January 21, 2011
In both the socialist and democratic Russian governments, dirty tricks and outright corruption have long been the order of the day. You wouldn't think it would eventually find its way to an otherwise innocuous NBA game program, but such is the influence, apparently.
Last fall, the Mikhail Prokhorov-owned New Jersey Nets played the Houston Rockets in Beijing and Guangzhou, China. Before touching down in China, however, the team decided to stop off in Moscow for a photo shoot.
[Rewind: Egyptian paper doctors photo of Obama]
In front of the stunning St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, the team (decked out in Nets gear) posed for a photo that would eventually grace the cover of the program handed out before Wednesday night's Nets game against the Utah Jazz. One that, with both Prokhorov and fellow Russian and Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko(notes) in town, took place on Russian Heritage night in the Nets' Newark arena.
The problem with the program is that the players listed in the program for Wednesday's game weren't all together for the picture on the program. This bothered the Nets, so they programmed the picture on the program to delete a few former Nets (Terrence Williams(notes), Brian Zoubek(notes), Joe Smith(notes)) from the Russian setting.
The problem here is that they didn't stop there.
[Read more: How ghostly images were altered before Photoshop]
The team, cynically, added guard Sasha Vujacic(notes) to the cobblestone steps in front of St. Basil's Cathedral. Vujacic (first row, sixth from the left ... kind of) is a Serbian-born guard who was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to New Jersey last month, and most crucial to the Nets, he is married to Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. This is important enough to the Nets that they pasted Vujacic's head on Williams' body, even though Vujacic was in Barcelona at the time the picture was taken, as the Lakers readied themselves for a preseason game in Spain.
I was told that if you try and unfocus your eyes, and look directly through the program photo, you could see Yakov Smirnoff's smiling image, but I've been unsuccessful so far.
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