Excitable former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers last year for $2 billion. In order not to lose his young star center DeAndre Jordan to fellow billionaire Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, Ballmer broke some pesky rules. Salary cap stuff. Even before the successful hazing of Jordan by the owner, coach and sundry teammates, the Clippers met with the disgruntled center and allegedly offered him some third-party endorsement incentives. That’s a no-no, because it means the Clippers are essentially guiding money into Jordan’s pockets without paying it themselves.
That kind of offer circumvents the salary cap rules, of course. Still the Clippers got Jordan to re-sign with them. The NBA somehow magically concluded that the extracurricular offer didn’t influence Jordan’s decision, but the league fined the Clippers for making it anyway. Steve Ballmer had to pay a whopping $250,000 fine. The billionaire found the money in the pocket of a pair of jeans he hadn’t worn for a while. It was money he’d forgotten he had, like that two bucks in your car seat. Think Ballmer wouldn’t do it again, if it helps him hold onto a 26-year-old 7-foot center? It’s called the cost of doing business — and it’s cheap.