New President Gillian Zucker Excited To Be Part Of Clippers’ “Incredible Moment In Time”

Rowan Kavner

LOS ANGELES - It takes someone energetic, passionate and intense to work alongside one of the most energetic, passionate and intense new owners in sports.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer thinks he found that in new president of business operations Gillian Zucker.

“There are a lot of things that can make somebody qualified, but the most important thing is to find someone with enough intensity and enough enthusiasm and enough wisdom to really do this job well at, I think, a very important time for the Clippers,” Ballmer said. “I spent probably time over the last month- plus getting to know Gillian, and she’s an amazing person.

“I’ve gotten the chance to work with a lot of very energetic, very intense, very bright people in my time at Microsoft. Let me just say Gillian compares very favorably to amongst the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever had a chance to work with.”

Zucker’s been involved in a variety of sports in the past, with most of her experience coming in motorsports. She previously spent nine years as president of Auto Club Speedway, the largest race track on the West Coast, but this will be her first experience in the NBA.

“I started my career in hockey, and then I did public relations work for the NFL, then I went into baseball and then motorsports,” Zucker said. “Here I am, the destination, the NBA. I think that having the perspective of a bunch of different sports, and the way that fans sort of embrace their teams is one that is pretty consistent across all of the sports. Why they are passionate and what they are passionate about, that changes a little bit and there are some nuances there.”

Zucker also has served as Daytona International Speedway’s vice president of business and development and worked in Minor League Baseball, serving as assistant general manager of the Durham Bulls in North Carolina.

This new opportunity is one she’s particularly excited about because of the direction of the team.

“It’s an incredible moment in time for the Clippers, it’s an incredible moment in time for Los Angeles, and I thought myself, ‘That’s a job that I would love, and I would love to be a part of it,’” Zucker said.

Along with Jeanie Buss with the Lakers, both Los Angeles professional basketball teams now have a female president. Zucker said she’s humbled to be in a role where she could potentially inspire other young women.

“Here is the way I sort of look at that,” Zucker said, “it is important in that there are young women who are out there in the world that may look at me in this position and say, ‘You know what? I could do something extraordinary. I could dream big. I can do something that is different. I can do anything.’”

Zucker serves on the board of the California Chamber, and her involvement in the community was a big plus for Ballmer, who knew she was the right choice.

“People want to know, they want to see, they want to be inspired by the story of the Clippers,” Ballmer said. “That’s a chance to invigorate our presence in the community, another reason I’m glad Gillian has spent some time in L.A. and is very well connected in the city and the county. I want us to be able to inspire people there.”

Head coach Doc Rivers said he may not be qualified to hire people on the business side, but he’s excited about the decision Ballmer went with and the direction of the team.  

“I just liked her immediately,” Rivers said. “We met I think two or three weeks ago, and I was really impressed with her. I’m very happy that that’s who Steve decided to choose. I think it was a great choice, and I do think it was time and needed for the business side of our organization. We really needed a president in place, and I think that’ll help everyone.”

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