Since purchasing the LA Clippers franchise in 2014, Steve Ballmer has been in pursuit of a new arena. That vision has now become a reality with the Inuit Dome set to debut in 2024. While the Clippers will finally be separating themselves from Staples Center, the building they have shared with the Lakers for over two decades, the move has not been met with unanimous support.
While Ballmer has pledged a $100M donation to the city of Inglewood, with $80M reportedly going to affordable housing, some protestors have concerns about displacement. These are valid concerns, and both Ballmer and the Clippers should be held to their promise of maintaining affordable housing in Inglewood despite the arrival of their luxurious arena.
Some opposition, such as the concerns surrounding displacement, is absolutely valid; however, Ballmer feels that some Laker fans may feel threatened by the Clippers' ascension. In a recent column from the LA Times, Ballmer provided several quotes that were seemingly directed at Laker fans.
The Clippers have been a historically dreadful franchise, but that has changed since Ballmer took over. In the 44 years between their inception in Buffalo and Donald Sterling's last day as owner, the LA Clippers franchise had just 9 winning seasons, and made the playoffs just 10 times. In the seven seasons under Steve Ballmer, the Clippers have made the playoffs six times, and finished over .500 every single season.
Ballmer recognizes this, and said that "We’re not the old screwed-up franchise in town." This was once the case, but Ballmer does not believe it still is. Are Laker fans threatened by this? Ballmer believes it's possible. To these fans, Ballmer says, "I have been surprised by animus from Lakers fans, and my message has sort of been, why, you don’t have enough confidence in your guys?"
Whether Ballmer is incorrect, partially correct, or entirely correct, he has continued to excel in his pursuit of establishing the Clippers as one of the league's premier franchises.