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Ballmer’s side project

Owning the Clippers’ isn’t Steve Ballmer’s only post-Microsoft project. Here’s an update on USAFacts.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Ballmer’s non-proft USAFacts officially launched in April of 2017, but the group is already trying to insert itself into our national policy discussions. The group, whose slogan is “Our nation, in numbers,” hopes to hold the government accountable by quantifying our current state of affairs with the most up-to-date data possible. Today, that means using data to fact-check new tax proposals at the Federal level.

Ballmer recently appeared at a conference hosted by the Milken Institute to talk about his many projects (he is also co-founder of the Ballmer Group, a philanthropic group). You can watch the stream here (yes, the Clippers get mentioned):

Insofar as this relates to his role as owner of the Clippers, I have two theories: 1) This conversation, and his leadership with USAFacts, give an insight into how Ballmer approaches decisions with the Clippers, most likely in respect to business operations, but perhaps with basketball decisions as well. He cares about “measuring” things, so that we can have a fact-based debate.

2) Ballmer is so interested with, and consumed by, these side projects that he does not have time to be a terrible owner. He, therefore, treats the Clippers as an outlet, just like we all do. Plenty of owners have “day-jobs,” but few approach their franchises with as much joy and a fan-like perspective as Ballmer.

Highlights:

  • Ballmer loves Pat Beverley and believes he epitomizes the “grit” he wants the Clippers to have.
  • He believes the owner of a sports team is the only one who can set the tone or culture of a franchise because coaches and players come and go (this complicates my second theory above).
  • After the season, Ballmer makes a point to meet with star players over lunch to talk about the season.
  • The Clippers are working on an online interactive product so one can see a player’s perspective of an NBA game.