One day after introducing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as the franchise's two newest superstars, Steve Ballmer excitedly shuffled through five oversized cardboard renderings as he unveiled designs for the LA Clippers' proposed "billion-dollar-plus" state-of-the-art arena.
Perhaps it was fitting that he did this while in the "Blue Chips" conference room inside the Clippers' downtown Los Angeles office. After all, Ballmer's envisioned 18,500-seat arena could be quite the recruiting chip for future free agents. The Clippers' new proposed home would come complete with corporate headquarters, a team training facility designed down to the detail of how many paces it takes a player to walk from the parking lot to the locker room to the home bench, a sports medicine clinic, community courts and an area with a giant big screen for fans to watch games outside, a la Toronto's Jurassic Park — all located on 26 acres in Inglewood, California.
It will have to overcome the hurdle of a lawsuit filed by Madison Square Garden, which owns The Forum in Inglewood, but Ballmer is confident that the project — which will be completely privately financed — will get built.
The new basketball palace will have some diamond-shaped metal — including solar panels — on top of a building designed to look like a basketball with the Clippers' logo going through a net. Ballmer visited 13 to 15 NBA arenas and facilities including Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Utah, Portland, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as the University of Oregon, in hopes of finding inspiration for what he wants his arena to look and feel like.
"I want it to be beautiful," Ballmer told ESPN. "But I want it to be about basketball. I want it to be comfortable. But I want it to be about basketball."
"Being in L.A., the free-agency thing will always be a little more important to us," Ballmer later added. "That means we got to invest in the player's experience."