I’m just gonna come out and say it: I think Steve Ballmer is too hyped, and I’m concerned for him.
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is insanely fired up after signing Kawhi and Paul George pic.twitter.com/NrnrLADzSq— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) July 25, 2019
Now, look, we should all be so lucky as to have an owner of our favorite team so beside himself that he sounds like Matt Foley giving a motivational speech in your living room, and to be fair, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George arriving is the most exciting thing to happen in his Clippers tenure so far, so this is justified in a way. But I honestly don’t see how Ballmer can keep this up all season without exploding on the sideline like a Spinal Tap drummer.
This is all par-for-the-course for Ballmer, whose hype level has been through the roof for nearly 40 years. The former Microsoft CEO is a legend in the tech community for his often off-the-rails levels of excitement for things like operating systems, web development, and much more. He’s famous for screaming “I LOVE THIS COMPANY!” to a small army of Microsoft employees after taking over as CEO, sweat pouring down his brow as if the moment was all too much.
Ballmer’s excitement has always been calculated, to an extent. This is a man who knows that part of his job is getting people excited. When you’re the most amped-up person in the room, everyone else (in theory) feels comfortable to come out of their shell and at least meet you halfway.
This level of investment isn’t always healthy, however. There are accounts of him needing vocal reconstruction surgery from shouting too much, and court documents from 2004 that describe Ballmer as throwing a chair across the room while shouting “I’m going to f***ing kill Google!” in response to an executive leaving Microsoft for the company. He’s also banned his family from using iPhones, and replaced Apple products in the Clippers’ organization with Microsoft ones.
A (brief) history of Steve Ballmer’s over-the-top exploits and eccentricities.
- Long before this time at Microsoft, Ballmer wanted to be a screenwriter in Hollywood. He was terrified of leaving his then-job at Proctor & Gamble, where he was marketing cake mixes. To amp himself up to tell his bosses he was leaving the company, Ballmer blasted Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” in the car on the drive to the office.
- After leaving Hollywood, he enrolled in business school at Stanford. He would amp himself up for class — every single day.
“He would keep telling himself, ‘I’m gonna kick some ass in class today,’ “ says classmate Dan Rudolph, who rode with him. The sound track for this mantra was often Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You”.
- Microsoft programmers say he would routinely march down the halls of the company at 2 a.m. chanting “YES! YES! YES!” while they were developing Windows.
- If a conversation got too technical in a meeting, he would dismiss it, calling it “geek sex.”
- He’s a meme.
- That time he kept saying the Clippers were going to be “hardcore.”
- When he dunked off a trampoline at halftime.
Steve Ballmer just gave everyone in the building Chuck Taylors and then did this pic.twitter.com/dask7DlmiM— Rowan Kavner (@RowanKavner) March 1, 2016
- That time he lost it when the Clippers came back against the Warriors.
We are all Steve Ballmer todaypic.twitter.com/hwtCVDpdwj— Emiliano Carchia (@Carchia) April 16, 2019
So here we have Steve Ballmer, a fiercely loyal (often to a fault) guy who is prone to getting over-excited (sometimes to the detriment of his own health), now owning a team that is a favorite for the NBA title after signing the reigning NBA Finals MVP. I was already worried about Ballmer back in 2014, when he had just bought the team and they were merely good. What happens now, given that Leonard and George are going to undoubtedly be one of the most exciting tandems in the NBA this season?
Now all we can do is wait and see if his white-hot passion causes him to incinerate court side. God help any ref who decides a game with a call he doesn’t like, now the stakes are higher than ever.