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Ball Don't Lie

Did Mark Cuban buy the rights to Nets.com to enrage Mikhail Prokhorov? No, but it’s funny to credit him for it

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Nets.com, not what you'd think (Courtesy CyberMesa.com)

The Brooklyn Nets are set to debut this month to great fanfare, in a new (ish) arena, with three max-contract guys on the payroll. Though the time spaced out between the team's move from East Rutherford, N.J., to Newark to Brooklyn at times felt like an eternity, the sheer logistics involved were on a massive scale; logistics that were compounded with a regime change both on the ownership and front office level. It's been a quick and hectic trip between flirting with single-digit wins in New Jersey to thinking championship in Brooklyn, and you can forgive them for their missteps amongst the fanfare.

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Like, perhaps, forgetting to buy the rights to Nets.com. Which Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was credited by more than one website as noticing and purchasing for himself when it became available — even if the registration data proves otherwise. Ananth Pandian tipped us off to Prefix's story about Cuban's rumored hostile takeover. And, if you were wondering what the Russian lettering towards the bottom of the page was for, recall that Cuban has long had a snarkily adversarial back-and-forth with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who bought the team in 2009. Prefix's band of Russian code detectors came through with the translation:

If that's not enough, Cuban mocks Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov in his native Russian at the bottom of the page by referencing his 2007 arrest on suspicion of arranging prostitutes for his guests at one of his trademark parties.

We should note, Prokhorov was cleared in the alleged call girl hubbub, and has since apologized. If the connection seems too good to be true, it's because it might be. Archive.org can't tell us when the images were uploaded to the front of Nets.com, but a quick tour around the Internet kind of shoots Prefix's report all to hell.

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Trey Kerby at The Basketball Jones beat us to the Who Is information, while we were attempting to cobble together an Enes Kanter-sized lunch, and determined that Cuban might just be an unwitting participant in all of this, thus the credit below his picture. From TBJ:

People are saying that Mark Cuban bought Nets.com to mess with his newest rival, but there is absolutely no way that's the case. One, the WhoIs data shows the site to be in the hands of Cyber Mesa Computer Systems, who have owned the site since 1994 and will continue to own it until 2014. Two, the site is in broken English and Russian, which means a) there's no way it was Mark Cuban unless this is a too-clever part of the ruse and b) it was probably a Russian. Three, the reference to "Vilena" is something that's virtually impossible to find on the internet and would therefore have to come from someone who paid attention to the scandal when it was happening (i.e. a Russian). Four, the link on the top right goes to the Russian version of the Nets' website. Just a hunch — this was the work of a Russian who likes making jokes (possibly Andrei Kirilenko).

An unwitting participant, but likely a happily unwitting participant. Cuban likes to stir things up and likely has no problem being handed temporary credit for a swift Internet ruse.

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And though a dot com squatter (be it Cuban with amazing foresight back in 1994, or otherwise) may divert some needed traffic away from the Brooklyn Nets' homepage and ticket/merchandising store, we're pretty sure that Prokhorov is more than content with his besting of Cuban in the pursuit of Deron Williams. Williams, who was rumored to have an interest in joining the Mavericks and playing in his home state, signed a maximum contract deal with the Nets in July. Cuban was forced to lick his wounds with Darren Collison.

On top of, according to Prefix, the rights to Nets.com. He'll take that Internet urban legend in a second, even if it's inaccurate. Even if it means buying up the Snopes.com domain, once that site shoots the rumor down.

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