September 21, 2012

Brooklyn Nets, 2003-2012: What a long, strange trip it’s been

Meadowlands Matters [NorthJersey.com]
by John Brennan

The $1 billion Barclays Center has its grand opening today – a mere nine years after New York real estate developer Bruce Ratner invited us media types to Junior’s in Brooklyn for some cheesecake and chatter about his desire to move the Nets to Brooklyn. Ratner mischievously donned the fedora of Brooklyn basketball legend World B. Free that day, and he seemed convinced he would pull off the plan without too many headaches.

He was right about pulling off the plan – but oh, were there headaches. Here are some highs and lows I’ve taken from my coverage of this idea from Day One....

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Posted by eric at 2:23 PM

July 30, 2012

Deron Williams counting a strong fan base when Brooklyn Nets host NY Knicks in NBA season opener

'When we come to the Garden there are going to be Nets fans there,' the Nets’ point guard said on Friday. 'So it's going to be different.'

NY Daily News
by Frank Isola

Since it'll be their brand new, hyper-hyped home court, one would hope so.

Deron Williams is okay if Knicks fans invade Brooklyn for the season opener for both teams on Nov. 1 for one simple reason.

“When we come to the Garden there are going to be Nets fans there,” the Nets’ point guard said on Friday. "So it's going to be different."

A Knicks-Nets game in New Jersey was essentially a home game for the Knicks considering how many of their supporters filled both the Meadowlands and most recently the Rock in Newark.

In November, the Nets will christen the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn with a game against their biggest rival and they're counting on a strong local fan base.

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Related content...

SLAM Online, Marv Albert Promotes New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets Season-Opener

And they're apparently counting on Marv Albert to fan the hype, too.

By now you know that the Knicks and Nets will face each other for the first NBA game in Brooklyn’s history (November 1st at 7pm), and none other than Marv Albert has a breathless promotion of the tilt already cued up. You can listen to the audio of the legendary broadcaster on the Nets’ team website, or read the transcript via the NY Daily News....

Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

April 28, 2012

Brand identity: filling the empty vessel of the Brooklyn Nets "sports entertainment corporation" with new logo and colors

Atlantic Yards Report

The Brooklyn Nets are set to unveil their new logo and colors at 10 am Monday, according to the Star-Ledger.

The location?

Ironically enough, the Modell's Sporting Goods store opposite the Barclays Center arena and Atlantic Terminal mall, on a plot of land known as Site 5 that is destined to be part of the Atlantic Yards project, housing a 25-story building that would displace Modell's and its neighbor, P.C. Richard.

That logo would fill the shield outlined in the #HelloBrooklyn campaign that began earlier in the week.

And as Deadspin and later Gothamist reported, the logo has leaked, emphasizing the name "Nets" with a "B" superimposed over a basketball.

It's a big deal in this Sports world, this big reveal, and big deal in Brooklyn. People are buying #HelloBrooklyn merch, and surely Nets caps and t-shirts will begin selling, to Brooklynites and wannabes, especially when pushed by trend-setters like Jay-Z. (What, principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov won't be modeling the merch?)

One snarky comment, on the Daily Beast:

Looks like some lazy designer said "Y'know who had a great logo? The Brooklyn Dodgers. Y'know who had a great color scheme? The Raiders."

By contrast, BigLeadSports, which supplied the photos below, called it "gorgeous."

Blind brand loyalty?

But what does it mean to support a hometown team when you don't even know what the team will be? Are people just "rooting for the clothes," as Jerry Seinfeld said?

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Posted by steve at 5:41 PM

April 27, 2012

Nets ended New Jersey era with 98-67 loss at Toronto Raptors

AP via NJ.com

Can you feel the excitement, Brooklyn?!!!

Ben Uzoh had 12 points, a career-high 12 assists and 11 rebounds for his first career triple-double, and the Toronto Raptors routed New Jersey 98-67 in Thursday night's season finale, a loss that slightly improves the Nets' chances in the NBA draft lottery.
...

Anthony Morrow and Armon Johnson each had 11 points, and Gerald Green and Jordan Williams added 10 apiece as the Nets lost their fifth straight and set a season low for points. The defeat ensured the Nets will finish last in the Atlantic division, one game behind Toronto.

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Posted by eric at 12:57 PM

April 24, 2012

The Nets Move

NY Daily News
by Bramhall

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Related coverage...

NY Daily News, Nets bidding so long to New Jersey

For 35 years, a squad of hapless hoopsters called the Nets generally made a hash of professional ball, with a slew of losing seasons and lackluster “stars.” But since this took place in New Jersey, only seven people noticed.

That will be much harder when the Nets move to Brooklyn next season: No more stinking it up on a nightly basis — not with part owner Jay-Z in courtside seats and New York’s entire attention on the newest kid on a block occupied by standard-setters like the Yankees.

Posted by eric at 11:16 PM

The Final Buzzer for the New Jersey Nets

Uncle Mike's Musing

New Jersey Nets, born October 21, 1977, died April 23, 2012. Age 34.

Time of death, 9:55 PM. Cause of death: Murder, stabbed in the back by Bruce Ratner. Wound mortal, but death took 8 years.
...

Requiescat in pace.

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Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

76ers clinch playoff berth with win over Nets in final game in New Jersey

The Star-Ledger
by Colin Stephenson

The Nets ended the New Jersey years true to form.

The Sixers clinched a playoff berth with their 105-87 victory tonight, but the Nets fans did rise in the final 20 or so seconds and offer a standing ovation to the Nets.
...

The Nets (22-43) lost their fifth straight game — they haven’t won since beating the Sixers, against whom they were 2-2 this season, in Philadelphia April 13. They have one game remaining in the season, on Thursday in Toronto against the Raptors.

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NoLandGrab: But they'll be much better in Brooklyn, right?

Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie not happy NJ Nets playing final game in Newark or move to Brooklyn

Governor won't attend final game, says: 'If you don’t want to stay, we don’t want you.'

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

As the Nets were preparing their farewell, the Governor of New Jersey was kicking them out the door.

Speaking after signing a bill in Newark, Gov. Chris Christie, a Newark native and Republican, was in typical unabashed form when asked about the Nets.

“I’m not going to the Nets game tonight and my message to the Nets is ‘Goodbye,’ ” Christie said. “If you don’t want to stay, we don’t want you. Seriously, I’m not going to be in the business of begging people to stay here. That’s one of the most beautiful arenas in America that they’ve had a chance to play in. It’s in one of the country’s most vibrant cities.

“They want to leave here and go to Brooklyn? Good riddance. See you later.”

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Posted by eric at 11:35 AM

April 23, 2012

No discounts for loyalty: in move to Brooklyn, the cost of tickets for the Nets rises two to four times (in some cases)

Atlantic Yards Report

New Jersey Nets fans, thanks for your 35 years of loyal support — and don't let the door hit your a***s on the way out.

Tonight is the Nets' last game in New Jersey, and amid the numerous articles that recount the highs and lows of the era, there are a few nuggets. From the Times:

Mr. [Paul] Zarrillo, who spent two years on the Fan Advisory Board, said his season tickets went from $29 a game to $115 in Brooklyn. Another fan said he decided not to renew his season tickets after the price spiked from $1,600 for a 21-game package in Newark to $10,000 for a 41-game package in Brooklyn. No discounts for loyalty. Or for gas and tolls.

From the Star-Ledger:

Alfonso Cottle of Somerset said that over the last two seasons, he and his brother, Christopher, had spent roughly $2,500 on a half-season ticket plan. He said the same arrangement would cost them about $10,000 in Brooklyn

If, as Bruce Ratner said last year, the Barclays Center is "largely about the children and youth of Brooklyn," then why is the arena larded with sponsorships, full of luxury suites, and the ticket prices so high?

It's a business, man.

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Related coverage...

Uncle Mike's Musings, Top 10 Reasons the New Jersey Nets Are Dying Tonight

Surprise! Bruce Ratner is not #1 (he's #2).

The New York Times, Mixed Feelings for Fans as Nets Prepare to Leave

The Star-Ledger, For Nets' fans, Brooklyn seems so near and yet so far away

NY Post, Few tears as Nets bounce Jersey

CBS New York, Jayson Williams Reportedly Not Invited To Nets’ Last Game In NJ

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

April 22, 2012

Why did the Nets fail to take hold in New Jersey? A host of reasons, including a late move to the 'burbs (and maybe one more: the media landscape)

Atlantic Yards Report

An interesting article in The Record today, headlined Game over for N.J. Nets, but who'll miss them?, explores why the New Jersey Nets never quite took hold in New Jersey. An excerpt:

“People in New Jersey didn’t identify the Nets with New Jersey,” said [former Nets president Jon] Spoelstra, now a sports-marketing consultant. “It’s not like San Antonio, Utah, or Sacramento. I think those fans have gotten really wrapped up in their teams to where they become part of their lifestyle.”
[Michael] Rowe, a former New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority official who succeeded Spoelstra in 1995, said the location of the team’s Meadowlands base also played a role.
“The Nets were one of the last teams to move to arenas that were out in the suburbs,” said Rowe, president of the Cranbury-based sports management firm Positive Impact. “Eventually, arenas started moving back downtown because it was found that the after-work crowd, the steak-and-beer business communities, the mass-transit people, would support a team. And you didn’t have that here, so the Nets didn’t seem to get adopted by enough people in their home market. New Jersey has more than 500 medium and small towns, to where there was never a town even big enough to host a parade.”
Both also pointed to the large shadow cast by the New York Knicks, just across the river.

The article also references the lack of a consistently good team.

The authors miss one significant reason, I believe: the suburban nature of the Meadowlands arena--the home during most years in New Jersey, until the interim move to Newark--and the suburban nature of the state means that there was relatively little coverage from the New York City media.

With New York City television stations covering the Brooklyn Nets, as well as the sports-heavy tabloids New York Post and and New York Daily News, the relocated team will reap much free publicity.

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Posted by steve at 5:52 PM

April 21, 2012

NY Knicks fans take over Prudential Center leaving NJ Nets at home-court disadvantage

Nets CEO Brett Yormark vows that crowds will support Nets once team moves to Brooklyn

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

Mikhail Prokhorov once said he’d turn Knicks fans into Nets fans. It’s safe to say none of the thousands were swayed Wednesday night in Newark.

