Archive for September, 2009

The Russian Invasion!

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Run!!! The Russians are coming!

Wait… hold up… stop running. Nets fans - we’re about to enter one hell of an entertaining (and most likely, successful) era under the leadership of our new 6′9″ Supreme Commander, Mikhail Prokhorov. “Who?” you ask? Well, a few episodes back, I spoke about the rumblings of an imminent ownership change - the chances of Brucey Ratner disappearing into the sunset. I spoke about the various parties interested in taking control of our beloved team. One of these parties - Mr. Prokhorov (”the bored Russian with six billion dollars to spend”) - I saw as a dream owner, one who could elevate the Nets into the financial stratosphere occupied only by teams like the Knicks, Lakers, and Blazers (they may not have as big a name as the other two, but they’re owned by this guy).

For those of you unaware of exactly who Mikhail Prokhorov is, prepare to be wowed. As you’ve presumably just seen by clicking the link, Paul Allen was ranked in 2008 by Forbes as the 41st richest man in the world. In that same year, Prokhorov was ranked at #24 - with a net worth more than twice that of Allen (Microsoft’s co-founder). Twelve months on, and Prokhorov’s standing has “slipped”. Due to cashing out his stakes in two of Russia’s biggest mining companies and divvying up the prophets with his main business partner, Prokhorov (or the ‘Prokmaster General’ as he’ll henceforth by known around these parts) saw his net worth slip from around $19.5 billion (USD) to $9.5 billion. Of course it goes without saying that a fair chunk of that money could be recouped by more investments, but it seems the Prokmaster General is happy with where he’s at. The avid orgy-loving kickboxer - with a reputation as Russia’s most sought-after bachelor (…lord knows why?) has an equally sizeable reputation for recreational spending, on sports teams specifically. In a couple of short years, he turned CSKA Moscow into the richest non-NBA team in world basketball. He did this by spending as much money as he had to, to secure some of Europe’s biggest stars. Let’s compare this situation to the Ratman’s with the Nets. It’s obvious that Brucey isn’t short of a dollar, but it’s also painfully obvious that he’s not a sports fan. He’s a property developer, and that’s where his financial priorities lie. Always have, always will. He’s on the verge of achieving the main goal he set for himself when buying the Nets in the early part of the naughties - moving the team to Brooklyn as part of a mammoth land development. In his whole tenure with the Nets, Ratner has only committed to a couple of large player contracts (the most notable being VC’s extension).

Reports doing the rounds in NBA media circles right now revolve around the escalated level of the Prokmaster General’s interest in buying into the soon-to-be Brooklyn franchise. It’s not the fleeting interest it was when Pmac and I discussed it a few weeks ago on the show. It’s now genuine interest (as shown in Mikhail’s latest blog entry - hilariously translated into English by the Google translator). Reports are stating that the Prokmaster General has already submitted a $750m (USD) offer to Forest City Ratner (Brucey and his cronies) to buy their 30% controlling stake in the Nets and fund the building of the Barclays Center (note the new design). FCR would still ultimately control the arena as part of their Atlantic Yards development, but it’d have no further involvement with the Nets. In order for any change in ownership to be approved by the NBA, 23 of the 29 other opposition team owners would have to give their approval. At this point, no objections seem to be forthcoming. The NBA front-office (Stern and Jackson) would presumably look past the Prokmaster General’s hooker fetish in light of his bank balance. The bottom line is that more money would be coming into the NBA, and in today’s economic shit-storm, isn’t that all that really counts?

In terms of Prokhorov’s vision for the Nets… read his blog. It’s a hilarious read for us non-Americans, but for those of you living stateside, I sense an impending INVASION! Essentially, the Prokmaster General has given me the impression that he wants a Barclays Center-based chapter of the Russian Imperial Forces but considering the direction in which the Nets have been taken by Brucey Ratner over the last few years, I have no problem with it whatsoever.

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