Ballmers and Clippers make major gift to renovate basketball courts across L.A.
At a press conference held on Monday at the Jim Gilliam Recreation Center in South Los Angeles, Steve and Connie Ballmer, along with the L.A. Clippers, announced a multi-million-dollar donation to the L.A. Parks Foundation. The money will go towards renovating nearly 350 basketball courts in city parks by the year 2021.
On hand for Monday’s announcement were the Ballmers, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and First Lady of Los Angeles Amy Elaine Wakeland, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson, Executive Director of the L.A. Parks Foundation Judith Kieffer and Clippers President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker, as well as Clippers guards Lou Williams and Pat Beverley.
Garcetti began the press conference by sharing his deep admiration of the Ballmers, who have backed several initiatives across Los Angeles since purchasing the Clippers in 2014.
“A couple of years ago, we welcomed two angels to our city,” Garcetti said in reference to the Ballmers. “This gift will transform what this city is about.”
Hundreds of indoor and outdoor parks across the city will receive – among other upgrades – new floors and new asphalt, new hoops and backboards, as well as new scoreboards.
Without contributions from the Ballmers and the Clippers, money given to youth sports programming in L.A. as part of the 2028 Olympics would not make a difference for all areas of the city. So when asked by Mayor Garcetti to help fix some of L.A.’s courts, the Ballmers quickly joined the movement, helping renovate them all.
“Connie and Steve, you did more than chip in,” Garcetti said. “You changed the game.”
Wesson joined Garcetti in thanking the Ballmers and Clippers for their support of the local community.
“It means so much to our children, to the community, and to the parents to have an organization where it’s more important to give back than to just win basketball games,” Wesson said. “It’s not just about winning and losing, but contributing to the community.”
After a short video, which opened with Phillip Wiley of City of L.A. Recreation and Parks sharing how a basketball court saved his life, Garcetti welcomed Steve Ballmer to the stage.
Ballmer referenced his own sports background in discussing the importance of this initiative.
“I played basketball growing up and I stunk,” Ballmer joked. “I may have made one team with a no cut policy back in ninth grade. That was it. But, I spent a lot of time on basketball courts. It was a place to hang with friends and chill out.
“I have an emotional tie to this event today. This is special for me in my heart.”
Williams took the podium as the final speaker of the day, and he spoke of his upbringing in the sport of basketball, commenting that he would spend entire days in his local gym.
“This is an awesome opportunity for local youth,” Williams said. “I’m a product of a community center just like this. My first basketball game was here, in a gym like this.”
This gift will go towards renovating 108 indoor courts and 236 outdoor courts across the city within the next three years.