The New Jersey Nets met the Knicks for the last time in front of a crowd similar to those of their previous 166 matchups: heavy on the Knicks fans.

Blue jerseys flooded the Prudential Center an hour before tipoff. The fans cheered wildly for the road team, chanting “MVP” for Carmelo Anthony when he was at the foul line. They booed the home team, especially Kris Humphries, and jeered Gerald Wallace when he stepped to the line.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Reporot, The Brooklyn move, the brand, and Yormark's talk of the home court advantage

But Yormark is just Yormarketing when he says, "And wearing Brooklyn on our jerseys is going to mean a lot to everybody in that borough."

Not if you keep sacrificing part of the community, as shown on Atlantic Yards Watch.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

April 19, 2012

Knicks Say Goodbye to New Jersey

The New York Times
by Howard Beck

The Knicks packed their jerseys and their high-tops, boarded a bus and crossed the Hudson River one final time Wednesday night, not to pay their last respects to the Nets of New Jersey, but to bury them, without sentiment or sympathy.

In the semi-historic final meeting between teams labeled as “New Jersey” and “New York,” the Knicks did not even permit their putative rivals the courtesy of a home-court advantage.

The cheers, the chants and most of the points belonged to the Knicks, in a 104-95 victory that was never close or compelling. The Knicks sped to an early 21-point lead, survived a sloppy second half and rode Carmelo Anthony’s 33 points to the final buzzer.

And with that, an era of sorts came to an uninspiring end. The Knicks will not play another game in the Garden State. The Nets, after 35 years in New Jersey, are heading to Brooklyn next fall, where they will play in the new Barclays Center.

The Nets can only hope that a more supportive crowd awaits them across the East River.

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Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

April 16, 2012

IS THE NBA DRAFT LOTTERY RIGGED???

ProSportsBlogging
by Mark Cook

Charles Barkley seems to think that the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged & I personally agree with his assessment. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that this event is clearly “staged” to help the WORST team get a boost from the league. Still, the most interesting thing Chuck said was that he believes the Nets will benefit from the “rigging” this June.
...

Brooklyn is desperate to add a “young star” to attract fans to the Barclays Center. Earning the 1st pick would be a major step in that direction. It would make perfect sense to have Anthony Davis playing in the Big City. Davis could quickly form a lethal inside/outside tandem with Marshon Brooks. The success of the Nets in Brooklyn is very important to the league, so why not think it’s possible for the ping-pong balls to bounce the right way for us.

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NoLandGrab: Everything about the deal that got the Nets new Brooklyn arena built was totally rigged, so why wouldn't the NBA follow suit?

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

April 11, 2012

Mikhail Prokhorov, like the Nets, is a work in progress

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

The Star-Ledger's sports columnist throws some cold vodka on the Prokhorov myth.

As everyone knows, there’s no better substitute for substantive dialogue than a photo op and some glib remarks while standing in front of a construction site.

So in keeping with this tradition, Mikhail Prokhorov faced the media inside a dusty Barclays Center in Brooklyn Tuesday, and answered questions for the first time in 14 months.
...

But glib is what Prokhorov does well, yet if you’re looking for something substantial, keep looking. He never gives the impression that he is in control of the Nets franchise, as even his clichés — “It is easy to have a playoff team, but it is very difficult to have a championship team, so we need to be very patient and go step by step” — are diametrically opposed to what his GM practices.

So it occurs to you: Prokhorov can’t speak of the future because he knows very little about the present. He threw some names out there (Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks) to signify that he’s been paying attention, but overall, he still sounds less engaged than the average towel boy.

It’s time to admit the obvious: We’re talking about an absentee owner here, as this guy never really had any intention of doing much more than writing checks.

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Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

Owner Says the Nets and a New Arena Remain Hard-Hat Zones

The New York Times
by Richard Sandomir

Jim Dolan must wish he had Mikhail Prokhorov's PR people.

Mikhail D. Prokhorov said he could not discuss contract talks with Deron Williams.

“For the time being, it’s top secret,” Prokhorov, the Nets’ majority owner, said Tuesday during a news conference inside the unfinished Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Why the omertà about the point guard so essential to the team’s future?

“N.B.A. rules prohibit me from comment on a potential contract,” he said. “Please wait for summer.”

When reminded by a reporter that he is not prohibited from discussing his own free agent, he quickly shed his self-imposed gag order.

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Related coverage...

NY Post, Nets owner mentions 'kickboxing' Mavericks over Deron

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has a message for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: Pursue Deron Williams at your own risk.

“Let the best man win,” the Russian billionaire said with a smile inside the shell of the Nets’ future home, the Barclays Center, during Tuesday’s press conference in Brooklyn. “If he wins, I’ll crush him in a kickboxing throwdown.”

CBS New York, Prokhorov Coy On ‘Top Secret’ Williams Situation, Asks Nets Fans For Patience

Hang Time Blog, NETS’ BROOKLYN DREAM IS A REALITY

The Brooklyn Paper, Prokhorov isn’t looking for a Brooklyn pied-a-terre

Posted by eric at 1:12 PM

April 9, 2012

Jersey Fans Ready to Divorce Nets

Though They Tried to Make It Work, It's Time to Go Their Separate Ways

The Wall Street Journal
by Scott Cacciola

Wait, what? We thought they were all supposed to buy season tickets in Brooklyn.

Frank Capece attended his first Nets game 33 years ago when his dentist gave him a pair of tickets as a wedding gift. Apparently his dentist hadn't made him suffer enough.

The twist is that Capece, an attorney from Cranford, N.J., got hooked—hooked on a team of "lovable losers." He invested in courtside season tickets. He screamed at officials. He called opposing players "clowns." He said he missed just four home games over the next 20 years: two because of sickness, one because his daughter was graduating from college and one because he was invited to attend an event at the Clinton White House. "That was a tough choice," he said.

For Nets fans who live in New Jersey, the official end for their local team will come in three weeks, when the Nets play their final game in Newark. Then the team will depart for Brooklyn and its glitzy new home at Barclays Center. But many die-hard fans like Capece said goodbye long ago.
...

Capece also struggled with the notion that he would essentially be paying $80,000 to help the Nets move to Brooklyn.

"That seemed stupid to me," he said. "Besides, my wife wanted a new kitchen."

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Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

HELLO, BROOKLYN NETS!!!!!!!!

Pro Sports Blogging
by Mark Cook

This cheerleading fan post ends with a dose of cold reality...

So, I ask that Brooklyn fans be patient and support our newest neighbors. It may be a rough beginning for our Basketball team, but New Yorkers know that nothing comes easy for us. Winning in the NBA is no different than it is on the streets that house the Barclays Center.

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NoLandGrab: And since the State of New York can't hand over wins the way it handed over "the streets that house the Barclays Center" (and which used to house houses in which people lived), it may indeed be a rough beginning — and then some.

Posted by eric at 10:38 AM

April 6, 2012

Brook Lopez Should Try To Return

From Russia With Dunk
by Raphael Astrow

"From Russia With Dunk?"

We all know that the Nets need to give off a lot of good impressions, perhaps deceptively so, as the season winds down and they relocate to Brooklyn. Firstly, they need to convince fans that the Nets are worth watching.

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NoLandGrab: Best of luck. On the plus side, deception is what you guys do best.

Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

April 3, 2012

Barclays Center promotional round-up: Daily News, NY1, Channel 13

Atlantic Yards Report

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... Oops, having a hard time staying awake, what with all the Netsanity.

The New York Daily News, home to the most embarrassing editorial backing Atlantic Yards, and the most embarrassing "news" coverage (via their "real estate correspondent), now has another reason to offer editorial support of the Barclays Center arena: the Daily News Golden Gloves, the newspaper-sponsored boxing tournament, is moving its two-day finals to the Brooklyn venue:

“The Daily News is excited to announce that the iconic Golden Gloves finals will take place at the new Barclays Center in 2013, beginning an exciting new chapter in the rich history of the tournament,” Daily News CEO Bill Holiber said Monday. “The Barclays Center will bring a new excitement to the sport of boxing and as a true partner of the Golden Gloves, will help the Daily News continue our strong tradition of supporting amateur boxing in New York.”

NY1 promotion

Meanwhile, NY1 published a segment, headlined Nets Develop Business Deals In Their Future Borough, that provided a tour of the new Nets offices in Brooklyn, led by relentless promoter Brett Yormark (Nets/Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment CEO), keyed to the big news that the Brooklyn Marriott is now the arena's official hotel:

Planting roots in the borough includes partnering with Long Island University and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which will hold events in the arena. Point guard Deron Williams reached out to the community last month when he held a meet-and-greet event at the Fulton Mall.

"Our goal is to come out strong, very aggressively, and let them know we're here," said Yormark.

(Emphasis added)

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Related content...

NY Daily News, The Daily News Golden Gloves boxing tournament moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for next year's title matches

“I’m a fan of boxing in general,” Yormark said. “I think the Golden Gloves defines New York in so many different ways. It truly has a diverse makeup of competitors and it’s made of people who aspire to be champions in that field. If we can help them in any way, shape or form, like offering the Barclays Center as a platform, that’s a great thing for us. My personal goal is to reinvent the Golden Gloves and to give it the biggest platform it’s ever enjoyed.”

NY1, Nets Develop Business Deals In Their Future Borough

"Now that we're here in Brooklyn, we're taking people on site tours of the Barclays Center so we can play show and tell for the first time in a very authentic way," said Nets and Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark.

NoLandGrab: That's a step up from their usual game — bait and switch.

Posted by eric at 9:58 AM

April 2, 2012

Big baby Dwight Howard leaves the Nets in the lurch

Amsterdam News
by Richard G. Carter

The Amsterdam News hilariously blames all the Nets problems on one NBA star who decided playing for the inept franchise might not be such a good idea after all.

