Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer took one step closer to building a new arena for the team by investing $100 million in the city of Inglewood.
Ballmer’s $100 million community benefits plan was negotiated with city officials from Inglewood as part of their arena development agreement and is set to be revealed Tuesday at an Inglewood City Council meeting.
“We’re close to a residential neighborhood and we are being very mindful,” Ballmer told ESPN in July about building the arena in Inglewood. “Investing well into the community, being a good citizen of the community. No homes need to get moved but we need to be a good neighbor.”
“I want it to be beautiful,” Ballmer added. “But I want it to be about basketball. I want it to be comfortable. But I want it to be about basketball.”
The Clippers, citing public records, called it the largest commitment of funding for community programs made in connection to a sports or entertainment venue in California, with $80 million of it going toward affordable housing, assistance to renters and first-time homebuyers, and $12.75 million going toward school and youth programs.
The Golden State Warriors, who will start playing in the new Chase Center this season, invested $18 million in transit and child impact fees in San Francisco. The Warriors say they’ve invested $29 million overall upfront toward infrastructure in the city in connection with the Chase Center.
Ballmer’s proposed “billion-dollar-plus” privately financed state-of-the-art arena would come complete with corporate headquarters, a team training facility, a sports medicine clinic, community courts and an area with a giant big screen for fans to watch games outside — all located on 26 acres in Inglewood.
“This is really a continuation of what Steve and Connie have invested in over the five years that I have known them,” Gillian Zucker, the Clippers’ president of business operations, said of Ballmer and his wife. “Which has really been about how do you tackle this idea of making the American dream available to all children and really addressing the poverty issue? In a community that we intend to call home, we have an opportunity to do something really powerful and impactful.”
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, which was published in the WSJ magazine Tuesday, Durant reflected on the journey to get to his new reality — a four-year, $164 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. And the road to this point — despite the fame, money, titles and accolades — hasn’t always been a pleasurable ride.
The two-time champion and Finals MVP hasn’t been back to the Bay Area — and has no plans to return — since suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon during Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto. He told The Wall Street Journal that he even had staffers pack up his apartment.
He knew his time with the Warriors was over.
“It didn’t feel as great as it could have been,” Durant told the WSJ.
Durant pins that on fan anxiety, media speculation and the “business” of the NBA, which he finds to be the ugly side of the league.
“Some days I hate the circus of the NBA,” Durant told the WSJ. “Some days I hate that the players let the NBA business, the fame that comes with the business, alter their minds about the game. Sometimes I don’t like being around the executives and politics that come with it. I hate that.”
Added Durant: “We talk about mental health a lot. … We only talk about it when it comes to players. We need to talk about it when it comes to executives, media, fans.”
Those same undertones still cause Durant to look back with bitterness on his time with Oklahoma City, where he spent eight seasons after the franchise moved there from Seattle after his rookie season in 2007-08. He said the positive relationships he had built over that time disappeared instantly after he made the decision to join the Warriors as a free agent after the 2015-16 season.
“People coming to my house and spray-painting on the for sale signs around my neighborhood,” Durant said of the time after his decision. “People making videos in front of my house and burning my jerseys and calling me all types of crazy names.”
Durant remains bitter because he feels that “venomous” emotion toward him, despite charitable contributions he made to the community, still lingers.
“Such a venomous toxic feeling when I walked into that arena [after joining the Warriors],” Durant told the WSJ. “And just the organization, the trainers and equipment managers, those dudes is pissed off at me? Ain’t talking to me? I’m like, ‘Yo, this is where we going with this? Because I left a team and went to play with another team?’
“I’ll never be attached to that city again because of that. I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be part of that community and organization, but I don’t trust nobody there. That s— must have been fake, what they was doing. The organization, the GM, I ain’t talked to none of those people, even had a nice exchange with those people, since I left.”
Despite saying that on “some days I hate the NBA,” Durant still expressed love for the game.
“Without basketball, I wouldn’t have done much on earth,” Durant told the WSJ. “I wouldn’t have seen stuff that I’ve seen, compared to my friends I grew up with.”
Kevin Durant Talks Relationship with Ex-Warriors Teammates, Joining Nets, More
More than two months after leaving the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant has opened up about his decision.
In a feature by the WSJ. Magazine’sJ.R. Moehringer, the two-time NBA Finals MVP discussed how he felt “different” from the rest of the Warriors:
“As time went on, I started to realize I’m just different from the rest of the guys. It’s not a bad thing. Just my circumstances and how I came up in the league. And on top of that, the media always looked at it like KD and the Warriors. So it’s like nobody could a full acceptance of me there.”
That’s not the first time Durant has brought up the feeling of being isolated. As he was sidelined by injury during the 2019 postseason, he felt as though the outside perception was, “It’s the Warriors and KD”:
He told Moehringer that while he “felt accepted,” he understood he’d “never be one of those guys,” referencing the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Curry, Thompson and Green were all drafted by Golden State, while Iguodala was the Finals MVP during the first championship of the dynasty.
And despite winning two championships as well as a pair of Finals MVP awards, Durant never felt capable of being viewed in the same light as his teammates.
The decision to leave Golden State for Brooklyn may have seemed questionable from a basketball standpoint, but the 10-time All-Star had his reasons.
He let it be known to Moehringer that the love Nets fans had shown him as a visiting player at the Barclays Center through the years had left a lasting impact on him. Not only that, but he was able to team up with Kyrie Irving, who he calls his “best friend in the league.”
Kevin Durant rips into Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s motion offense
After ditching the Warriors for the Nets in free agency with little-to-no reasoning, Durant opened up on all things that make the rounds on NBA Twitter. That includes how he fit into Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s offense.
Durant has said he simply felt the Nets were the best destination for him. He didn’t even talk with Brooklyn’s front office, he just knew. But perhaps style of play fit into his decision as well.
Entering free agency with a torn Achilles and the Warriors losing to the Raptors in six games in the NBA Finals, a part of Durant felt Gold6en State had hit its ceiling. And much of that has to do with Kerr’s motion offense.
“The motion offense we run in Golden State, it only works to a certain point,” Durant said to the Wall Street Journal‘s J.R. Moehringer. “We can totally rely on our system for maybe the first two rounds. Then the next two rounds we’re going to have to mix in individual play. We’ve got to throw teams off, because they’re smarter in that round of playoffs.
“So now I have to dive into my bag, deep, to create stuff on my own, off the dribble, isos, pick-and-rolls, more so than let the offense create points for me.”
Durant, 30, is one of the greatest isolation players in NBA history. He can score off a jump shot, he can drive to the rim or he can back you down and fade over you with his 7-foot frame. But that’s not how Kerr’s offense works.
In three seasons with the Warriors, Durant’s shots per game went down 1.6 — from 19.1 to 17.5 — compared to his nine seasons with Seattle and Oklahoma City. His efficiency also shot up as a Warrior under Kerr.
KD shot 52.4 percent from the floor with the Warriors as opposed to 48.3 percent with his former teams. The ball wasn’t solely in his hands as much, but two titles says it worked.
Durant and Kerr were at odds a bit last season, especially down the stretch. Player and coach even disputed how much the two-time Finals MVP should shoot during the Warriors first-round matchup against the Clippers, with Kerr being in favor of more shots for his star forward.
Only time will tell if Durant is correct about Kerr and the new Warriors. The same goes for if his game will work with coach Kenny Atkinson in Brooklyn.
Whatever Kerr was doing with KD and the Warriors, however, banners show it was pretty damn good basketball.