Steve Ballmer

By Dave Smith, Columnist

When I was a kid, for some reason I decided I wanted a horse for my birthday; which was met with a quick “No” from my parents. I’d never ridden a horse and had shown no interest previously, but now I wanted one; probably after watching an episode of “Bonanza” or “The Big Valley.”

But then a miracle happened; my dad foolishly agreed to get me a horse, probably after my constant badgering, without going to my mom first to discuss it. Which he paid for dearly after I ran to my mom and yelled that dad had agreed to my ridiculous request.

My mom cornered him in the kitchen and said “What the hell is wrong with you? We can’t afford a horse! Where would we put it? Are you going to pay for keeping that damn horse in a stable?”

Seeing the error of his ways, my dad told her “I know, I know, the kid wore me down; but I’ll find a way out of this.”

“You’d better!” said my mom as she prepared the couch for him to sleep on.

We always had ice cream after dinner and had to clean our bowls, but one night my dad left his bowl on the mantle and it became a battle of wills; my mom yelling at him to clean it and him refusing. But he had a plan and told her, “Don’t worry, I’ve found a way out of this damn horse thing.”

The next night, as we watched TV after dinner, my dad looked at his bowl on the mantle, turned to me and yelled “What have I told you about leaving your bowl out? Take it to the kitchen and clean it!”

Incredulous, I replied, “But it’s not my bowl, I didn’t leave it there!” Then he looked at me and yelled, “There goes your horse, smart mouth!”

Now there was a man who knew how to solve a problem.

My father also told me “Son, there are four kinds of people: 1) Just getting by 2) Enough  money to live comfortably 3) Wealthy, but still have problems 4) People with “F-You money.”

And nobody is a greater example of having “F-You” money than Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

I remembered these stories when I read about Steve Ballmer purchasing the Forum for $400 million. He wants to get his new Clippers arena built here in Inglewood, but the owners of the Forum, MSG/James Dolan, were filing endless lawsuits; claiming they’d lose business with a brand new arena opening next door.

Dolan wasn’t going to win, of course, because Mayor James Butts and the City Council support Ballmer and want the thousands of jobs and revenue a new arena would provide. But MSG could delay the process, so Ballmer finally said, “Screw it, I’ll just buy the Forum and make all this go away.”

Did he overpay for the Forum? Sure he did, but he also paid $2 billion for the Clippers when Forbes valued them at $750 million. But that’s what guys with “F-you” money do; they make  problems go away. And when you’re worth $70 billion that makes a lot problems go away.

Yes, my father wasn’t a billionaire, but he did have something in common with Ballmer; they’re both problem solvers. 


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