Steve Ballmer at his Clippers introductory presser: “I love Seattle. And I’m gonna love beating the old Seattle basketball team when we get our first lick in the first game of the year.” Here’s a fun fact, by the way: For the $2 billion Ballmer bought the Clippers for, he could’ve purchased the Milwaukee Bucks, moved them to Seattle, and paid for a $1.45 billion arena himself.
Anthony Slater on the brewing rivalry: “OKC is an established Western Conference power. The Clippers are ascending in that direction. The two seem set on an annual crash course that began with a dramatic playoff series last season. Plus, there are some unique player ties — Blake Griffin is from OKC, Russell Westbrook is from Los Angeles, Chris Paul was once an OKC Hornet — and a growing history of on-court altercations (most involving Griffin and Serge Ibaka). So the matchup is already ripe with intrigue and storylines. But the addition of free agent center Spencer Hawes, another outspoken and proud Seattle advocate who was highly critical of the Thunder’s relocation, and Ballmer as Mark Cuban 2.0 will only add fuel to the growing fire.”
Russell Peddle of NumberFire on Westbrook and Durant: “The truth is, Westbrook benefits largely from being Durant’s teammate. The argument that they shouldn’t be together is usually for the benefit of Durant achieving otherworldly greatness and often ignores just how much more efficient Westbrook is with Durant and how important his success as arguably the best second option in the league is to the Thunder. Besides, perhaps more important than individual achievement for either player is how the team plays with their two stars together.”
Arash Markazi of ESPN LA on Ballmer: “Ballmer assured Clippers fans during the rally that the team would stay in Los Angeles despite his connections to Seattle. He also said he would keep the Clippers name for now. There had been some support behind changing the team’s name, which originated in San Diego and has been synonymous with Sterling’s ownership over the past 30 years. It would seem like a quick and easy attempt to wash away the past struggles and failures of the franchise. But it’s those past struggles and failures that will make the Clippers name mean something different in the future if the team can win a championship.”