Early in the 2012-13 season, with his year and a half victory tour about to commence, David Stern reportedly went out of his way to make sure the two team owners in his league’s biggest metropolis didn’t ruin his final run by acting like churlish, bickering brats. This is why, according to Fred Kerber of the New York Post, Stern sat down New York Knicks owner James Dolan and Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov in order establish a more tactful line of dialogue between two of the league’s most infamous owners.
Or, perhaps most importantly, two of the league’s most free-spending owners.
“There was such a meeting and the parties both said it was a very cordial and pleasant one,” said one league official with knowledge of the sit-down, which happened early in the season.
Another person with direct knowledge of the sit-down called it “cordial and friendly.”
Spokespersons both for Prokhorov and for the Knicks said “no comment” regarding the meeting.
If you’ll recall, Mikhail Prokhorov was the first to send a dig or two Manhattan’s way, nearly two and a half years before the Brooklyn Nets even played a game. From Kerber:
One July morning in 2010, Knicks Nation awoke to a Godzilla-sized rendition of Prokhorov and then team advisor and minority share owner Jay-Z plastered on the side of a building near Madison Square Garden proclaiming a “Blueprint for Greatness” as the Nets readied their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.
According to several sources, Dolan was furious about the 22-story, 21,375 square-foot billboard and called league officials to complain, a tactic he repeated last year after Prokhorov referred to him as “that little man” in a New York Magazine article.
Enough, said the league. Is this any way for the two New York teams, who plan to share the 2015 All-Star Game, to act? So the league wanted the two men in the same room in an attempt to squash any lingering animosity and to prevent additional hostility. Enter Stern.
You’ll have to look real hard to find an NBA fan – Knick fans included – that doesn’t enjoy Prokhorov needling James Dolan. Dolan was gifted the MSG and Cablevision empire from his father, and his reign as chief decision-maker has been a fitful one to say the least. Some may be dubious about certain influences that have led to Prokhorov earning his billions, but he did start from the bottom and work his way up.
And now, as the Nets enter their second season, both stand to lord over two franchises that hope to combine for 110 wins, while working with player payrolls that will combine to top $300 million in 2013-14.
(And both teams are expected to be eclipsed in the standings by an Indiana Pacers team that is run by a Brooklyn native, a squad that will fall short of paying the luxury tax this year.)
Stern’s plea for a détente seemed to work. Though Nets and Knicks players continue to go at it in the press, the two teams played a remarkably entertaining four-game regular season series last year that was littered with close games, with no real sniping taking place between the two corporate suites.
When Stern steps down, this February? Yeah, the gloves might come off again. And Prokhorov has Dolan beat when it comes to reach. Amongst other qualities.