Tony Brown: Most eyes at tipoff were, I’m sure, focus…

Tony Brown: Most eyes at tipoff were, I’m sure, focused on the star players who are the driving force in this league. I’m sure back home in Atlanta the eyes of my wife and my three kids were focused on me as I finally got the opportunity to work the NBA’s premier event. It was career validation: I was considered one of the best referees in the world. When this season began, my goal was to experience that exhilarating moment again. But life threw me a curveball. Pancreatic cancer. Stage 4.
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September 19, 2021 | 3:08 pm EDT Update
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.”
Storyline: New Clippers Arena
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.”
Storyline: New Clippers Arena
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.