Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer admitted losing Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs was painful. The Clippers lost their superstar Leonard in the second round of the playoffs due to a partially torn ACL but still managed to reach their first Western Conference Finals.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, they couldn’t get past the Phoenix Suns without Leonard. "It was painful," Ballmer told ESPN. "Painful for Kawhi, painful for our team, painful for me and, most importantly, painful for our fans.
But yeah, we gave it a go. We gave it a good go. We managed to push past Utah, even without Kawhi. "I was proud of our guys. We were within a whisker or two of taking care of business in the Western Conference finals, even without Kawhi.
We'll see when we get him back, but we basically have most of the same team back for next year. ... I remain optimistic."
Ballmer wants the Clippers to do great things
The Clippers are building an arena in Inglewood so they won't have a need to share the Staples Center with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings.
"We needed to say, 'We're our own guys. We don't play in the same place as the other guys. We're going to have our own identity,'" Ballmer said. Ballmer wants the Clippers to have their own place.
"I've never been in a place where you had two teams in a town," Ballmer said. "I grew up in Detroit. Everybody's a Pistons fan. And I think for enough years the Clippers were bad enough, everybody could just ignore the Clippers.
"We're good now, and we're going to be good year in and year out. We're going to build our own building, more of our own identity, more of our own personality. And I think some of the fans on the other side, if you will, it's like, 'What? You dare to question our supremacy?' No, we do.
"There's 30 teams in the league. There's 29 others. And we got one that happens to be based in L.A. And we got our fans. We use our expression, 'LA Our Way.' And we're building our own presence, identity.
And if the other guys feel a little threatened -- the other guys' fans, I mean; the players are actually a little different deal -- but if they feel a little threatened, that's OK. It means we're doing good."