Steve Ballmer steps down from Microsoft to lead Clippers

Aug 19, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 18: New owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Steve Ballmer addresses the fans after being introduced for the first time during Los Angeles Clippers Fan Festival at Staples Center on August 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Credit Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has stepped down from his seat on the tech giant's board in order to devote himself to his new role as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ballmer made his debut at a Monday rally to celebrate his ownership of the team, as Newsday reports:

Sweating, clapping and shouting until he was nearly hoarse, Steve Ballmer introduced himself to Los Angeles Clippers fans at a rally on Monday celebrating his new ownership of the NBA team.
 
The former Microsoft CEO made his way through the crowd inside Staples Center to Eminem's "Lose Yourself," exchanging high-fives and chest-bumping as he took the stage in front of 4,500 fans.
 
Ballmer paid a record $2 billion for the team in a sale that was confirmed by a judge last week. The name of disgraced former owner Donald Sterling, who controlled the team for 33 years before being banned for life by the NBA for racist remarks, was never uttered during the rally.
 
"We're looking forward," Ballmer proclaimed, having removed his blue Clippers hat. "Everything is about looking forward."
 
Ballmer's fervor was in stark contrast to Sterling, who never spoke to the media and was famously frugal when it came to spending on the team during decades of losing -- despite having amassed a fortune through real estate.
 
In a commentary piece for ESPN, Arash Markazi argues that the new leadership will lead to a rebirth for the troubled franchise:
 
The Clippers have been in Los Angeles for 30 years, but for the first time since they moved north from San Diego in 1984, they finally feel like a team Los Angeles can embrace.
 
And for the first time in the past three decades, Clippers fans can be proud to put on their team's gear without making apologies for their lousy owner or their lousy history or the lousy product on the court.
 
The shirts handed out to fans at the team's rally to introduce Steve Ballmer as the new Clippers owner read, "It's A New Day." But it seems more like a long overdue rebirth of a franchise.
 
Four months after the darkest period in the history of a franchise littered with dark periods, the Clippers finally have a reason to celebrate and rejoice in a new beginning.
 
Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers said he has witnessed a transformation of the faithful.
 
"When he came through the crowd, I literally had goose bumps," Blake Griffin said of Steve Ballmer following the Clippers' rally. "I know all our guys are excited about the energy he brings."
 
"The Clippers fans, to me, has been a group ... [that says], 'Shh, I'm a Clippers fan,'" Rivers said. "It's like now they can actually say it and be proud of it. And I'm very happy for them."