On Tuesday afternoon at the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Center, LA Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson celebrated the completion of the Clippers Community Courts effort. The project was finalized with the 350th renovated facility that Steve Ballmer, his family, and the LA Clippers helped complete.
The Clippers and city of Los Angeles began this project because of the immense impact it would have on people across the entire county. At the celebration for their project's completion, Steve Ballmer said, "We hear a lot of stories from our players, kids who are now adults, who grew up essentially in a Rec Center. When we did our first court, we had a couple of guys, Lou Williams, Pat Beverley, that's where they spent their time as young guys. It was particularly cool to have a chance to make this happen."
Understanding the impact that Recreation Centers can have, such as the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Center that he was speaking at, Ballmer felt a personal connection to this project.
"We did 350 courts. That's a lot of courts. But there's a lot of people in Los Angeles," Ballmer said. "There is one of these courts within two-miles of 98% of the four million people who live in Los Angeles... There are multiple thousands of people who have already played in these."
According to L.A. County’s 2020 Census, 98.1% of L.A.’s population lives within a two-mile radius of a Clippers Community Court, and 76.7% lives within a one-mile radius. The breadth of this project, which is largely due to Ballmer's ambition, allows it to reach people from all areas of Los Angeles County.
According to the Justice Equity Need Index, 76% of Clippers Community Courts are in zip codes that the County of Los Angeles has classified as having a community need. Additionally, approximately 83.6% of L.A.’s unhoused population lives within a one-mile radius of a Clippers Community Court. This element of the project is what Ballmer was especially passionate about, saying, "In my gut, I know this kind of facility, and the 350 other courts, I know they do make a difference... I have a special place in my heart for Community Centers."
In addition to renovated courts, these indoor and outdoor facilities will provide safe places for people in need to gather and receive city benefits. This ensures that Ballmer's vision, which includes people of all ages across Los Angeles, can benefit from this massive effort.
Since Los Angeles began renovations four years ago, the 350 Clippers Community Courts have been used as everything from shelters and food distribution centers during the pandemic, to basketball courts for both organized and pickup games. When the project was first presented, Ballmer said the expectation was that it would take 10 years; however, four years later, he and the Clippers were able to reveal the 350th renovated facility. Had there been 351 courts in Los Angeles, Ballmer said that's how many they would have done.
In addition to the renovated sports facilities at The Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Center, where Ballmer and the Clippers celebrated on Tuesday, the Clippers also built a state-of-the-art new Technology Lab, which features new computers, furniture, and technology for a recording and photography studio, including a portable sound room, green screen, camera, and musical equipment.
When asked if he once dreamed of being able to aid in projects like this, Ballmer said it's something that never seemed possible until he became blessed with the resources to actually accomplish it. Recognizing the impact such an effort will have, Ballmer continues his commitment to being much more than an NBA owner, and the Clippers continue their commitment to excellence both on the court and in the community.