Displaying the immaturity of a teenager and backbone of a jellyfish, the muscular 6-foot-11 Howard flip-flopped more than Mitt Romney. After asking the Magic to trade him to the Nets prior to the season, he waffled big-time before changing his mind and citing “loyalty” to Orlando in a bizarre “don’t blame me,” nationally televised news conference on March 15—three hours prior to the trade deadline.
...

The Nets had eagerly awaited the big center’s arrival, and their management felt it was a lock the night before Howard publicly punked out. In effect, Howard held the Nets and their fans hostage for months. During that time, the team signed players to one-year contracts, passed on solid free agents and didn’t renew center Brook Lopez’s contract.

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NoLandGrab: What, no Plan B? Bruce Ratner has been holding Brooklynites hostage for eight years, but we don't remember the author ever complaining about that.

Posted by eric at 10:31 AM

April 1, 2012

On StubHub, some of the last Nets home games in New Jersey are on sale for less than $1

Atlantic Yards Report

Wanna see a Nets game during their last month in New Jersey? Well, if you want to see them play the Knicks, on StubHub, resale seats start at $57.75.

The Miami Heat are also a draw, with seats starting at $24.50. But if you don't mind the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, or Philadelphia 76ers, you can get a seat for less than a buck (plus fees).

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Posted by steve at 11:16 PM

March 29, 2012

Watching the Nets in Newark: an inexpensive trip, but not necessarily a bargain

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder takes a trip to Newark to get a little advance look at Your Brooklyn Nets.

Several news cycles ago, before the Howard discussion crested, and before (and after) the Linsanity hype, I traveled with a Brooklyn friend to the Prudential Center in Newark on Friday night February 3, when the Nets played the Minnesota Timberwolves. I do like basketball, and I wanted to see how things were going in Newark.

The game wasn't bad, and the tickets were cheap. I got two-for-one $30 seats, plus a $10 handling charge, for $40. But two $10 concession cards were thrown in. So each seat--decent but not great location-- essentially cost $10. For even less popular games, the cheapest seats have been available on StubHub for a penny, plus handling.

For a Brooklynite using public transit, I can't say the experience, even at the low prices, was really worth it. The trip takes a while. The team is uneven. And the relentless hype that characterizes the Brett Yormark Nets has been amped up another notch.
...

The Nets' new announcer, David Diamante, was suitably energized when the home team scored and studiously neutral when announcing, say, the name of an opposing player who just hit a three.

And while it's understandable that the public address system shows replays of excellent home team plays, it's annoying that arena-goers--unlike those watching on TV--could not get a replay of a great play by the visitors.

Diamante sounded especially smooth when he announced the Nets Dancers. Was I hearing a tiny trace of his experience DJing at strip clubs?

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Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

March 27, 2012

"Jersey Strong, Brooklyn Ready"? Nets' focus on Brooklyn has its drawbacks, scribe says

Atlantic Yards Report

How well is the Nets' "Jersey Strong, Brooklyn Ready" slogan working? Not so well.

Wrote New York Daily News beat reporter Stefan Bondy 3/24/12:

With injuries and long losing streaks mounting, the Nets have looked increasingly unmotivated and resigned to losing - an offense more understandable considering their lame-duck status in New Jersey, the lack of support at the Prudential Center and the constant focus on Brooklyn.

Thirty-five years in New Jersey is coming to a fitting, anonymous end.

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Related content...

NY Daily News, NJ Nets snap five-game losing streak against Charlotte Bobcats at Prudential Center

NoLandGrab: The Nets started a new losing streak last night, getting blown out at home New Jersey by the Utah Jazz.

Posted by eric at 12:17 PM

March 20, 2012

Nets over Buffalo, 4 to 1?

Well working, system instant of translation, think no you?

Fox News ticker, spotted near Times Square, February 15, 2012.

Photo: Daniel Goldstein

Posted by eric at 11:06 PM

Nets Gain—and Losses

Brooklyn Based

So, it looks like Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard isn’t moving north anytime soon.

And All-Star point guard Deron Williams may not be moving east with the rest of his team when they leapfrog over Manhattan from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

In other words, our soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets don’t seem likely to give us the opportunity to root for the winning team all that often. Barring some miracle finish to the shortened season, right now the Nets are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. The franchise is only two years removed from the worst NBA record of all time [NLG: Not Quite. The Philadelphia 76ers won three fewer games in 1972-73]. Next year has the potential to be a long season, which could add to the frustration Brooklynites are already likely to feel amid all the talk of eminent domain, traffic jams and affordable housing bait-and-switch that already surrounds the Barclays Center, the Nets’ arena.

So what does it mean to Brooklyn basketball fans if, in fact, our new home team sucks?

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Posted by eric at 10:39 PM

March 14, 2012

Intrigue mounts on Nets' pursuit of superstar Orlando center Dwight Howard

Atlantic Yards Report

"Intrigue mounts?" We beg to differ.

As the NBA trading deadline approaches, it seems increasingly clear that superstar Orlando Magic Dwight Howard has no intention of staying. The Nets have the upper hand, but not a lock.
...

(And, of course, if the Nets don't get Howard, they're in danger of losing their one star, guard Deron Williams.)

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Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

March 6, 2012

First Nets staffers relocate to Downtown Brooklyn

NY Post
by Rich Calder

Hey Brooklyn, the Nets have finally arrived.

While the currently NJ-based NBA team's players and coaches won’t be calling the borough home until Barclays Center opens in September, its first 57 staffers began relocating today to the club's new offices at Metro Tech Center in Downtown Brooklyn.

The workers -- mostly in sales and marketing -- came from the club's current headquarters in East Rutherford, NJ, and its luxury-suites sales showroom in Manhattan.

Over the next two months, another 100 employees on the business side of operations will follow over to Metro Tech Center, which is owned by Barclays Center builder Bruce Ratner. The developer first proposed moving the team to Brooklyn nine years ago.

Brace yourselves, Brooklyn.

“Everything is coming together. We’re finally here,” crowed Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, who was among the first to make the move to the new 11th floor offices at 15 Metro Tech Center.

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NoLandGrab: Can you feel the excitement? Not even a smidge? Us neither.

Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

February 29, 2012

Dallas Mavericks' Jason Kidd won't rule out return to Nets next season

Free agent to be would back up Deron Williams - or stay in Dallas

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

"The longevity" might have been longer than we thought.

Jason Kidd finally got his ring elsewhere, after a “migraine” and years of listening to Bruce Ratner’s lip service to an on-again, off-again project in Brooklyn.

But with the Barclays Center nearly finished, Kidd said a final hurrah with the Nets is still a possibility if he doesn’t retire after this season — particularly if it means he’ll back up Deron Williams.

“You can’t rule that out. You have to see what happens,” said Kidd, who like Williams is slated to become a free agent this summer. “First I want to make sure I want to continue playing. But we’ll see what happens here in Dallas. I wouldn’t mind staying here in Dallas if that opportunity presents itself.

“But if Brooklyn presents itself, we’ll see.”

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Posted by eric at 8:49 AM

February 23, 2012

The Three Things The Nets Can Do To Survive in Brooklyn

The Sports Fan Journal
by Jason Clinkscales

Bruce Ratner purchased a seemingly distressed property, dressed it up for staging purposes and sold a majority of it in record fashion within a few years.

Bruce Ratner essentially flipped the New Jersey Nets.

Whoa! Stop right there. "Distressed?" The New Jersey Nets were two-time defending NBA Eastern Conference Champions. Distress only set in once Ratner bought the team as the necessary Trojan horse in his land-grabbing scheme.

We’re still months away from seeing Brooklyn Nets merchandise, as the Nets are playing out the string in Newark. However, there are a few things the Nets need to do once they arrive in The City’s most boisterous borough in order to not only make headlines, but to finally build a permanent identity.
...

The truth is that the future Brooklyn Nets are going to struggle for a while. They very well might struggle for another thirty-five years, despite their new home. This is a franchise that has had brief periods of success couched under generations of mismanagement, disinterest and just plain bad luck. There are plenty of examples of franchises that have experienced the same small peaks and deep valleys, but a handful of them have been able overcome their history. We don’t know how the Nets will buck or follow the trend, but they’re giving themselves a decent shot by embracing Brooklyn. However, what remains to be seen is how Brooklyn itself will embrace the Nets.

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Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

Nix on the Knicks Puns, Please

NY Observer, Editorial

Lin-fidelity?

Not that we’re the only ones with our eye on Number 17: Jay-Z and Beyonce made a rare public appearance last week to a Knicks game, despite the fact that Sean Carter had previously announced a change in his allegiances to the New Jersey Nets (soon to be Brooklyn Nets), of which he is part owner along with Mikhail Prokhorov and Bruce Ratner. He’s already told Knicks fans to start trading in their hats and turn their attention to worshiping Kris Humphries but maybe that doesn’t officially kick in until next season.

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Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

February 16, 2012

Top 10 Greatest New York & New Jersey Nets

Uncle Mike's Musings

One can argue with Uncle Mike's greatest-player rankings, but the roster of worst Nets' owners of all time has an undisputed #1.

2. Jason Kidd, Number 5, guard, 2001-08. Few athletes have ever made as much difference to a team as Kidd did when he arrived in a trade with the Phoenix Suns for clubhouse cancer Stephon Marbury in 2001. Almost instantly, the Nets went from being one of the NBA’s joke franchises to being a genuine title contender. First season: Eastern Conference Champions. Second season: Same, and actually won 2 games in the NBA Finals. Third season: A 3rd straight Atlantic Division Championship. Fourth season…

Well, that’s when Bruce Ratner bought the team, and their fate was sealed. He instantly began the process of moving the Nets to Brooklyn, and the Nets became a lame-duck team, and have spent more seasons as such (7, 2005-12) than did the Montreal Expos (4, 2000-04). Despite another Division title in 2006, it was pretty much all over. Ratner broke up the team, and drove the fans away. The last Nets game I’ve attended had 12,000 people at the Meadowlands Arena – and this was when the San Antonio Spurs were in town, as defending champions, with Eva Longoria still married to the Spurs’ Tony Parker, and Nets part-owner Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce also in the front row. You’d think people would at least want to see them… Pretty soon, Kidd didn’t want to be there, either, and left under a cloud.

