Steve Ballmer says he doesn't have huge changes planned for the Los Angeles Clippers, his newly acquired pro basketball team, but he does want them to quit using Apple products.
"Most of the Clippers are on Windows, some of the players and coaches are not," the former Microsoft CEO told Reuters, without naming names.
Although he stepped down as Microsoft's chief exec in February and retired from its board of directors in August, Ballmer remains the quintessential company man. He reportedly doesn't allow his own family to use iPhones or iPads and he told Clippers coach Doc Rivers that he doesn't want his team using them, either.
"And Doc kind of knows that's a project," shy and retiring Ballmer said. "It's one of the first things he said to me: 'We are probably going to get rid of these iPads, aren't we?' And I said, 'Yeah, we probably are'."
Ballmer bought the Clippers in May for $2bn – about two Instagrams' worth – after the team's previous owner, Donald Sterling, was banned from the National Basketball Association for making racist remarks.
But although basketball has his full attention now that he has ended his 34 years at Microsoft – including 14 years as CEO – Ballmer isn't planning any huge shakeup of the Clippers organization. He has already signed Rivers on as coach for another five years, for example.
And yet, while he no longer has any active role in Redmond, Ballmer remains Microsoft's largest individual shareholder, with a stake worth $15.3bn at Thursday's share price. That might explain his apparent obsession with having his players and coaches switch from iOS to Windows.
"But I promised we would do it during the off season," Ballmer told Reuters.
Not that having the Clippers use Microsoft fondleslabs will necessarily give the company the publicity it craves. In 2013, Redmond inked a $400m, five-year deal with the National Football League that included making Surface tablets the only devices allowed on game sidelines and in coaches' booths. TV commentators routinely refer to them as "iPads." ®