Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov Fueling Rivalry with Knicks
New York, NY
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has started fueling the fire of rivalry between his Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks.
In a New York Magazine story, Prokhorov described Knicks owner James Dolan as "that little man". The Nets owner is 6-8 while Dolan is just 5-6.
"Prokhorov told me back in December that he plans on attending a quarter of the regular-season games and 'all the playoff ones.' He also made sure that I heard him call Dolan 'that little man,'" writes the article's author, Will Leitch.
"The Nets frequently note that a minimum of 2,000 seats a game will cost $15 or less, at least for the first season (in the Barclays Center). Still, it's clear that the Nets did not move to Brooklyn to be Pepsi to Jim Dolan's Coke: They want to be Veuve Clicquot," Leitch added.
When he purchased the Nets in 2010, Prokhorov tried to start a rivalry with the Knicks by claiming that "we will turn Knicks fans into Nets fans."
The Nets also erected a billboard right across Madison Square Garden, with Prokhorov and minority owner rapper Jay-Z below "the blueprint for greatness."
"That billboard is the anchor to an aggressive marketing platform for key transit hubs from Manhattan to Newark," Nets CEO Brett Yormark said. "It's a pretty aggressive campaign around free agency. It's one of the biggest advertising spaces in the city. What better place to make a statement?"
The Knicks and Nets also actively pursued forward Carmelo Anthony, with the former ultimately acquiring the Nuggets' superstar at the 2011 trade deadline. The Nets responded with their own blockbuster by dealing for All-Star point guard Deron Williams.
This year, the rivalry was renewed as the Knicks and Nets play in New York together for the first time this season. To add more hype to the feud the two will meet on Nov. 1 at the Nets' brand-new Barclays Center.
Newly acquired guard Joe Johnson also joined the fray, declaring that the Nets were the best team in New York City, a declaration that met the ire of Knicks center Tyson Chandler.
"I heard a little bit, but I think it's foolish," Chandler said. "The Nets are just coming together, and I think it's pointless for them to talk to us about anything. First they need to establish themselves. It's a lot of talk, almost the same thing as us playing against the Dream Team -- it can't happen right now. I will let it speak for itself the first time we play them."
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