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Steve Ballmer wows his Clippers’ fans

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

In August 2014, Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team for $2 billion. The former Micro­­soft CEO had just paid a record amount to own an NBA team.

A few days later, Ballmer, 59, introduced himself to fans by delivering a 13-minute over-the-top speech. He acted more like a passionate cheerleader than a corporate billionaire.  

From the opening minute, Ballmer’s enthusiasm envelops the room. He speaks loudly, with unbridled emotion, and leads chants to stir up the crowd.

Screaming into a microphone, Ball­­mer builds instant rapport with the audience. He never loses eye contact with fans, except to look across the stage occasionally to the head coach and some players. Within a few minutes, fans feel so comfortable with Ballmer that they shout gleeful comments from their seats. When Ballmer says he’s going to spend more time in Los Angeles (he lives in Seattle), a fan yells, “You can stay at my house.”

Promising to produce a championship team, Ballmer pledges to stay close to the fans. He even gives his email address (

To lead a pep rally, it helps to repeat key words. Ballmer understands this; at one point, he assures the audience, “We’re going to be hardcore.” Then he repeats “hardcore” six times in the next few sentences. Ballmer also gestures energetically and almost never glances at his notes. And he cites Colin Powell, who once addressed Microsoft and said, “Optimism is a force multiplier.” Ballmer pounces on Powell’s comment to inspire the crowd as he whips them in a frenzy.

— Adapted from “New Clippers Owner Steve Ball­­­mer Goes Bonkers In Epic Introduction Speech,” Tony Manfred,

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