Clippers keep positive emotions flowing


VIDEO: Brent Barry interviews Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers

Steve Ballmer didn’t need to do anything other than have a pulse. Show up, avoid verbally tripping over himself, maybe begin negotiations on the next set of fan rankings, since Shelly Sterling is obviously No. 1 because of her decades of spending all that money on a tight income to buy tickets without personal gain, and also because it says so in the sales agreement.

Seriously, Ballmer being the Clippers owner is enough — it means Donald Sterling is not. Game over. The Clips win the offseason. Ballmer’s a hero.

And then it came time to actually do something.

When the team held a fan fest at Staples Center shortly after the $2-billion deal became official, Ballmer showed he had more energy than money, a burst of fist pumps, high fives and chest bumps. Music played. Promises were made about the organization’s relentless approach to winning. The crowd that would have loved him anyway, because of who he wasn’t, appeared to connect with the new boss even more.

Wednesday was another of those moments. Doc Rivers got a new contract as coach and head of basketball operations, the team announced. About three months ago, he was having to consider leaving, wanting to be with the organization in a city he loves but not at the cost of working for someone who had just spouted such racist comments. And now, Rivers signed a package reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! worth $50 million over five years.

Fist pump.

High five.

Chest bump.

Ballmer is the owner, but Rivers is the leader. That was the case anyway behind the scenes, a role Doc grabbed almost immediately after joining the Clippers and moving to marginalize Sterling on basketball matters, even if it meant publicly calling out the boss. (Sterling could have fired him the first week of the season, for all Rivers cared. Rivers knew he would get another lucrative offer before long, and even if he didn’t, anything was better than living with Sterling’s destructive intrusions.) But once Sterling’s hate became public and the first round against the Warriors stopped being just about the first round against the Warriors, Rivers’ navigation of an impossible situation became the public platform of his value.

Rivers had two more years on the deal he signed after being traded, at his request, from the Celtics, championship credentials in tow. Ballmer could have wanted to settle in, get a feel for the operation before making any major decisions that didn’t need making in August, maybe even wait the entire 2014-15 to see if Rivers can deliver more than a trip to the second round. Instead, the new contract ends the issue of the coach/president and his future in a move for stability.

It is why the new deal can be so expected and so celebrated.

“This is an important day for this organization,” Ballmer said in the statement announcing the move. “I am excited to work with Doc for a long time as we build a championship culture that will deliver results both on and off the court. Not only is Doc one of the best coaches and executives in the game, but he continually embodies the hard core, committed and resilient character and winning culture that the Clippers represent. It was one of my top priorities to ensure that he was firmly in place as the long-term leader of this team.”

Pep rallies on the home court in the dead of the offseason to energize fans don’t mean anything on the court, championships are not determined based on the heat an owner brings, and promises about driving hard to win titles is typical campaign promise. The events ordinarily mean nothing. The difference this time is that it’s the Clippers post-Sterling, after fans and the organization alike had endured so much even when the topics did not splash across CNN. So, yeah, they absolutely mean something.

A fan fest, all but accompanied by “Ding, dong, the witch is dead” playing on a loop, and a predictable contract should be feel-good moments after everything the organization has been through. Steve Ballmer has shown up, and he has more than a pulse.

19 Comments

  1. Alex says:

    Save the positive vibes…they don’t win championships LOL

  2. CityOfAngels says:

    Beating the Lakers by 48 points last season was the Clippers way of telling LA basketball fans: “Listen Up, there’s a new sheriff in town.” They maintain bragging rights until the Lakers can get into the playoffs (which might be a few years). Need to perform better in the postseason, in a competitive Western Conf

  3. Shaq says:

    All they need is a good defender small forward /guard they are the team to beat once they got one go Clippers

    • TEG says:

      they are a team to keep watch, but to say once they get a SF/SG that defends they are the team to beat? that I beg to differ

  4. ImJusSayin says:

    Liken the delfino trade already dudley was just too streaky. I don’t think we even saw this teams potential last year when the players were not sure even if they would play some games. Doubters keep doubtin I’m not even a clipper fan but I’m not going to ignore what was happening last year.

  5. No Joke says:

    Clippers will continue to improve, and attract free agents going forward. I think they should change the Clipper’s logo, because the old logo still has that old Clippers era on it. This is the new Clippers era, and a new logo is needed.

  6. jigsaw says:

    dont know what i’m lovin more, the light @ the end of the cliiper tunnel, or the haters that r cursin it & opting 2 stay in the dark. in order to advance as a winning organization, it always starts @ the top (ask any laker fan their opinion re: lil jimmy buss). adjustments r due 2 b made & keeping a 4ward thinker like doc makes legit sense

  7. Tim Franklin says:

    Doc is smart, until you sign that big deal, keep smiling! go 08′ Celtic pride!! <3!! I will say Ballmer makes me a lil nervous with his over excited attitude. Until I read that is his style!

  8. Hope says:

    he is a good coach and you can definitely see the grit in the clippers last year. i can see them winning 1 in 5 years. kudos clippers and Go cavs.

  9. RogueGhost24 says:

    This is terrible. He’s going to move them to Seattle after they become mediocre again. He will probably get his GM to hasten the process with stupid trade decisions.

  10. jake s. says:

    Go to Wikipedia and look up Doc Rivers. His teams have made it to the Finals 2 times. His winning percentage has topped .700 2 times. I’m not questioning his ability to motivate, but he isn’t the saving grace the Clippers need. They need a true small forward. Sure Barnes can shoot and stir the pot … but has little consistency. Clippers need to decide between showmanship and substance. I’m scared that the Clippers are just going to hold the phone until the Lakers get their act back together.

    • The only way the Clippers can get their small forward is by trading the farm, but teams will require that the Clips include DeAndre Jordan if they ever want to see an upgrade. Until then, Doc’ll be throwing the kitchen sink. Point guards, shooting guards and power forwards will have to fill in at the three. Blake Griffin will have to do that also. As for trade targets, the only viable name is Rudy Gay, but he’s a cursed small forward. The only other option, then, will be for Blake Griffin to become a dual forward. Becoming a permanent three will prove that Griffin has chosen substance over entertainment.

  11. What says:

    Fake Smiles

  12. darryl dawkins says:

    Good for the Clippers. Their coach is better than their team, if you get my drift. Cliff Paul and Flake Griffin are way overrated. To me.

  13. Patty says:

    I am so happy for the entire Clipper’s organization!!! Doc Rivers is a Great man and Coach. So Deserving.

  14. TURNCOAT says:

    I had always held Coach Rivers in deep respect. I always thought of him as an honest, straight forward, genuine human being.

    In the past 14-15 months he has shown himself to be a ruthless opportunist. A man of no loyalty, beyond his own well being. A man who would see a crack and gleefully stick a crowbar in it to make room for him to go through. A man who knows which side his bread is buttered, and shamelessly licks it.

    His coaching skills notwithstanding, he is not a man I would have working in my organization.

  15. lakerslakerslakers says:

    all they need to have is the ‘yes we did’ party

  16. Chuck says:

    Good, overpaid coach forn overrated team. They will always be in trouble in a close game as their two bigs will get fouled. But maybe this year CP3 can get into the third round.

  17. Joe says:

    USA USA USA