game together with his spouse, Connie, and displayed a complete vary of emotion, locked into the motion till the overall seconds, even at a preseason matchup.
The game had a who’s-who in attendance, together with Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who’s a part-owner of the Seattle Kraken, town’s NHL crew that debuted remaining 12 months. Seattle-based tech massive Amazon purchased the naming rights to the development in 2020 and altered its identify from KeyArena to Climate Pledge Arena.
Government leaders got here out to the development, together with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, and King County Executive Dow Constantine.
And in fact, Sonics legends confirmed up: Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Lenny Wilkens, Sam Perkins, Detlef Schrempf. Former head trainer George Karl used to be additionally in the group. They had been all venerated at the courtroom all over the game.
“I don’t think we have to prove anything to the NBA,” Schrempf instructed GeekWire ahead of Monday’s game. “They perceive we’ve an ideal fanbase; we’ve a terrific facility; and we’ve sufficient wealth in this town that may give a boost to a crew and pay for the entire stuff that’s wanted.
“It’s great for people to see this,” Schrempf stated of the game, “and keep our hopes alive.”