Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Thus far, free-agency recruiting pitches have been mostly benevolent affairs. Whether it be from teams or fans, the people trying to lure their favorite basketball players to their favorite basketball teams have been content to say how great their city is, rather than bashing other teams. It's been kind of sweet, actually. Surely that would have to change sooner or later.

Naturally, the first sign of conflict will center around the New York Knicks and brash owner of the New Jersey Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov. In a bold and hilarious move, the Nets have purchased ad space for an enormous mural right by Madison Square Garden, home of that one team that desperately wants to sign a few free agents. As you can imagine, the Knicks aren't too happy to see gigantic versions of Prokhorov, Jay-Z and the Nets logo on their home turf. From the Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:

The Nets are serious contenders for James - far outdistancing the neighboring New York Knicks who awoke to a 225-by-95-foot mural of Prokhorov and Jay-Z outside Jim Dolan's office window at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have already called the league office, grumbling about its arrival.

Pretty awesome plan by the Nets, I'd say. Putting a gigantic billboard right next to your competition is something straight out of a movie. Also awesome is the Nets' reaction to the Knicks getting mad. From the New York Daily News' Julian Garcia:

"When we went to our ad agency and said, 'Give us some available billboards,' they came to us with this location. Obviously we felt it was a bold statement but we decided to go for it," said Yormark, one of at least five recruiters, including Prokhorov and Jay-Z, expected to make a pitch to James in Thursday morning's wee hours. "If (the Knicks are) upset, they're upset, but I can't suspect they really are. They don't think about us."

[More on the Nets' plan to make LeBron a billionaire]

Yes, that's certainly a "bold statement," and I love that whoever was tasked with getting billboards went straight for Madison Square Garden. Well played, but don't be so hard on yourselves, Netsers, the Knicks should be worried about you. And according to Wojnarowski, they are.

Knicks owner Jim Dolan was so angry over a bigger-than-life 227-foot billboard of Nets owners Jay-Z and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov on the Eighth Avenue side of the Garden that sources say Dolan called Jay-Z and declared the mural was "intimidating to his employees."

So funny. Both the fact that the billboard was intimidating and that Jim Dolan called Jay-Z to address it. I guess if you want things changed you have to go to the guy who owns all of 1 percent of the team. He surely is in charge of advertising. Way to not freak out, Jim.

[Photos: International superstar Jay-Z performing]

Let's just hope the Nets' "blueprint" is a reference to the first Jay-Z album of the same name, and definitely not the most recent one because that would just mean they're a slightly behind-the-times mess of ideas. But I guess that kind of makes sense now that I think about it.

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