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Monson: Steve Ballmer has good reason to drop $2 billion on Clippers

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Unless he moves the club to Seattle.

Anybody who’s ever watched Ballmer’s presentations in online videos can see the outrageous enthusiasm the man has. He really loves basketball.

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That passion reminds me of the late Larry Miller, who spent nowhere near the money for the Jazz in his initial investment that Ballmer is shelling out for the Clippers. But the money Miller did pay — more than double his net worth for the first of two $8 million installments — was a far greater risk. He borrowed the money. Ballmer is worth an estimated $20 billion.

I asked Larry once what the thrill was in owning an NBA team. Why would he, back before he was an extraordinarily rich man, take that kind of risk?

"Just ’cuz," he said, grinning. "Maybe I was a little crazy."

Still, the Jazz were never an expensive toy for Miller.

He wanted the team because he was hyper-competitive, he loved sports and he saw the value to the community. He also saw a business opportunity, a chance to jump in on a growing investment. He figured the worth of NBA franchises would ride a rocket — and they did.

They still are.

"I saw the big picture," he said. "Where others saw nothing, I saw something. … It gave me a sense of ‘I can do it, whatever it is.’"

More than anything, though, Miller said his buying the Jazz was an emotional decision.

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"I just wanted to own the team," he said. "For me, it became a passion."

Steve Ballmer has his passion now, too.

Two billion bucks worth.


For the best reason of all: Because the crazy-smart, crazy-wealthy, crazy-crazy man wants to.

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM The Zone.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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