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Clippings: Steve Ballmer takes the next step towards an Inglewood arena

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The Clippers’ quest to build their own arena in Inglewood for the 2024-25 season had an important breakthrough Sunday, as team governor Steve Ballmer is now in advanced negotiations to buy the Forum.

The Forum, which is the premier concert venue in Inglewood, is currently owned by the Madison Square Garden Company (also the owners of the New York Knicks). MSG and Ballmer have been engaged in lawsuits over the last two years ever since Ballmer’s group Murphy’s Bowl LLC bought the land.

MSG claimed that Ballmer misled them when purchasing the land by characterizing the project as a technology initiative instead of an arena, which would compete with the Forum’s business. But the city of Inglewood and California governor Gavin Newsom have worked to fast-track the project according to the L.A. Times, which would reportedly give the city a $100 million benefits package. It has been so contentious that MSG and Ballmer even backed opposing sides in the 2018 Inglewood mayoral race. Ballmer’s candidate won.

Buying the Forum would remove essentially all of the hurdles the Clippers have in building their new arena, as they would no longer have to compete with MSG’s interests. It would also be a strange turn of events for the Forum, which used to house the Los Angeles Lakers before both teams moved to Staples Center in 1999.

The Clippers have no reported interest in playing in the Forum, given their ambitions to build their new state-of-the-art facility. The Forum is also zoned purely for concerts; it doesn’t have the capacity to host basketball games. Nevertheless, the transfer of ownership is another wrinkle in the ever-expanding Battle for L.A.

Nathan Fenno of the L.A. Times has been chronicling the entire process from the very beginning. For a closer look at how the Clippers got to this point, read about the early meetings to discuss the plans for an arena, the concerns raised by Inglewood residents, the plans for what the complex would contain, the Lakers’ behind-the-scenes machinations, and how Ballmer and the Clippers kept powering through.

A new arena, one of their own, would be the next step in the Clippers’ carving out a new, independent identity in Los Angeles. That milestone appears now appears closer than ever.

On to the rest of the news:

  • When the Clippers played the Knicks earlier this season, Doc Rivers was asked if the game had an extra meeting because of the ongoing legal battle. Rivers said, “You know what would be the best part about us having the arena? We wouldn’t be having this press conference at 12 o’clock today. I guarantee you that. Back to back 12 games is ridiculous.”
  • L.A. didn’t seem too enthused about having a day game Sunday, as they let a Philadelphia team without Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid hang around for the full 48 minutes in a 136-130 win. The team’s newly-healthy depth was key in earning the victory.
  • If you’re interested in the former G Leaguer who carved up the Clippers for 39 points and tied an NBA record with 13 consecutive made 3-pointers, here’s how Shake Milton got his name.
  • On Friday, Kawhi Leonard asked Clippers fans to pay it forward. His former grade-school teachers reflected on what has and hasn’t changed about the NBA star.
  • The Clippers look pretty complete, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports they may still have interest in one more big piece.