The Seattle Times has a piece out today detailing incoming Clippers owner Steve Ballmer’s foray into the shady world of high school prep sports and the wealthy parents living vicariously through their kids. Ballmer’s son’s basketball team at Lakeside School in Seattle sucked (lost one game by 66 points), and he wanted to make it un-suck. So he created a non-profit as a way to pump money and talent into the school, got friendly faces coaching positions, and pushed for an administration-wide commitment to athletics at the expense of academics. He was basically the owner of Lakeside basketball.
Much of this news is combed from a legal proceeding involving Ballmer and one-time friend and former Seattle Sonics advisor Steve Gordon. Ballmer and Gordon are being sued because of a business deal gone awry, but they have since had a falling out. So there is some sniping going on through depositions and other filed documents. Like this testimony from Gordon that sets the stage for Ballmer’s Lakeside takeover:
The foundation he eventually started, called A PLUS, has since become a strong presence in the community, not just for Lakeside. This is according to Tavio Hobson, a friend Ballmer made assistant coach and paid under the table, and who later became head coach at Lakeside. Once A PLUS was formed, Hobson generated a second income through the foundation.
The basketball team also seemed to get a break on academics, with some players getting special treatment, essentially full-time tutors, and more leniency when it came to poor marks than other sports. According to the football coach, who coached at Lakeside for 40 years and was on the admissions committee for 20, some basketball players were admitted to the school without the committee’s consideration.
Ballmer’s friends also pitched in where they could. Rich Padden, an attorney and big time supporter of A Plus, let a highly talented basketball player stay in his home, gave him money for things like food and gas, and also loaned him a car to put the gas in.
The tactics may have violated Washington state’s prep-sports rules, according to a Seattle Times investigation. But it all paid off: In just five years, Lakeside went from winless in its district to district champs for the first time in a quarter century.
Now with the Clippers, he can throw money at whatever he wants to improve the team.
As much as I hate Ballmer for being an overbearing helicopter parent, I respect the hell out of him for this. Millions of parents out there think their kid is better than they actually are. But Ballmer brought it to a whole new level. The man starts donating money to the school, thus gaining influence, and recruiting black kids to go play with his son.
People are fired up, calling what he said racist. Newsflash – a team full of white boys aren’t going anywhere in anything that’s not the Ryder Cup. The ironic part about it is that the same people that are fired up that he said this:
“I’m going to open up a foundation, and we’re going to get black people in here.”
Those are the same people that favor stuff like this. The politically incorrect, outraged about everything crowd, is also the affirmative action crowd. They want public policy that encourages diversity in every aspect of society. But they get all fired up when someone says they wanna recruit more black kids to come to their school.
What’s even more ironic is that this guy is taking over a franchise from the most notorious American racist since Bull Connor. I’m kind of confused what the difference is too. Donald Sterling was basically playing million dollar fantasy plantation with his basketball team. Ballmer is doing it with a high school prep school.
Meanwhile Ballmer is getting his buddies jobs on the coaching staff and giving black kids from Seattle free room and board in exchange for playing on his kid’s basketball team. And what ends up happening? His kid’s team magically goes from worst to first. Yup, I’d say the Clippers are in pretty good hands, and this guy can own my team any day of the week.
Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.