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Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

February 8, 2012

NETS SELLING THE FUTURE WITH THROWBACK ABA UNIFORMS

Sports Blog United

The Nets are sending a message to their fans and the rest of the league. The organization is Jersey strong, but it definitely has its minds set for New York. Last night marked the first of five “Hardwood Classics Nights” that the Nets have scheduled for the remainder of the season. During these games, the Nets players suit up wearing their old school New York Nets uniforms from the old ABA days.
...

But just because I like the jerseys doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going out to buy one with Deron Williams’ number 8. It also doesn’t mean I’m going to their new arena next fall to watch.

Let’s face it: the Nets aren’t going anywhere this year with regard to the standings, even if Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks return fast and at 100 percent. This team will leave Jersey not having appeared in the playoffs since the 2006-07 season. Williams isn’t a lock to re-sign with the Nets next year, which seriously dampens any chance of Dwight Howard coming to Brooklyn. It’s going to be a hard sell for fans to show up next year for a team with basically nothing in the future.

And the Nets hope that flashy new uniforms will do the trick?
...

Once the gimmicks and the novelty of the arena and the new team in town flavor wears off, what does the team have left to fall back on?

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NoLandGrab: Unfortunately for the Nets, whether New Jersey or Brooklyn, gimmicks are pretty much the extent of Brett Yormark's tool kit.

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

January 26, 2012

Value of Nets rises 14% despite huge losses; the new arena/market must be key

Atlantic Yards Report

The numbers are stunning. The New Jersey Nets, soon to be Brooklyn Nets, have the third-highest debt to value ratio in the National Basketball Association, at 79%, according to Forbes. The team lost the third-most in the last season, $23.6 million.

Yet the value of the Nets rose 14%, from $312 million to $357 million, according to Forbes, vaulting the team from 21st (of 30) to 14th place.

In the 2011 rankings, the value had risen 16% on losses of $10.2 million, though with an astronomical 224% debt/value ratio.

The article does not go into the explanation, but the opening of a new arena in the new Brooklyn market, is surely key; it offers new revenue streams and sponsorships, and a more valuable TV deal.

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Related content...

Forbes, NBA Team Values

Forbes, The NBA's Billionaires

A couple of years ago, the New Jersey Nets’ planned move to Brooklyn had that look of a pipe dream not ready to come true. Neighborhood activists had already been holding things up in legal bottlenecks. Once that hurdle was cleared, a severe recession made arena financing more complicated and costly for owner Bruce Ratner.

Solution: find some major capital, quickly. Ratner sold off 80% of the team and 45% of the Barclays Center project to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who immediately became the NBA’s wealthiest owner, surpassing even Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The sale paved the way for the Brooklyn Nets to become a reality by next season.

Posted by eric at 11:14 AM

January 23, 2012

Dwight Howard Trade Rumors: New Jersey Nets Could Lose Him and Deron Williams

Bleacher Report
by Ian Sherwin

If [the Orlando Magic's Dwight] Howard is traded to another team besides the Nets before the trade deadline expires, apparently, the Nets will still have no interest in trading Deron Williams. This severely worries me. Yes, it would be awful to trade Williams away, and we would unlikely be able to reacquire the caliber of talent that we gave up in order to trade for him, but in my honest belief, we would need to cut our losses at that point.

But my absolutely biggest fear is that Howard does not come to NJ, and we do not trade away Williams (assuming, as stated previously, that we cannot sign him to a long-term extension). If this is the case, we will have given up a plethora of talent in the Williams trade, we'll have lost Williams and never obtained Howard, and will go into Brooklyn with a .200 level team.

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NoLandGrab: Can you feel the excitement, Brooklyn? We didn't think so.

Related content...

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, N.J./BKN Nets ~ Team Lacks a Head of State

Even the self-deluded faithful are wavering.

On the court, the Nets already have more problems than a math book. And now cracks seem to be appearing in their foundation. Their principle owner; Mikhail Prokhorov; for the moment at least, has better things to do. If his Russian political aspirations turn out favorably, he has announced he will indeed sell his team shares into a Blind Trust; which effectively takes him out of the picture, without having to relinquish ownership of the team.

While the Net owner's quest to be a benevolent modern day tsar is not new, his endeavours none-the-less detract from the organization's dwindling level of whatever cache they still have in light of their move to Brooklyn later this year.

NLG: Note to Yormark — try that on for a slogan: "Brooklyn Nets! Feel the dwindling level of whatever cache!"

Posted by eric at 1:10 PM

Stack’s Stats: Q+A with Brett Yormark

The New Jersey Nets’ CEO discusses Barclays Center.

SLAM Online

Norman Oder covered this interview a couple days ago, but we couldn't resist.

SLAM: How do you want Barclays Center to be perceived by Nets fans and NBA fans, in general?

BY: Well, you know, Barclays Center is bigger than basketball. I want to answer that question more holistically. Our goal is to truly redefine the customer experience in this marketplace. Bruce Ratner often references going into Barclays Center as like going into your living room.

Actually, it's a lot more like going into Daniel Goldstein's living room, which used to be at about center court.

SLAM: What was your strategy in finding the corporate partners with whom you eventually aligned the Nets and Barclays Center?

BY: Initially, our goal was to educate the market on a new way of looking and considering sponsorship. We truly took the philosophy of less is more.

If only BY would apply that "philosophy" to his own BS.

We love the support we’re getting. Our players go into Brooklyn quite often, and they’re doing community engagement. People are honking their horns and saying ‘We love you, Nets’ and it’s a great feeling.

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NoLandGrab: BY, those people honking their horns are not saying "we love you" — but it rhymes with it.

Posted by eric at 12:41 PM

January 19, 2012

A Net Loss

Chasing 23
by Tony Maglio

How bad is life as a Nets' fan? This bad.

We do have some positives as far as the roster goes though. Kris Humphries is a good player, but he’s effectively ruined his career on the E! network – much more booing to follow. For a guy who wasn’t even on the roster before the season, and gets jeered every time he touches the ball, he’s actually leading the team in FG% and rebounding. But generally speaking, if the worst thing about this season of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” is the best thing about your team’s NBA season – you’re in trouble.
...

As of this writing, the Nets are 3-9 and in last place in the Atlantic Division, which is familiar territory. The only wins we have are against the one-win pathetic Washington Wizards (who are lucky this is a shortened season or they’d be chasing the aforementioned futility record), the lame duck Toronto Raptors, and the Phoenix Suns who were without Steve Nash and Grant Hill. It looks to be a long season for myself and the six other NJ Nets fans, but that’s OK – we’re used to it.

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Posted by eric at 9:10 AM

January 18, 2012

Nets release ridiculous ad campaign

Examiner.com
by Gregory Hrinya

Putting aside the stark reality that Deron Williams may opt to play elsewhere, this is the second billboard released in New York Knicks country.

The last billboard had Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z promising a "blueprint for greatness." The two of them have combined to appear at a whopping one game this season, and that blueprint has the Nets sitting very near to the NBA's cellar.
...

And now on the heels of a disastrous performance in Utah, against the very same Jazz that gambled by letting Deron Williams go, the Nets release a billboard to "Believe the hype."

What hype would that be exactly?

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Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Brooklyn-Themed Nets Ad Campaign Debuts—In Manhattan

The Nets Basketball organization unveiled a new ad campaign geared towards prospective season ticket holders for the soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center.

Featuring Nets star point guard Deron Williams, one of the billboards proclaiming, "Welcome to Brooklyn," is located just blocks away from Madison Square Garden—the home turf of New York Knicks basketball.

Posted by eric at 9:50 AM

January 17, 2012

Latest Nets promotion suggests that arena site in late 2012 would feature three towers

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on the Nets' latest effort to sell tickets in Brooklyn, and speculates on the subliminal messaging.

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Posted by eric at 12:24 PM

January 16, 2012

Derrick Favors Says He Was Lied To By The New Jersey Nets

Rant Sports
by Joshua Casey

Looks like we Brooklynites aren't the only ones being sold a bill of goods by Bruce Ratner & Co.

When the New Jersey Nets traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and two first round picks in exchange for Deron Williams to the Utah Jazz last February it was certainly a surprise to many people but it was a huge surprise to one person who was involved in the trade, Derrick Favors. Favors did not want to point anyone out in particular, or call anyone name’s, but he remembers an encounter with New Jersey Nets head coach Avery Johnson on a road trip last season where Johnson called Favors into a coach’s office and told him, “We like you here in Jersey, we’re going to keep you, don’t worry about it.”

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NoLandGrab: Jobs, Housing, Hoops and "don't worry about it."

Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

January 15, 2012

Brooklyn Awaits Nets, but Their Destination as a Team Is Unclear

New York Times
By Harvey Araton

Here's another indication that supporters of the Atlantic Yards development will have to lower their expectations for everything having to do with this enterprise.

The question of where the Nets are headed as an organization and as a basketball team leads only to a host of potential destinations that range from exhilaration to dread, with an occasional detour into comic relief. Technically, and temporarily, the Nets are in Newark, on their way to a new home next season in downtown Brooklyn. By all other practical means of appraisal, their dateline should be limbo.

Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire who owns the Nets and has declared his candidacy for president of Russia, in Moscow on Friday with a banner that reads “Thank you for your vote.”

Constituted in part for the purpose of future salary-cap flexibility, the Nets are only sporadically competitive while listing four players named Williams, but only one, Deron, whom they desperately want but do not know if they can retain. Symbolizing the arm’s length position he has taken to a long-term commitment, Williams has taken up residence in Manhattan, about halfway between the Nets’ two arenas, the Prudential Center in Newark and the rising Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

On a roster that is exceedingly anonymous by famous athlete standards, the Nets also have players named Shawne (Williams), DeShawn (Stevenson) and MarShon (Brooks).

Now that he has what he wants, developer Bruce Ratner speaks candidly:

“All things being perfect, they would be an N.B.A. championship-caliber team when they went to Brooklyn,” said Ratner, who has a majority stake in the Barclays Center and a minor share of the Nets in a partnership with Prokhorov.

Ratner admitted to having “nothing but anxiety” about the team’s competitive prospects, while adding, “Because of how long it’s taken to build the arena, I’m kind of used to the disappointment of things not happening when they were supposed to.”

