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Clippers’ hiring of Gillian Zucker praised by Coach Doc Rivers

Gillian Zucker, the Clippers' president of business operations, speaks during a news conference at Staples Center on Nov. 8, 2014.

Gillian Zucker, the Clippers’ president of business operations, speaks during a news conference at Staples Center on Nov. 8, 2014.

(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said that he was very pleased that owner Steve Ballmer hired Gillian Zucker to be the team’s president of business operations.

Rivers said he had a limited role in the hiring process, but had complete trust Ballmer would make the right call.

“If a guy can figure out a way of making $24 billion, I got a feeling he can figure out a way of running the L.A. Clippers,” Rivers said of Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive.

Rivers said he met Zucker three weeks ago and immediately had a good impression of her.

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“I like her, I like her a lot,” Rivers said. “Any lady that’s had to deal with NASCAR, especially the way they’re fighting, any of that stuff is pretty cool.”

Rivers is also pleased that he will no longer be a go-to guy for business decisions, which was a role he was thrust into after the Donald Sterling fiasco. Andy Roeser used to hold the position, but he was forced out by the NBA after he released a statement in support of Sterling.

“It’s just needed,” Rivers said of having a president in place. “It makes your organization run smoothly and they have someone to go to when they have an issue .... Before that I would get a couple of calls: ‘Can you talk to someone or can you do this?’ Now I don’t have to any of that anymore and that for me is really nice.”

Zucker is the only female chief executive or president in major U.S. professional sports besides the Lakers’ Jeanie Buss. She spent the last nine years as president of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, the largest racetrack on the West Coast. Zucker was named one of the five most powerful women in motorsports by MSN and Fox.

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She hasn’t had any NBA experience, although Rivers said he doesn’t foresee that being a problem.

“There’s so many of us that haven’t had that experience when we started something,” Rivers said. “I mean I didn’t have any coaching experience, I guess I had NBA experience. I don’t know the answer. I know that there have been a lot of successful people in all walks of life that have changed jobs and changed fields and then brought their expertise and made that company better. I think she’ll be one of those.”


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