There is no debating that the LA Clippers are a completely different team from the Donald Sterling days. They have gone from Lob City with the relatively homegrown star power of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul to the miracle team acquired by careful trading and smart drafting that features both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
We covered the changes of the actual team in another article here on Los Angeles Sports Nation, but the major change for the Clippers and the most important part of them all is their charity work. What the organization has done to not only improve themselves but the city they’ve called home since 1984. Let’s take a look at some of the most generous acts of the Clippers over the Steve Ballmer era.
The Los Angeles Cheapskates
Long before Steve Ballmer became their owner, the Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1984 after their former owner Donald Sterling decided to abandon San Diego. He had his own charity and frequently advertised it in the newspapers for years. But, considering the man behind the ads, they were all hard to prove, and his charity was a bit shakey.
The Clippers as an organization created its own charity back in 1994, as Donald Sterling wanted to fit in with all the other LA teams that were giving back to their city. However, the Clippers were not anywhere near the top of the list of foundation contributions, and their best works were yet to come. For the time though, they did help parts of the community, and they did quite a lot for having Sterling as their owner.
Cheapskates to Charitable
After Sterling was sent out and Ballmer was brought in as the new owner of the Clippers, things started to change drastically. One of the earliest acts of kindness from Ballmer’s Clippers is one that speaks the most volumes.
Charlie Campbell was a young LA Clippers fan that had lost his sister in a car accident a few months before a February game back in 2015. Blake’s parents reached out to the Clippers to see if he could get any sort of special treatment for a game in order to help him through his grief. The organization was thrilled to do so. They gave the Campbell family prime tickets to a Clippers game in Memphis, and not only did Charlie get to meet Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, but also the stars of Lob City as well. He got a pair of shoes from Jamal Crawford, some signatures from the rest of the team, and then enjoyed a great game rooting for the team that gave him the night of his life.
The individual stories of the countless lives touched by Ballmer’s Clippers are breathtaking, but perhaps even better are the community stories.
Giving Back To the Home Crowd
The LA Clippers as an organization have also been more charitable to their community. The most major example of that was the $10 million donation straight to the L.A. Parks Foundation by Steve Ballmer in 2018. In order to see local LA courts improve and become more desirable, Ballmer had given that money back to the kids of LA that wanted nothing but to play their favorite sport. It’s the small donations like that in which the Clippers show the most heart. It’s giving not only to just those who can afford it but everyone interested in the great sport of basketball.
Steve has also personally overlooked the operation while working with the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti. He didn’t just stop at a few courts however, Ballmer’s ultimate goal was improving every court in the Los Angeles area. Something that wouldn’t happen if the owner and his organization didn’t care about anything more than looking nice. The Clippers have really stepped up their contributions, now competing with the likes of local powerhouse foundations such as the Kings Care Foundation and the Dodgers Foundation.
Kawhi Makes A Comeback
Beyond the organization, the giving spirit has also trickled down through the players over the years, and the latest act of giving happened just a few days ago. After LA native Kawhi Leonard made his way back to his home county via free agency back in July, he decided to do some good of his own much like the organization that brought him back. Kawhi announced that he would be partnering with Baby2Baby to give out a million backpacks to students around Moreno Valley, Inglewood, and Los Angeles. He started off by giving backpacks to everyone at his own elementary school, Cloverdale Elementary.
The backpacks were meant to relieve some of the financial stress that comes along with buying school supplies, and Kawhi himself said that he wanted to, “...help off and on the court in a great way and I felt that this would be a great way to start.”
All backpacks given out all dawned the LA Clippers logo, and the logo was really the symbol of a team and an organization that cares about how the residents of their city are doing.
LA is a city full of teams and different leagues, and at the very bottom are the Clippers of the NBA. The third-worst winning percentage in the NBA, and yet they’ve given so much back to their community, and continue to keep on giving.
Sometimes, it isn’t the play on the court, field, or rink that defines the heart of a team. Sometimes, it’s what they can do for their fans and their city that speaks louder than their play.
Charitable Acts: nba.com and the Orange County Register Pictures: nba.com and thesource.com