Politician makes thinly veiled threat at Microsoft for Ballmer involvement in NBA relocation


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is part of a team hoping to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle.

For a team as bad as the NBA's Sacramento Kings, there sure are a lot of people in California who don't want to see them leave – just apparently not enough to keep game attendance very high.

Following news that the Kings will almost certainly be sold and relocated to Seattle, things are getting heated in California. Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, is part of a team that has proposed buying a majority interest the Kings for $341 million, and one California state senator is none to pleased at his involvement.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg wrote a letter to Fred Klass, director of the California Department of General Services, questioning why the head of a company with significant ties to California would buy and move a team to Seattle. Part of Steinberg's argument revolves around the fact that the move would cost the state jobs, something he says Ballmer shouldn't be a part of.

"If [the potential move is] true," Steinberg wrote, "I am troubled that a company and a CEO that has for so long enjoyed a prosperous and beneficial working relationship with the State of California and its taxpayers would blatantly engage in activities which are clearly and measurably detrimental to our State's job and revenue base – not to mention use profits earned through business with our State to appropriate a California-based asset."

Steinberg's letter goes on to ask Klass for information regarding how much money the city of Sacramento and state of California have paid to Microsoft for various contracts.

While he admits he has no direct involvement in determining the state's contracts, Steinberg concludes his letter by implying he will fight to keep the Kings in Sacramento.

"As a state legislator, I am well aware that I have no direct role in the day-to-day management of the State's technology procurement processes," he wrote, "but I cannot stand idly by while a prominent out-of-state company that has significantly profited from business with the State of California actively attempts to acquire and remove one of my State and my region's leading private assets."

The full letter can be read at USA Today, one of the media outlets Steinberg distributed the letter to in addition to Klass.

Source: USA Today | Image via Microsoft

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24 Comments

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All I heard was...wahhhhh wahhhh please Ballmer, don't take our team away, even if they are losers. As long as we have idiots coming to see them play, its money in the bank.

California's economy is dying because you all voted an actor into office, who pretended to be Gov. He spent all that money and didn't create ways to make it all back. All the while having extra marital affairs with women uglier than his ugly wife. lol.

Anyway...explain...how do you take one of the richest states in the union. The state responsible for the .COM boom of the 90's and run them broke? A States with the most millionaires...the most corporate headquarters for the biggest US businesses?

Losing the Kings may create a small dent, but Cali has far worse financial problems where keeping them isnt very helpful. Why can't Ballmer just make his own team? Oh and my cant Cali just replace the Kings with a better team?

They COULD move one of the two NBA franchises in LA - the Lakers or the Clippers. Both are successful, they would even remain in the same division, and the rivalry between them would be no less heated. This would be the THIRD time the Kings franchise has moved - they were an original ABA franchise located in Omaha, NE as the Omaha Kings, then they split time before eventually moving to Kansas City, MO (as the Kansas City Kings) which is where they were when the NBA/ABA merger took place before the move to Sacramento (after three long and money-losing years in Kansas City - losing fans to the University of Kansas, which plays in Lawrence, KS, not Kansas City).

The Kings started as the Rochester Royals of the NBL then switched to the BAA which merged with the NBL a year later to create the NBA. Then the Royals moved to Cincinnati until they relocated to Kansas City and renamed the Kings in 1972. Then again in 1985 they relocated to their current home of SacTown. That's 3 moves so far.

Anyway...explain...how do you take one of the richest states in the union. The state responsible for the .COM boom of the 90's and run them broke? A States with the most millionaires...the most corporate headquarters for the biggest US businesses?

Simple. Bad business decisions and the federal government.

For years (upto as late as 2008 I think) the Cali government sent more money to the Federal government than they got back. Roughly for every $1 they sent, they got $0.7 back.

M_Lyons10 said,
Maybe if California were more business friendly the current owners wouldn't be looking to sell in the first place...

You're reading way too much into this, chillax. Whenever a city loses a team, there's a portion of the population that doesn't simply lament the loss--they become angry and vitriolic, throwing rallies, starting petitions, and then never getting the fark over it.

I know this because I watched Seattle do it when they lost the Sonics. And they clearly haven't gotten over it if they're getting a new team but giving it the old team's name. It's creepy when you do it to a new pet and it's creepy now.

Here we just have some politician doing it. Making it about political philosophies and parties just makes you come across as a troll.

Joshie said,

You're reading way too much into this, chillax. Whenever a city loses a team, there's a portion of the population that doesn't simply lament the loss--they become angry and vitriolic, throwing rallies, starting petitions, and then never getting the fark over it.

I know this because I watched Seattle do it when they lost the Sonics. And they clearly haven't gotten over it if they're getting a new team but giving it the old team's name. It's creepy when you do it to a new pet and it's creepy now.

Here we just have some politician doing it. Making it about political philosophies and parties just makes you come across as a troll.


Stating a fact and pointing out that, once again, a politician is unable / unwilling to accept some responsibility for job losses in their state is not trolling. Politicians (case in point) need to grow up and take responsibility for the ramifications of their policy.

M_Lyons10 said,

Stating a fact and pointing out that, once again, a politician is unable / unwilling to accept some responsibility for job losses in their state is not trolling. Politicians (case in point) need to grow up and take responsibility for the ramifications of their policy.

You have at least three generic conservative talking point posts (lololololpelosi, wharrgrblibruls) on this page right off, and it's something you've been doing off and on for a while now. It may not be trolling, but it lacks substance all the same.

Got to love politicians...always worried about unimportant matters, while many important issues remain unattended.

sviola said,
Got to love politicians...always worried about unimportant matters, while many important issues remain unattended.
Have you seen california's bank account lately? It may be basketball, but all those tax dollars leaving (par for the course for cali) is just more nail in that insolvency coffin.

so according to him a CEO can't do anything he/she wants with his private money/assets, right?
I see he kept refering to ballmer as "company" as if saying ballmer is Microsoft and insinuating Microsoft and not ballmer is trying to move the team.....I honestly think he has a little bit of comprehension issues going on. I think he needs to get that looks at.

ctrl_alt_delete said,
so according to him a CEO can't do anything he/she wants with his private money/assets, right?
I see he kept refering to ballmer as "company" as if saying ballmer is Microsoft and insinuating Microsoft and not ballmer is trying to move the team.....I honestly think he has a little bit of comprehension issues going on. I think he needs to get that looks at.

Yeah, the whole letter reeks of juvenile "No fair!" assertions... And very anti-business. I'll bet he's a liberal.

I'm sure his political affiliation accounts for every single personality trait he has. It couldn't be pandering to his constituency or anything like that; nope, definitely mandated in his Democratic Party handbook. Good on you for making that completely unrelated connection.

Solid Knight said,
Since they didn't do anything illegal, wouldn't it be abuse of power to punish them?

Unfortunately, no one punishes politicians that abuse their position, especially for this juvenile tit for tat... If there was, Pelosi would have been indicted...

Did anybody's mind assign a respectable voice while reading this guy's quotes?

I personally went with Jon Stewart's tough guy New Yorker voice.

Joshie said,
Did anybody's mind assign a respectable voice while reading this guy's quotes?

I personally went with Jon Stewart's tough guy New Yorker voice.

I went with squeaky 3rd grader voice...