Donald Sterling is the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who (rightfully) got booted from the league after he was heard making racist remarks during a recording that was released from his former mistress back in 2014. As one of the more eccentric personalities in sports during his time with the Clips, the ousted owner is the subject of an upcoming 30 for 30 documentary called “The Sterling Affairs,” which will be released as a podcast by ESPN. As you might imagine, that means there are some pretty interesting stories making the rounds leading up to the debut.
One of those stories happens to involve the Clippers’ current team owner, Steve Ballmer, who helped co-found Microsoft to earn his insane wealth. Ballmer, per Forbes, has a reported net worth of $51 billion, so he can do just about anything he wants to do at anytime he wants. As it turns out, that means having $2 billion in cash at his disposal, which is something that Donald Sterling just couldn’t understand while the two were negotiating the sale of the Clippers a few years ago.
That’s according to Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times, who detailed an exchange between Ballmer and Sterling, which resulted in the latter actually laughing at the fact that a guy worth $51 billion could possibly have $2 billion on demand. Take a look at how Markazi described it below.
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.’ ”
Now, Donald Sterling was no slouch when it came to making money. Sure, the guy is an awful human being and was a terrible team owner, but he did manage to build an estimated net worth of $3.6 billion of his own. But there’s a huge difference between being a wealthy billionaire and being one of the top-20 richest people on the planet, as Ballmer is, and the story above clearly shows the gap between a guy like Ballmer and a guy like Sterling.
Seeing as how Donald Sterling was looked at as being cheap and running a second-tier franchise during his time with the Clippers, no one should really be that surprised that the guy couldn’t fathom another person having $2 billion in cash — even one of Steve Ballmer’s stature.