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James Dolan associate mocks Clippers' owner in attempt to draw Lakers to Inglewood


While trying to draw the Lakers into an arena owned by the MSG Company in L.A., James Dolan’s close associate Irving Azoff mocked the Clippers and their owner Steve Ballmer in a series of emails.

Azoff, the CEO of MSG Entertainment, wrote to Jeanie Buss that it’s “my dream” to have the Lakers relocate to The Forum in Inglewood when their lease with the Staples Center expires in 2025. Buss was receptive, but turned nasty when discussing Ballmer’s plan to build a new arena in Inglewood.

She even unveiled her nickname for Ballmer — “Ballz.”

“Didn’t Ballz see what we did to my brother??” Buss wrote to Azoff, referencing her brother, Jim, who she fired as Lakers VP of Basketball Operations after calling him ‘completely unfit.’

“(Ballmer) will have nothing but Clippers basketball. Whoopee.”

Azoff then called a potential Clippers arena “A Ghost Town!”

The emails from 2017, obtained by the L.A. Times, are among documents produced during discovery in MSG’s lawsuit against Inglewood over the building of a potential new Clippers arena. The Lakers and Clippers currently share the Staples Center but Ballmer’s team — despite being much better over the last five years – is the arena’s second-class citizen.

Dolan’s interest is in preventing Ballmer from creating a venue that would compete with his Forum, which he purchased in 2012 and invested over $100 million to transform into a live entertainment destination. His lawsuit against Inglewood is based on an argument that Mayor James T. Butts Jr. cleared a way for Ballmer’s arena by tricking the MSG Company into terminating its lease to use city-owned land for parking.

James Dolan is frustrated with the mayor of Inglewood, Ca. (MARK LENNIHAN / AP)

Azoff wrote in one email to Buss that Dolan “loves the idea” of the Lakers moving to The Forum. However, the partnership probably won’t happen as, according to the L.A. Times, the Lakers pivoted and are discussing an extension with AEG to their Staples Center lease.

“MSG approached the Lakers about the possibility of returning to the Forum following the end of our Lease at Staples Center in 2025, but nothing came from the discussions,” the Lakers said in a statement to the L.A. Times.

Interestingly, the Lakers, Knicks and Clippers are all among the teams with enough cap space to sign at least one max free agent this summer. It figures to be a compelling battle between those teams for the services of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Kemba Walker, among others.