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Exuberant new owner rallies Clipper fans at Staples Center

August 18, 2014
New Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, center, fires up the crowd as he arrives at the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

New Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, center, fires up the crowd as he arrives at the Clippers Fan Festival on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A new era formally began today for the Los Angeles Clippers, as fist-pumping, high-fiving new owner Steve Ballmer rallied thousands of fans into a frenzy at Staples Center, bellowing chants into a microphone and vowing to run a “hard-core” franchise that will deliver championships.

Wearing a blue Clippers cap, Ballmer stormed into the Fan Festival, thrusting his fists into the air, clapping and moving through the crowd, enthusiastically high-fiving cheering fans.

“Do we have any Clipper fans here?” Ballmer shouted once he reached the stage. “I can’t hear you!”

He then led the crowd in a chorus of “I love Larry” chants, a reference to the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.

“I couldn’t be more honored or excited or fired up to be here,” Ballmer told fans, some of whom began waiting in line as early as 8 a.m. for the midday Fan Festival.

He told the crowd that he can’t play basketball — but he loves the game and he loves Los Angeles, even though he lives in Seattle, where he was the CEO of Microsoft. Ballmer said he initially planned to live in Los Angeles after he graduated, but he was diverted when his college friend — Bill Gates – asked him to come work for Microsoft.

“I don’t regret living in Seattle a lick,” he said with a smile. “It worked out OK for me.”

Ballmer’s $2 billion purchase of the team from Donald Sterling was completed Tuesday.

“We’re going to be bold,” Ballmer said about his vision for the team.  ”Bold means we’re going to be willing to take risks. … If you’re not being bold, you’re going to be timid. The L.A. Clippers are going to be bold.”

He added, “We’re going to be hard core. Hard core! Hard core! … If something knocks us down we’re going to get back up. … Nothing gets in our way. Boom! Keep coming. Hard core. The hard-core Clippers, that’s us.”

Clippers President of Basketball Operations-Coach Doc Rivers, guard Chris Paul, forward Blake Griffin, center DeAndre Jordan and other players took part in the rally, thanking the fans for their support over the years and during the uproar over efforts to oust Sterling as owner. Sterling was banned

after the release of tape-recorded conversations in which he made disparaging remarks about black people.

“We genuinely, genuinely want to thank you for your support throughout the season,” Griffing said. “Sometimes you’ve got to go through a little adversity to become better … and that’s what just happened for me and my
teammates.

“We couldn’t have gone through it without you guys. we can’t wait to start our next journey.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti also took part in the rally, saying Los Angeles is “one city united” behind the Clippers.

“Welcome to the city of champions, Steve, and Clippers fans, welcome to the future,” the mayor said.

He added, “We’re ready to give the NBA a run for their money. … These Clippers are on the move.”

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