So Ballmer’s Buying The Clippers: Is Seattle Screwed?

Perhaps you noticed an unusually high number of “Clippy” the Microsoft Office paperclip guy jokes yesterday afternoon? It turns out, there was a reason for the madness:

Sweaty, hyperactive, ridiculously wealthy former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has reportedly reached an agreement to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for a disgusting $2 billion. For comparison purposes, Clay Bennett paid $350 million for the Sonics back in 2006. If the deal goes through, exposed racist owner Donald Sterling will be forced out of the league with the best consolation prize of all time. Justice is served.

What does it all mean for Seattle? Ballmer, of course, was the franchise player in hedge-fund bro Chris Hansen’s would-be Sonics ownership team, which - as ESPN highlights - failed repeatedly in attempts to purchase and relocated NBA franchisees to Seattle. With Ballmer now reportedly set to take full ownership of the Clippers in LA, with a deal designed to keep the team there, Hansen finds himself down a big (wallet) man and facing the reality that NBA teams like the Clippers now sell for $2 billion - far more than the offers he’s been part of for the Kings or Bucks.

Certainly, we’ve still got the arena MOU, but ...

Which brings us to the reaction. As you’d expect, many Sonics fans - a group that’s already been through the ringer - are disappointed. But not all of them. Here’s just a sampling of responses - from fans, super-fans, would-be owners and pundits - gathered through interview or found online:

Chris Hansen:

First I would like to congratulate Steve Ballmer on his apparent successful bid for the Los Angeles Clippers. Steve’s passion for basketball and commitment to the NBA will make him a great owner and strong asset for the league.

I would also like to assure Seattle fans that my remaining partners and I remain committed to bringing the NBA back to Seattle. The environmental review process for the Seattle Arena is nearing completion and we will soon be in a strong position to attract a franchise back to the Emerald City.

Kris “Sonics Guy” Brannon:

Just remember Steve has been our champion twice before. For 10 years he has been trying to help us get a team. No matter how this turns out Seattle has an ally in Ballmer.

Brian Windhorst, ESPN:

“[The Ballmer deal is] a significant blow to Seattle’s long-running hopes to reacquire an NBA team.”

Art Thiel, SportspressNW:

“If it seems as if he has quit on Seattle . . . well, he has.”

Dan Diamond, Forbes:

“... sorry, Seattle fans: Ballmer has maintained that he would keep the Clippers in Los Angeles.”

Nick Licata, Seattle City Council, prior to the deal being announced:

““If one of the project’s major financial backers is going to invest somewhere else, it would raise a red flag.”

Clippy, Microsoft Office:

"Just stop it with the goddamn jokes already. We get it."

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