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NoLandGrab: The promised benefits of Atlantic Yards have not happened "when they were supposed to". The time frame for their arrival may be outside of our lifetime.

Posted by steve at 6:51 PM

January 11, 2012

How many Nets fans from NJ will cross the river (and bring new tax revenues)? "You’re not going to have a lot of people from New Jersey following us," CEO Yormark acknowledged in 2009

Atlantic Yards Report

Despite claims from fellow boosters of the Nets' move to Brooklyn, team CEO Brett Yormark, in a moment of candor, more than two years ago acknowledged that relatively few Nets fans from New Jersey would make the move to Brooklyn.

That won't necessarily affect the bottom line of the team and arena, since new fans from New York surely will buy seats and suites.

But it does diminish the argument for city and state arena subsidies, which were based in part on expectations of new tax benefits to the city and state from out-of-state visitors.

In other words, poaching a team may not be worth what it's cracked up to be.

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Posted by eric at 12:39 PM

Nets CEO Yormark on strategies: a press release a day, never talk publicly about ticket giveaways

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder uncovers some rare and surprising candor from Brett Yormark. Yes, Brett Yormark.

The 4/16/09 session at the Argyle Executive Forum, in which Nets CEO Brett Yormark acknowledged few New Jersey fans would follow the team to Brooklyn, also included a frank description of the team's public relations strategy (pump out a press release a day) and veiled practice of distributing free tickets.

Keep in mind that this was the end of the last season at the Meadowlands, before the team was clearly moving to Brooklyn and before the announcement of the two-year interim move to Newark.

Of course, Yormark is also a walking generator of the most vapid business-speak:

That Argyle Executive Forum transcript is worth a look to see how Yormark employs business buzzwords. They include:

  • "the value player"
  • "I'm going to top-line a couple of things"
  • "our value proposition"
  • "It's truly about the touch points"
  • "it’s been a terrific ‘feel good’ and hopefully later on, we can monetize it"
  • "a great value creation"
  • "a best-in-class experience"
  • "insulate yourself if the product goes south"
  • "mandate buy-in from top to bottom"
  • "Live out of the box"
  • "Value creation, that is the buzz word"
  • "it’s all about hiring on the court now in the product cycle, character guys"
  • "We’re going to investment spend in all the right areas"

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Posted by eric at 12:30 PM

Daily News columnis Hamill, always happy to buff the Brooklyn Nets, salutes Jay-Z, ignores "ethical pickle"

Atlantic Yards Report

Daily News columnist Denis Hamill, who thinks the Brooklyn Nets can give Brooklyn a soul, swallowed Forest City Ratner promotional spin, and saluted those building the arena, deserves notice for his celebratory column yesterday.

The headline: Jay-Z's hardknock life in Marcy Projects paves way to a better life for daughter Blue Ivy Carter: Beyonce and Jay-Z's newborn gets a New York welcome into the world.

You see, Hamill back in December 2002 met Jay-Z when the "shy and humble" rapper was reading to fifth-graders--JAY-Z GIVES KIDS GIFT OF EXAMPLE--and remains quite impressed.

The "ethical pickle'

Jay-Z's a reader, and that fueled his writing skills and helped get him out of the projects, Hamill related back in 2002 and again yesterday. Yes, a dedication to reading is an admirable thing, and it allowed Jay-Z to build on his skills and gifts.

But Jay-Z, in case Hamill needs a reminder, also exited the projects because he was a drug dealer, and that, as writer Sam Anderson once put it, "the ethical pickle at the core of the Jay-Z myth."

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Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

January 6, 2012

Struggling Nets Still More Sideshow than Legitimate Contender

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

The Eagle, obviously, hasn't figured it out. The Nets aren't just not legitimate contenders — they're arguably the worst allegedly professional sports team extant.

The New Jersey (soon-to-be-Brooklyn) Nets were hoping this lockout-shortened 66-game campaign would be more about building excitement for their much-anticipated arrival at the still-under-construction Barclays Center in November, rather than their continued futility on and off the hardwood.

After doubling their win total from an embarrassing 12 to 24 last season under the guidance of coach Avery Johnson and the ownership of Russian presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, Nets general manager Billy King vowed last month that the franchise was through with running out the clowns.

“There will not be a circus atmosphere like we had last year,” King insisted, referring to the Nets’ fruitless pursuit of a deal that would have landed Brooklyn native Carmelo Anthony in Jersey.

Well, that's true — circuses are fun, at least for the audiences.

It’s hard not to hear circus music when the team owner is making an allegedly serious run for the presidency of his home country, the team’s top rebounder has turned into “America’s Most Notorious Ex-Husband,” and the on-the-court product remains substandard.

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NoLandGrab: Wow, if that's "substandard," we sure wouldn't want to lay eyes on bad.

Posted by eric at 11:49 AM

Knicks and Nets Open New Battle Front

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger

Self-appointed basketball "expert" the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger expounds on the "rivalry" between the Knicks and the Nets.

Suffice to say, nothing is going right for either team at the moment. The Knicks can't get a comitment by the players on defense, and the Nets just can't get a committment out of Deron Williams yet. Which brings us to the latest battle of this fledgling, soon-to-be inner city rivalry. The ultimate battle of Dubiousness -

...The Battle for Last Place.

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NoLandGrab: Right, 'cause Deron is so key to the Nets' winning ways. And it's not really a battle — the Knicks may be bad, but the Nets are awful. Their one win in seven games came against the only team in the league that doesn't have any.

Are you psyched, Brooklyn?

Posted by eric at 11:27 AM

January 5, 2012

Nets to move 150 jobs to MetroTech Center in Brooklyn

NY Post
by Rich Calder

In a surprise, the primary beneficiary of the Nets' move to Brooklyn is revealed to be Bruce Ratner.

The Nets are finally beginning their move to Brooklyn.

The NBA team announced today that beginning next month they’re moving 150 jobs on its business side of operations to the MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn.

The 10-year lease is for 35,145 square feet on the 11th floor at 15 MetroTech, which is part of the office complex owned by Forest City Ratner Cos. whose CEO Bruce Ratner cut the deals that are bringing the team to Brooklyn.

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Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

January 4, 2012

New Jersey Nets Ink Office Deal at MetroTech Center

NY Observer
by Daniel Geiger

How's this for economic development? The Bruce Ratner (minority)-owned New Jersey Nets are moving to the Bruce Ratner-owned MetroTech!

The team is relocating its corporate headquarters from East Rutherford to Downtown Brooklyn, where the organization is taking 35,145 square feet at the office building 15 MetroTech Center. The Nets will take the space for between five and 10 years at rents in the $30s per square foot, said sources.

The Nets will sublease 15 Metrotech’s entire 11th floor from Visiting Nurse Health Care System, Inc., which is consolidating its operations onto another floor it leases at the property, the tenth.

The Nets will take possession of the office space in the coming months in preparation for the 2012-2013 season. That season, which begins this October, will be the first the team will play at the Barclays Center, the new arena being built for the organization by developer and partial Nets owner Forest City Ratner as part of a large mixed use real estate project over Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards.

Although Forest City Ratner owns 15 MetroTech and the Atlantic Yards arena in which the basketball team will play, the negotiations were between Visiting Nurse Health Care System and the Nets.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Nets moving offices to Brooklyn, subleasing space from downsizing MetroTech tenant

The Nets are moving their offices to Brooklyn, and to a Forest City Ratner building to boot, but that represents no net gain to the developer, as the team is subleasing space from a downsizing tenant.
...

The team was originally supposed to move to the arena itself, but the 2009 arena downsizing moved the offices off-site.

Posted by eric at 12:05 PM

Prokhorov and Ratner Preparing to Move Semi-pro Team into Naked Arena

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

One has to wonder, what exactly are Bruce Ratner and Mikahil Prokhorov planning on bringing to Brooklyn. A team that can hardly call itself professional and a naked arena?

The New Jersey Nets, once again, are stinking up the joint and the Barclays Center arena is in jeopardy of being facadeless come projected completion in September 2012 now that the custom manufacterer of the rusty panels has gone belly up.
...

Will the arena in Brooklyn be ready when the semi-pro Nets are ready to move? That is now a question worthy of a "no comment" from Forest City Ratner.

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Related coverage...

Brownstoner, Barclays Center Facade Maker Goes Out of Business

Posted by eric at 11:56 AM

January 3, 2012

Nets, Struggling on Offense, Watch Pacers Find Rhythm

The New York Times
by Jake Appleman

New year, same awful Nets.

When the two worst-shooting teams in the N.B.A. got together Monday night, the Nets played down to their standing and fell to the Indiana Pacers, 108-94.

The Pacers, who shot 53 percent to the Nets’ 37 percent, also made 13 of 21 3-point attempts. If sinking shots — and the Nets’ hopes — seemed like no contest for the Pacers, it was because most of the 3-point attempts were not contested.

“We just didn’t do a good job of running them off the 3-point line, of paying attention to details,” Deron Williams said.

Um, you just didn't do a good job, period.

With the Knicks telecast blocked out of many homes in the New York metropolitan area because of MSG Network’s dispute with Time Warner Cable, the Nets, for many, were the only game on. In front of 12,519 at Prudential Center, the undermanned Nets never led.

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NoLandGrab: Looks like "professional" sports won't be coming back to Brooklyn after all.

Photo: Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Posted by eric at 4:30 PM

Barclays Center Enlists Help From Disney

Future home of the Brooklyn Nets signs deal with the people behind Mickey & Co.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

The most Mickey Mouse operation in (allegedly) professional sports has made it official.

First it was the Brooklyn Nets, then Jay-Z. Now the people behind Mickey, Pluto and pals are getting into the Barclays Center mix.

On Monday, the Nets basketball organization announced a partnership with Disney Institute with the aim of having some of the entertainment giant's magic rub off on the quickly rising Barclays Center.

“Anybody who has visited Walt Disney World recognizes that Disney delivers the preeminent customer experience and that’s what we plan to bring to our guests at Barclays Center,” said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark.
...

"Our goal is to bring the best entertainment value to our customers," said Nets senior vice president of communications Barry Baum.

