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Ex-Clippers owner Donald Sterling told Steve Ballmer having $2 billion in cash was ‘stupidest thing’ he has ever heard

Donald Sterling, Steve Ballmer, Clippers

Former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is the subject of an upcoming documentary in podcast form from ESPN’s “30 for 30.” Sterling, the disgraced real estate investor who lost his ownership in the NBA due to racist remarks caught on tape with his mistress, V. Stiviano, also reportedly laughed at current owner Steve Ballmer for having so much cash on hand to buy the team.

Ballmer is the former CEO of Microsoft who purchased the team from Sterling in 2014 following NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s lifetime ban imposed on Sterling.

Via Arash Markazi in the LA Times:

Sterling’s downfall and the subsequent $2-billion sale of the team to Steve Ballmer will be chronicled in an upcoming 30 for 30 Podcasts series called “The Sterling Affairs.” The five-part series debuts Aug. 20 and is reported and hosted by ESPN senior writer Ramona Shelburne. … One of the more interesting stories comes from Donald Sterling’s lawyer at the time, Bobby Samini, who was in a room with Sterling and Ballmer during the trial over the sale of the team.

“At one point, Donald tells Steve Ballmer, ‘I’m curious about one thing,’ ” Samini recalls. “Ballmer said, ‘Of course, what’s the question?’ Donald looks at him and says, ‘You really have $2 billion?’ We all started cracking up, and Ballmer said, ‘Yes.’ Donald said, ‘You have $2 billion in cash?’ And Ballmer said, ‘Don’t worry, I have the money. I can call the bankers and they can verify the funds.’ Sterling starts laughing and he looks at him and goes, ‘That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.’ Ballmer looks at him and says, ‘What do you mean?’ and Sterling says, ‘Why would anyone have $2 billion in cash? You should invest the money or pay off your debt. You’d be stupid to have that kind of cash.’ ”

Sterling was known for his eccentric personality and strange relationships and comments made toward his players during his time as a team member and member of the NBA Board of Governors. The irony is not lost on anyone that Sterling could direct bemusement at Ballmer’s expense when Sterling was long the exemplar for poor ownership and management in the league.

Ballmer has since turned the Clippers into a powerhouse in a relatively short time. Under his ownership, Ballmer’s Clippers traded for All-Star Paul George and signed two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard this summer.