Column

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer says Blake Griffin will face some consequences

Frank McCourt had a psychic on his payroll while driving the Dodgers into bankruptcy. Stan Kasten and his Chicago-based financiers agreed to a broadcasting deal that removed Vin Scully from most of our television sets. Arte Moreno signed a recovering drug addict before coming to the shocking realization that addicts are prone to relapse.

So it would be only a matter of time before Steve Ballmer did something to indicate he was as out of touch as these other team owners, right?

Maybe not.

In his first interview since Blake Griffin punched out the team's assistant equipment manager, the Clippers owner sounded as if he was prepared to discipline his All-Star forward.

Asked Wednesday night if he felt it necessary for the Clippers to take the kind of action that would represent what they stand for, Ballmer didn't hesitate.

"There needs to be consequences," he said. "It's the right thing to do."

Citing a team investigation into the incident that resulted in a broken right hand for Griffin, Ballmer didn't offer any details, so it's not known whether the Clippers might add to whatever punishment the Kia pitchman receives from the NBA. Still, Ballmer made it clear that employee-on-employee violence would not be tolerated.

If his actions back his words, good for him.

It shouldn't be surprising when the owner of a professional sports team says or does something sensible, but it is. Too much exposure to the Dodgers. Remember, in the wake of Manny Ramirez's drug suspension in 2009, McCourt said he would like to see the disgraced outfielder play in baseball's All-Star game.

"It'd be a great honor," McCourt said at the time.

Ballmer was measured when speaking of Griffin, condemning the player's actions without tossing him under the proverbial bus.

"Just remember, Blake is a key part of his team," Ballmer said.

At this moment, the courtside goofball in Ballmer emerged, as he extended his arms to mimic an embrace.

"We will welcome him back," he said with a smile as broad as his shoulders.

This is something of a new experience for Ballmer. As the chief executive of Microsoft, he said there were times when key employees under-performed as a result of doing something stupid. However, he conceded, "We didn't ever have a situation quite like this."

Ballmer continued, "You know, everyone's going to heal, and we're going to have an opportunity to move forward. We're going to finish our investigation, decide what needs to happen and move forward. Blake's a key part of our team. There's no question about that.

"He certainly has been remorseful, which is great, and we'll find a way to move past it. That's part of life. An important part of life is learning how to have consequences."

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Trade speculation involving Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier is making the rounds again, this time with the Chicago White Sox mentioned in multiple reports as a potential suitor.

If you're inclined to dismiss the possibility of Ethier being traded — after all, he has been rumored for the last decade to be on the move — don't be.

On April 21, Ethier will become a 10-and-5 player — that is, he will have 10 years of major league service time, including the last five with the same team. With that designation comes the right to veto any trade.

It's hard to imagine this Dodgers front office will let that happen. This is the same group that declined to offer Zack Greinke more than a five-year contract and agreed to pay a significant portion of Matt Kemp's future earnings to play for a division rival. If they were willing to do that in the name of future roster flexibility, it makes sense they would do whatever necessary to move the soon-to-be-34-year-old Ethier, who is owed $38 million over the next two seasons.

Ethier already received the kiss of death recently when General Manager Farhan Zaidi said the Dodgers wouldn't trade the two-time All-Star for the sake of preventing him from attaining his 10-and-5 rights.

Zaidi said about a year ago that the Dodgers weren't shopping Dee Gordon.

The Dodgers traded Gordon the very next day.

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Is it just me or have our Dodgers stories read better in the last week or two? Do we have a new beat writer or something?

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It's really a shame Amir Khan doesn't have a chin. Then again, if he did, Canelo Alvarez wouldn't be scheduled to fight him on May 7.

Khan's quickness could present some stylistic problems for the cement-footed Alvarez, who lumbers around the ring with the grace and swiftness of Frankenstein.

But Khan has somehow never learned to move his head, which is problematic because he can't take a punch.

This flaw figures to be magnified against the significantly larger Alvarez, who will be defending his middleweight championship at a catch weight of 155 pounds.

Khan has weighed in at 140 or fewer pounds in 30 of his 34 fights. The most Khan has ever weighed in for a bout is 147 pounds.

Khan has a strong following in his native England, and promoters will point to his popularity in an attempt to convince us this is a major event.

It's not.

It's a tune-up fight for Alvarez and it shouldn't be considered anything else.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on February 05, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Ballmer strikes a firm note - Clippers owner says of the Griffin situation that `there need to be consequences.' - ANALYSIS" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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