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NoLandGrab: "Entertainment value" like this?

Posted by eric at 4:27 PM

January 2, 2012

Time for some second thoughts on college sports: giving up on college football and paying (football and basketball) athletes

Atlantic Yards Report

It's time for some second thoughts on big-time college sports, including the sport that feeds the NBA and the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets.

In his year-end column for The Nation, 2011: The Year I Learned to Hate College Football, Dave Zirin wrote:

In a decade of sports writing, I’ve always used a very basic framework: don’t reject sports, reclaim it. In other words, no matter how greedy, hateful, or ugly sports become, you fight for it to change. No matter how many publicly funded stadiums or Redskin logos, or how much sexist doggerel is expectorated by the athletic industrial complex, you remember what you love about sports. You stand your ground and never forget the fun, fellowship and artistry these games have the potential to produce. That’s been my framework, until now.

...It’s not just because the bowl season has turned into an orgy of commercial branding that would shame a NASCAR event... It’s not the ugly use of football to sell the business of war...

This year I was broken by just how disgusting the institution of college football has become.

Zirin pointed to the scandals at Ohio State University and the University of Miami, where, as a result of the "hypocritical" system, athletes were slammed for extracting "modest compensation," then Penn State University "and the way the economic, social and cultural imperatives of big-time college football were put ahead of the safety and welfare of small children." Finally, Ohio State hired free agent head coach Urban Meyer for $24 million over six years.

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Posted by steve at 4:23 PM

Post salutes Nets' use of Disney trainers; shouldn't Atlantic Yards contractors similarly care about "redefining customer experience"?

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Post reports, in ‘Mouse’ cleaning for Nets:

Trying to bring a theme-park feel to the team’s new arena in Brooklyn, Nets brass have hired Walt Disney Co.’s training arm to teach the Barclays Center’s employees the secrets of its Magic Kingdom.

“We want to create a magical experience where everyone is treated like a VIP no matter where they sit, and no one does it better than Disney,” Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark told The Post.

The goal, he added, is “redefining customer experience” for sports and entertainment venues with “unmatched, street-to-seat” service and hospitality.

Maybe they should have started with contractors at the Atlantic Yards site, who, among other things, poured a mysterious powder on Pacific Street.

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Posted by steve at 4:18 PM

December 27, 2011

Can a Sports Team’s Ill Fortunes Be Foretold in Its Name?

The New York Times
by Clyde Haberman

Developments in the New York sports world over the holiday weekend lead to a conclusion that has been bubbling for a while, and now seems inescapable: If you root for a team whose name ends in “ets,” you’re swimming in a sea of troubles.
...

There is another “ets” team, the basketball-playing Nets of New Jersey, which is destined to move soon to Brooklyn in the arena that is rising at Atlantic Yards. This team is some catch. It lost 70 percent of its games last season. At that, it was vastly improved over the previous year, when it lost 85 percent of the time.
...

By the way, the basketball team’s majority owner is Mikhail D. Prokhorov, a billionaire oligarch who announced this month that he would challenge Vladimir V. Putin for the Russian presidency in an election scheduled for the spring. Distracted as Mr. Prokhorov is by Russian politics, it is hard to see how much attention he will give to his flop of a basketball crew as it prepares to move to Brooklyn.

Maybe yet another name change is called for, particularly if this team doesn’t improve. Why not the Brooklyn Nyets?

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Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

December 24, 2011

If "everything about the Nets is targeted toward the future," then Brook Lopez's foot injury cannot be good news

Atlantic Yards Report

In his 12/22/11 Grantland article, A Week With the New Jersey Nets: Our man in the Tri-State Area spends some time with Avery Johnson and his team, Jonathan Abrams explains:

Everything about the Nets is targeted toward the future: next year's move to Brooklyn, the retention of Deron Williams past this season, the luring of Dwight Howard, even majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov's bid to become the future president of Russia. Looking over the current roster, it is hard to imagine who, exactly, might be present after the move. Williams, certainly and hopefully. Rookie guard MarShon Brooks will probably be there as well. The rest of the roster is subject to being traded at a whim, having their contracts expire, or being cut before the end of camp.

How's that going? In recent weeks, there have been more than a few stories and tweets indicating that the Nets were Magic center Howard's first choice, part of a trade that had to include Nets center Brook Lopez. But Magic brass chose not to make a deal, so Nets strategists--who do have cap space and draft picks--must wait.

And, as No Land Grab's Eric McClure noted, the bad news for the Nets this week was not the booing of forward Kris Humphries (whose hoops skills far exceed his judgment in participating in for-the-camera weddings).

Rather, it was Lopez's stress fracture in his foot, which the Times deemed "a twin blow to the Nets’ prospects this season and their hopes of landing Dwight Howard."

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Posted by steve at 4:52 PM

December 23, 2011

Nothin' but Nets!

The Mikhail Prokhorov/Bruce Ratner/Jay-Z-owned basketball team made news this week — and none of it good. Could it be The Curse of the Land Grab?

Yahoo! Sports, Kris Humphries, not LeBron James, is the NBA’s most hated player

First off, they coughed up $8 million to re-sign the league's least-popular player.

A year ago at this time, Kris Humphries was a fairly unassuming backup big man for the New Jersey Nets. Then he started casually dating America's sweetheart Kim Kardashian. That romance eventually turned into something more serious -- he went on her TV show, she went to Newark for a game -- and in August they married. It lasted only 72 days, because some loves are just too powerful to do anything but burn out.

Humphries now has a greater celebrity profile, but that fame has been welcomed with searing hatred by many Kardashophilic people of this nation. In fact, a recent Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research poll lists him as the most hated player in the NBA.

But that's not the real bad news. This is.

The New York Times, Foot Injury to Lopez Deals the Nets Twin Setbacks

Brook Lopez is heading for foot surgery, dealing a twin blow to the Nets’ prospects this season and their hopes of landing Dwight Howard.

Lopez sustained a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his right foot in Wednesday’s preseason finale against the Knicks. Surgery is scheduled for Friday. The Nets have not announced a timetable for his return, but it is likely that Lopez will miss at least six weeks.

Lopez, 23, would be the key player in any trade for Howard, the Orlando Magic center, who has asked to be traded. The injury could delay any deal or perhaps scare off the Magic. The N.B.A. has a long history of big men having their careers derailed by foot problems, from Bill Walton to Yao Ming.

The severity of Lopez’s injury seemed to catch the Nets off guard. Although the foot was injured in the first half, Lopez played the entire game, finishing with 15 points and 9 rebounds in nearly 22 minutes.

NoLandGrab: Do you think Brook Lopez might be asking himself "would they have left me in for the whole game if they weren't planning on shipping me to Orlando?"

Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

December 22, 2011

Token Mets Owners vs. Nets "Owner" Jay-Z

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Speaking of Hova's token role...

Today The New York Times, in a tongue-in-cheek (borderline sneering) manner, takes a look at the financially strapped New York Mets' effort to sell off $20 million shares of the team to minority owners who will have no say in the franchise's development but will receive perks such as access to the Mets' mascot Mr. Met and a parking spot at CitiField. For its story The Times obtained a term sheet given by the Mets' owners to prospective partners.

According to The Times a $20 milllion share represents about 4% of the team (our calculations peg it at about 2.6%).

What's this have to do with Atlantic Yards? Well "cultural icon" Jay-Z is a less than 1% owner of the New Jersey Nets, paying roughly $4.5 million for the right to be out front of the team's marketing campaigns. Yet one would believe from the media coverage (including The Times) and the Nets public relations strategy that he owns a substantial portion of the team. Or, as Norman Oder put it in a Salon article, "He's become the face of the franchise, the Teflon-coated superstar employed by his partners to distract attention from the hardball politics, sweetheart deals and private profits behind the arena and the rest of the 16-tower project."
...

So $20 million to the Mets affords the investor the booby prize of getting to hang with the Mets' mascot. With the Nets, $4.5 million makes you the owner, at least in the eyes of the celebrity-obsessed press.

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Posted by eric at 12:26 PM

NBA Preview, Part One: Breaking Down The Heat, Bulls, And The Rest Of The East

SBNation
by Andrew Sharp

SBNation picks the Nets to finish 12th in the 15-team Eastern Conference, and here's one reason:

The karma surrounding the Nets move to Brooklyn is not good. The scheming from Bruce Ratner, Jay-Z's token role in selling the whole thing, and even the way the team's ditching Jersey after years of putting together a horrid product. It all feels kind of shady, and even if it's all legal, that doesn't mean they'll get away without getting burned.

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Posted by eric at 12:20 PM

December 20, 2011

Times gives lavish space to puff piece on new Nets announcer, ignores "sordid history" (by the way, he says cigars are healthier than cigarettes)

Atlantic Yards Report

Sure, Kim Jong-Il is dead, the Eurozone economies are in shambles, and it's an all-out race to the bottom among Republican presidential hopefuls, but whoa — get a load of that new Nets PA announcer's hair!

Number of paragraphs about Atlantic Yards in front-page New York Times article yesterday about EB-5 projects that stretch the rules: 1.

Number of paragraphs in Sports section article today about new Nets announcer David Diamante: 21.

A bit of a puff piece

The Times article, headlined New Nets Announcer Shows Flair and Hair, lets him describe his various jobs and hobbies--motorcyclist, DJ, surfer, boxing announcer. He's got long dreadlocks...

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Related content...

The New York Times, Nets Announcer Shows Flair and Hair

Diamante was not among the original 400 prospective announcers who auditioned for the Nets in September. After learning of the tryouts, he contacted Nets representatives and was included in the final round of 20 announcers in October. He got the job, signed a multiyear contract and last week announced his first game with the team, at its current home in Newark.

NoLandGrab: Yet one more example of the flawed process surrounding Atlantic Yards.

The Brooklyn Paper, Brooklyn man to be the voice of the Barclays Center

The team will get a side benefit from hiring Diamante, who is active in charities in his spare time, most recently including holding an auction that raised more than $18,000 for Treasure Island Pre-school in Bay Ridge.

“I try to live my life like that,” Diamante said. “You have to be a good neighbor.”

