A bold-school Steve Ballmer steals show at Clippers' Fan Festival

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Steve Ballmer

New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer cheers as he greets fans during a rally at Staples Center on Monday. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / August 18, 2014)

He entered from the stands, swaggering into Staples Center through the crowd like a prizefighter in dress slacks, pinstripe shirt and Clippers cap.

A rap song screamed and the balding middle-aged man screamed with it, weaving through stunned and laughing fans with high-fives, fist pumps, chest bumps and gyrations.

He was a human Lob City, a guy who leapt on the stage and threw down thunderous alley-oop cheers and promises and faith. He was part weird, part inspirational and, quite wonderfully, all Clipper.

Meet Screamin' Steve Ballmer, the Wolf of Figueroa Street.

"Boom, baby!"

"We're going to be hard core! Hard core! Hard core!"

"We're going to keep coming and coming and coming and coming and coming!"

The song that accompanied the new owner's official introduction at the team's Fan Festival on Monday afternoon was Eminem's "Lose Yourself," and that is exactly what Ballmer did, the former Microsoft executive disappearing into the form of a sweating, cheering, desperate fan who just happened to fork over $2 billion to actually buy the team.

He lost himself, but surely found the respect of a Clippers nation that can finally unite outside the shadow of the deplorable Donald Sterling and under the spotlight of a guy who is just as loud and loony as they are.

"Nothing gets in our way! Nothing gets in our way!"

"Boom! Keep coming! The hard-core Clippers, that's us."

"If you're not being bold, you're being timid, and the L.A. Clippers are going to be bold!"

During an hourlong event that featured appearances by Coach Doc Rivers, eight Clippers players and even Mayor Eric Garcetti, Ballmer stole the show with a boldness that included everything from a guaranteed victory to a gratuitous shot at the Lakers.

In referring to the team's opening-night game Oct. 30 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that was transplanted from his beloved Seattle, he shouted, "I'm going to love beating the old Seattle basketball team, get our first win in the first game of the year."

In reading an email from a fan, he paused to allow some of the several thousand fans to fill in the blanks.

"Clipper fans can't stand…." he said.

"The Lakers!" several voices shouted.

"You got it," he said.

Throughout it all, he repeatedly led the crowd in cheers for the Larry O'Brien NBA championship trophy.

"I love.…" he screamed.

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