Well, that was fast. After former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was reported to be in the mix for the Los Angeles Clippers yesterday, it appears that he’s going to walk away the newest NBA owner, paying a reported $2 billion for the franchise. While the sale has not been approved by the NBA, all signs indicate that will be the least troublesome bit of this entire process, which saw the NBA reach a head on what can be charitably called ‘The Donald Sterling Problem,’ a thirty-year pattern of racism, discrimination, and embarrassment both inside the NBA and out that reached a new level of publicity with the release of recordings in which Sterling espoused a variation on the Plantation Politics and asked his mistress/personal assistant/hanger-on not to bring black people to Clippers games.
While there are some people that still harbor delusions about whether or not the NBA was allowed to kick Sterling to the curb like this (long story short: It was, and it didn’t violate the Constitution by doing so), the sale marks the end of an era in the NBA — one that proves that, just like anywhere else, freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence. And, honestly, the most hilarious thing about the whole debacle came from Shelly Sterling’s press release, which touted that “we have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”
The fact is that the Clippers found success in spite of the Sterling ownership, not because of it. With Ballmer, the Clippers players, employees,and owners can finally look forward to, you know, enjoying who they work for. Based on the reaction from around the sports universe, that’s an opinion that’s shared by many spectators as well. Here are the seven best responses to the Ballmer sale.