The Nets have been struggling to be just that as the controversial Barclays Center nears completion. But Diamante thinks that any lingering hard feelings will disappear once the team hits the hard wood.

Posted by eric at 1:07 PM

December 7, 2011

New Jersey's NBA Goodbye Is Set

Uncle Mike's Musings

The Nets' New Jersey finale -- barring the Playoffs, but who's kidding who -- will be on Monday night, April 23, at the Prudential Center. Somewhat appropriately, it will be against the team to whom the New York Nets had to sell Julius Erving just to get into the NBA in 1976, the Philadelphia 76ers. Instantly, they went from being the best team in the ABA to being the worst team in the NBA, moved to the Rutgers Athletic Center in 1977, changing their name to the New Jersey Nets, to the Meadowlands in 1981, and to the Prudential a year ago.

The last day of the NBA regular season will be Thursday, April 26, and the Nets will play their last game as the New Jersey Nets at the Air Canada Centre against the Toronto Raptors. Come November 2012, it will be home games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as the Brooklyn Nets.

Damn you, Bruce Ratner. R.I.P. New Jersey Nets, 1977-2012.

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Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

December 6, 2011

Lost in America's ghost franchises

The pending sales of the Dodgers and the Jaguars, and the dislocation damage done

ESPN.com
by Jeff MacGregor

This thoughtful essay from ESPN's This Sporting Life touches just briefly on the Nets, but it's well worth reading in its entirety.

I visited a grave the other day. It's where the Brooklyn Dodgers are buried.

This is out in Crown Heights, at the intersections of Sullivan Place and Bedford Avenue, McKeever Place and Montgomery Street. It's also the intersection of "The Boys of Summer" and "The Death and Life of Great American Cities." Of Roger Kahn and Jane Jacobs. Of the 19th and 20th centuries. Of memory and money and history and fantasy.

This is where Ebbets Field was.

With the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers now upon us -- and that of an unloved football franchise down in Jacksonville, Fla. -- we note this week the staying power of impermanence, the fickle nature of devotion, the business of business, and the unbridgeable distance between "change" and "progress."
...

Does ownership of a pro sports franchise constitute a public trust? Or is it just another hustle? Or does that calculus change according to our cynicism and the needs and wants of the leagues and the owners?

I'm not sure it matters. It didn't seem to matter to Walter O'Malley the year I was born. He took the Dodgers west to find his fortune and broke Brooklyn's heart. A year from now, the borough takes the Nets from New Jersey, and their new home will be Atlantic Yards (see this or this) -- just across the park from the fossil footprint of Ebbets Field.

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Posted by eric at 12:43 PM

December 1, 2011

How Brooklyn Nets Can Cut In On Knicks

SBNation.com
by Jason Concepcion

Are there any more played-out tropes than Brooklyn Nets or Brooklyn Hipsters? What about combining the two for even greater inanity?!

The Nets are coming to Brooklyn in 2012 and they will be looking for fans deep in Knicks territory. Luckily there exists a group -- indigenous to the Balkanized borough of Brooklyn -- that remain largely untapped by team loyalties.

These are the hipsters. Residing in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bushwick these post-modern tastemakers are ripe for the picking for any team who knows what attracts them. Our suggested gameplan follows.

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Posted by eric at 6:01 PM

Deron Williams will not sign extension with Nets, agent says

NorthJersey.com
by Al Iannazzone

The good news? The Barclays Center will host a swanky equestrian event. The bad news? The Barclays Center will likely not host the Nets' best player.

The slim hope the Nets had of Deron Williams signing a contract extension has been dashed completely.

Williams’ agent said his client will play out this season and become a free agent next summer.

Deron will not be signing the extension,” Jeff Schwartz told The Record this afternoon. “Based on the new rules it doesn’t make any sense for him to sign the extension. It has nothing to do with how much he likes New Jersey. Because of the rules, he’s going to play the season out and probably opt out of his deal.”

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Related coverage...

ESPN.com, Agent: Deron Williams won't sign

Sources close to the team said the Nets aren't concerned by the news, saying they really prefer equestrian events knew it was going to happen.

It is not surprising that Williams would take this route. He can earn roughly $30 million more by opting out at the end of the season and re-signing with the Nets, if that's what he decides to do.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn’s Superman?

According to a report on ESPN yesterday, the Nets aren’t waiting long to find a running mate for superstar point guard Deron Williams.

Um, the guy who's not willing to sign an extension? That's kind of putting the cart before the horse-jumping, isn't it?

With the NBA lockout solved and the season set to begin on Christmas Day, the soon-to-be-Brooklyn franchise is reportedly preparing a trade for high-flying Orlando center Dwight “Superman” Howard.

Current Nets center Brook Lopez and a pair of future first-round picks could be part of a proposed deal that would lock Howard into position as Williams’ co-star when the team moves into the Barclays Center in November 2012.

NoLandGrab: Except that Williams isn't locked into anything, so why would Dwight Howard approve that trade?

Posted by eric at 5:42 PM

November 30, 2011

Meet The Women Behind The Brooklyn Nets

Forbes

Deep inside the steel skeleton of the soon-to-be Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, drills are whirring, hammers striking and cranes excavating. The air is dusty and the ground littered with piles of wires, metal beams and loose hardware. Despite her suit dress and open-toed heels, an unconcerned MaryAnne Gilmartin, the arena’s lead developer, simply steps around the debris. In just 10 months, these gaping bones will welcome the NBA’s New Jersey Nets to their new home—as the Brooklyn Nets—thanks to two powerful women working vigorously behind the scenes.

If real estate mogul Bruce Ratner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov are the faces of the New York-bound basketball franchise, Gilmartin and Irina Pavlova are the feet on the ground, clearing the way. As EVP of Forest City Ratner Companies, Gilmartin manages development of the near $1 billion arena, which anchors the larger $4.9 billion, 22-acre Atlantic Yards project in the heart of Brooklyn. Pavlova represents the interests of Prokhorov, the minority owner of the arena and majority owner of the Nets, its major tenant.

We'll leave it to Atlantic Yards Report to dissect Gilmartin's fantasy version of events. Here's some of the bit on Pavlova.

Spearheading the excitement over the 18,000-seat arena, Pavlova, 41, gets a live video feed of construction on her desktop and gushes that she cheers so hard at Nets’ home games she loses her voice. The Russian-American has dual citizenship, speaks five languages (with varying levels of fluency) and has worked all over the world. She started her career at Prudential in New York, and in 2005 launched the Moscow office of Google. In 2010, the chief executive of Onexim, Prokhorov’s company, told Pavlova over a casual dinner about a little deal with an American team, and asked if she’d be interested in “keeping an eye on things” in the States. “I don’t know a thing about basketball,” she said, but soon agreed.

Which would explain why she shouts herself hoarse at Nets' games.

And she learned quick. “It took me a few months to get my hands around the business and get comfortable with how things work,” Pavlova says with a subtle accent. “I’ve learned it’s tickets, sponsorships and suite sales. It’s not rocket science.”

Which would explain how the Nets' CEO qualifies as a "Yormarketing genius."

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Posted by eric at 11:57 AM

November 29, 2011

Two sports columnist react to the resumption of the NBA and the meaning of Brooklyn

Atlantic Yards Report

Grantland editor Dan Fierman, a contributor to The NBA Is Back! An over-the-top, totally ridiculously long, undeniably giddy appreciation of the return of the NBA by the Grantland staff:

One of the very hardest things about leaving Brooklyn was sacrificing a front-row seat to how the Nets move played out. The real estate battles, the simmering class warfare over the Barclays Center, and the arrival, as if from space, of the gangly billionaire from Russia was the greatest drama we had going in the borough. The storylines were ready-made: The return of professional sports to the County of Kings! The Deron Williams contract debate! Jay and Bey courtside every night!

These things were (obviously) media crack in the only city in America that has its own 24-hour cable news channel. But to me and my 30-something peers, the Nets move was more than that. Brooklyn is a borough rapidly filling with children. Schools are bursting at the seams. Teachers can't be hired fast enough. The parks overflow with new parents who were themselves moved out of NYC as children by overprotective fathers and mothers. As someone who was very recently one of their number — the father of a son just now old enough to understand what goaltending means, and maybe even to comprehend the importance of inside positioning — I can tell you how much that move to Brooklyn meant to those parents. See kid, look! Look at how Deron throws the outlet pass! Watch how Lopez keeps those hands above his head! Listen to the goddamned crowd roar! How can you possibly not love this game?

Only if you forget how it was done.

New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey, in Welcoming Back N.B.A. With Open Yawns, allows for a side notice:

My flicker of enthusiasm for the Nets included their move from that dismal spot in the swamps into that struggling, but recognizable, urban center, Newark. Next year they will move into a much more vibrant place — the land grab near downtown Brooklyn being a separate issue. Just the mention of Brooklyn evokes the scent of restaurants and walks in cool neighborhoods.

The lingering question: will people agree with Mayor Mike Bloomberg, as depicted in the documentary Battle for Brooklyn, that “Nobody’s going to remember how long it took, they’re only going to look and see that it was done”?

Likely many sports reporters and columnists won't remember. Others, understandably, will experience, "issue fatigue." But people will remember. The movie's just one sign of that.

link

Related content...

Grantland, The NBA Is Back! An over-the-top, totally ridiculously long, undeniably giddy appreciation of the return of the NBA by the Grantland staff

The New York Times, Welcoming Back N.B.A. With Open Yawns

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

November 16, 2011

Nets Rally Amid Dreary NBA News

Though the NBA lockout continues, the Nets held a rally in Downtown Brooklyn to drum up support in their new home.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

Though the NBA lockout continues, and the players have now rejected the league’s contract offer and shut down their union, the Nets still went ahead with their “Brooklyn Experience” rally outside of Borough Hall yesterday, according to the New York Times.

Though still located in New Jersey, the team will move to the Barclays Center area when construction is finished. Ironically, the rally was held on the same day that construction workers held a press conference about their legal suit against the developers behind the Atlantic Yards mega-project, which includes the new stadium.

Still, fans lined up outside of Borough Hall to shoot hoops, while others enjoyed music from a D.J. and Nets dancers shimmied adopt a 40-foot promotional trailer.

