Early Monday afternoon, Luka Doncic posted on Instagram a photo of his car stereo, digitally stamped, “Dallas, Texas.” Soon after, Doncic posted a video of himself in the Mavericks’ practice facility, along with assistant coaches Jamahl Mosley and Darrell Armstrong, further evidence that Doncic indeed has returned from his native Ljubljana, Slovenia.
September 19, 2021 | 3:08 pm EDT Update
“I’m optimistic about our team,” added Ballmer. “I’m optimistic about our team success, and that optimism is a force multiplier. In many ways, the reason we did this is consistent with that optimism as a force multiplier approach.”
The Clippers owner also paid the town of Inglewood $66.2 million for the land where Intuit Dome will sit. The Clippers will get some of that back, though. Intuit, the software company that makes Turbo Tax, will pay the team more than $500 million for a 23-year naming rights slot. That deal only enhanced Ballmer’s optimism. “This stadium is about being optimistic about our team,” Ballmer said. “It’s about being optimistic about our fans. Get in the building, pump up, make energy,” Ballmer added, clapping his hands. “Your energy can feed our team to greater success.”
The Clippers estimate the Intuit Dome will generate roughly $260 million in annual economic activity for Inglewood, including over 7,000 full-time and part-time jobs. The Clippers also committed to a $100 million community benefits package. “It’s a big market,” Ballmer said. “There’s plenty of fans that can be fans of the Clippers and Lakers. But we want to tell you who we are. I think there are many folks in LA who identify with this notion of being the underdog, the person who strides. It’s almost two LA’s. It’s not all showtime and movie business. Our fans are grinders.”
Ballmer has also displayed his willingness to spend on talent. Next season, the Clippers will spend $166 million per season on player contracts, the third highest in the NBA. That brings an $88 million luxury tax bill and includes paying stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George an average annual value of $44 million per season until 2025. Those two deals will expire a year after the Intuit Dome is scheduled to open. Asked to reveal the most challenging thing to deal with as a sports owner, Ballmer responded: “Injuries – they happen. We had an injury to Kawhi, and with this injury, we’re not sure how long he’s going to be out this year.”
Ballmer, 65, entered a conference room at the Clippers downtown LA office, having conducted over four interviews, with more on his schedule. The discussion with CNBC lasted a little over 15 minutes, covering various topics from the arena and his previous life in business. Powell’s words helped explain the optimism around Ballmer’s vision for the Clippers, starting with the Intuit Dome. “You have to be optimistic to take on a huge project when you don’t start with land,” Ballmer said. “Putting the land together is quite the circus of legal issues, resolutions. We had to buy the Forum as part of that process. You have to keep your optimism.”
Ballmer was referring to the $400 million in cash he paid Madison Square Garden Company, the previous owner of the Forum. The Lakers played there from 1967-1999, and the building mainly hosts concerts today. Ballmer needed to resolve legal issues with MSG, who complained Ballmer’s new arena would damage the Forum’s income. MSG purchased the Forum for $23.5 million in 2012 and cashed out in 2020, thanks to Ballmer.
Get ready for some primal screams. If not from Joakim Noah himself, then certainly at least from the United Center faithful. The Chicago Bulls announced Friday morning that tickets for all home games are on sale as of 10 a.m. That includes “Joakim Noah Night,” presented by NBC Sports Chicago, on Oct. 28 against—you guessed it—Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks.
Noah announced his retirement last season and attended one home game but it came before fans were allowed in the building. This season, fans who are either fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be attending games.