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Posted by eric at 4:54 PM

November 15, 2011

Nets Hold a Rally Amid a Lockout and an Uncertain Season

CityRoom
by Liz Robbins

While seven Brooklynites who'd been duped by phony promises of Atlantic Yards jobs were holding a press conference about their lawsuit in front of the district office of City Councilmember Tish James, The New York Times was on the case — covering a pre-packaged, phony New Jersey Nets "media event" at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Really.

On Tuesday, the day after one of the bleakest in the history of the National Basketball Association — when the players rejected the league’s contract offer, disbanded their union and the season seemed closer to being doomed — the Nets held a rally to promote their “Brooklyn Experience” outside Borough Hall.

This was for a team still located in New Jersey and that will play in Downtown Brooklyn next year in an arena now half-built — in a league that may not operate for the foreseeable future.

The gleeful scene amid such uncertainty, and under the threat of a new lawsuit, was a bit absurd, not to mention surreal, like a Mad Hatter’s tea party held under ominous skies.

Happy fans lined up to shoot baskets — most of them woefully off the mark — against the tricked-out 40-foot mobile promotional trailer that had television screens inside and screens outside showing video games in which the Nets played against themselves.

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NoLandGrab: Note to media — if the Nets dancers and Sly Fox are on hand, it's probably not a real news story.

Posted by eric at 11:00 PM

Nets To Lose Less With No Season?

NetsDaily

The Nets might find a silver lining in a lost NBA season — fewer operating losses.

Forbes, which chronicles what the rich do with their money, thinks that a lost season could benefit the Nets financial picture, that they're one of five NBA teams that will lose less money this year than they would have if the team played games. The financial picture was laid out a few days back by Mike Ozanian.

According to Forest City Enterprises, Bruce Ratner's parent company, the bulk of the team's $35+ million in losses will have to be eaten by the Cleveland firm. Under the 2009 deal between Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian agreed to handle up to 80% of the Nets losses in New Jersey with a ceiling of $60 million. That ceiling was reached in June and FCE is now responsible for much of the team's losses, just as it was before Prokhorov bought in.

And Prudential Center isn't going to miss the Nets much either. Bob Sommer, who runs the Rock, says the venue will be able to fill its dates whether the Nets play this season or not. “We won’t be financially disabled, perhaps we’ll even be better off," said Sommer. It appears the only people who will be hurt will be those dependent on the games for revenue, from restaurant and bar owners outside the arena to people like ball boys and scorekeepers inside.

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Posted by eric at 11:48 AM

November 14, 2011

Press conference Tuesday afternoon at Borough Hall: new mobile 'EXPERIENCE'

Atlantic Yards Report

A press release from the Nets, headlined Barclays Center and Nets Basketball to unveil new mobile 'EXPERIENCE' on plaza at Brooklyn Borough Hall: Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, NETS General Manager Billy King, And NETS Head Coach Avery Johnson to Attend Event...

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Posted by eric at 9:02 PM

November 11, 2011

P.S. 9 and M.S. 571 Celebrate New Playground

The ribbon-cutting of the $305,000 revamped space was marked with poetry, dance, song ... and a giant silver fox.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

P.S. 9 and M.S. 571 celebrated the opening of its $305,000 playground yesterday with song, dance, poetry and even a visit from the NETS mascot, Sly.
...

The revamped space was funded in part by Out2Play, a non-profit that raises funds to refurbish NYC public school playgrounds, the NYC Department of Education, Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, and the Barclays Nets Community Alliance, a partnership of Forest City Ratner, the NETS and Barclays that, since forming in 2007, has given area non-profits $1 million a year, according to a NETS news release.

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NoLandGrab: Here's a recent Atlantic Yards Report piece on the Barclays Nets Community Alliance's playground funding.

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

November 10, 2011

Catching up on the NBA lockout: contract may be resolved today, but a lost season would hurt the Brooklyn-bound Nets far less than rival teams rooted in their cities

Atlantic Yards Report

We're the 88% (who haven't noticed that the NBA is missing)!

What does the continued NBA lockout--which may finally be resolved today (see links at NetsDaily)--mean to the New Jersey Nets? Well, consider the post by Forbes magazine's Mike Ozanian, who considers the team among Five NBA Teams Would Lose Less Money With No Season.

That's consonant with one report--though they haven't been widespread--portraying principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov as a hardliner. CBSSports.com's Ken Berger wrote 11/6/11, in For hardliners on both sides, 96 hours left to save NBA season:

Prokhorov, who according to sources is fine with a strategy that would blow up his mediocre team's last season in Newark, is lucky in that he doesn't really have a fan base to hold him accountable. But where are the city attorneys, district attorneys, attorneys general and editorial page writers in some of those other cities to ask who's going to refund taxpayer money that's funding empty basketball arenas during a canceled season?

Then again, playing this season might help keep star point guard Deron Williams, who can opt out of his contract, on board. More importantly, under the owners' proposal, the Nets will have a lot of flex in their salary cap to sign free agents to complement Williams.

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NoLandGrab: The Nets had a lot of flex last year, too, when they were rebuffed by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudemire and ended up with Johan Petro, Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow, and Jordan Farmar. Who?

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

November 9, 2011

Barclays Nets Community Alliance no longer claiming "it has funded" refurbished playgrounds but rather "funded in part"

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest press release promoting a playground refurbished by the Barclays Nets Community Alliance has a subtle but significant change in language, as the team/sponsor no longer seem to claim all the credit. (I'm checking on the actual numbers.) They still get to issue the press release, though.

Previous claim

About two months ago, the alliance was claiming that "it has funded" a refurbished playground, leaving the impression it deserved most of the credit, even though the alliance paid about one-eighth the cost.

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Posted by eric at 10:12 PM

N.B.A. Needs Drastically Different Approach

The New York Times
by William C. Rhoden

Brooklyn Nets ad whiz Steve Stoute — who recently called Bruce Ratner "our generation's Robert Moses" — has a plan for ending the NBA stalemate: have the 1% partner up with the other 1%.

Commissioner David Stern likes to talk about partnership, but in the rough-and-tumble world of stalled labor negotiations, the fundamental relationship is anything but.
...

The N.B.A. and the players are engaged in another season-threatening battle over the distribution of what has become about $4 billion a year in revenue. This is not what a partnership looks like. If the N.B.A. and the players were actually partners, with players having an ownership stake in the league, we might be watching basketball instead of owners against players, owners against owners and players against players.

The concept of players’ equity would probably be met with great resistance from the owners and take years to work out. But given the tangled state of current negotiations, why not strategize now for the next contract?

“There’s not a better time than now,” said Steve Stoute, the founder and chief executive of Translation Consultation and Brand Imaging.

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NoLandGrab: Actually, there was a better time than now — before now. With 88% of the public saying "really, there's an NBA lockout?", would anyone care if the Nets never played a game in Brooklyn — or anywhere else?

Posted by eric at 9:08 PM

November 8, 2011

NetsDaily Off-Season Report #30

NetsDaily

With no actual basketball to write about, NetsDaily devotes itself to real estate development, and unearths an interesting modular-construction tidbit from SHoP's Gregg Pasquarelli:

In a little noticed discussion among New York architects on September 12, arena design architect Gregg Pasquarelli raised doubts that it's going to work.

It's horrifying for me to say this but we are working on 2.7 million square feet of affordable housing in the city in five towers....I mean we've got two parallel teams working on this modular project to see if there's a way to build a 40- or 50-story modular building because by keeping it in the factory we can control the cost in a lot better way that we can out in the field. And it's really hard. We've been working on it ...three separate teams of 25 people working day and night on this for a year with developers who say I want a good building supportive developers who say build me the best building you can but here's the budget. It's almost impossible.

Pasquarelli doesn't mention Atlantic Yards, but it does seem that's what he's talking about and what Ratner wants him do. Pasquarelli's SHoP firm has a commission to design at least the first tower and has also been asked to revise the Frank Gehry master plan for Atlantic Yards.

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Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

November 7, 2011

New Jersey left behind when Nets move to Brooklyn?

NorthJersey.com
by John Brennan

Bergen Record reporter follows up on the same NY1 report.

About seven years ago, I attended a Nets press conference about the plan to move the Nets to Brooklyn in a few years. At one point Bruce Ratner, then principal owner of the Nets, told me that he thought he could retain a good portion of the New Jersey Nets fans once they move to Brooklyn.

Considering that few New Jerseyans I know make many – if any – trips to Brooklyn, that seemed like a stretch.

Now comes some interesting numbers from Dan Lefton, vice president of suites sales and premium seating for the Barclays Center, which is scheduled to open near downtown Brooklyn in 10 months.

Lefton told NY1 television that 39 percent of sales of his product come from Brooklyn, 25 percent from Manhattan, and the rest a combination of “New Jersey, Connecticut, and Philly.
...

I suspect that Lefton also would mean to include sales from Queens, Long Island, and Westchester County, further cutting into the portion of the 36 percent of remaining suite and club seat sales that come from New Jersey.

But what about single-game tickets?

Some Nets officials sensibly have theorized that the Nets could draw a respectable Jersey crowd for Saturday and Sunday afternoon games, when the least amount of traffic would be expected. But automobile-riding suburbanites may find it difficult to find parking, so the best hope for a Jersey audience is from those willing to take a subway or two. Of course, those lines run less frequently on weekends. That means the Nets may find it challenging to come up with a way to attract Garden Staters.

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NoLandGrab: Especially since they've had little luck attracting Garden Staters while actually playing in the Garden State.

Posted by eric at 11:37 AM

Journalism or advertising? Inaccurate NY1 piece posits that "Barclays Suite Showroom Has Robust Sales"

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder follows up on a ridiculously hollow bit of "news."

Let's take a closer look at the 11/3/11 NY 1 item headlined Barclays Suite Showroom Has Robust Sales.

Despite the headlined, there's no evidence in the piece that the sales are robust. We learn that "The Nets sales group says it has sold half of the available suites since they went on the market in March."

That's not true. Actually, suites went on sale three years earlier, in 2008. They had sold some 26 suites--about one quarter of the current total--by May 2008.

By July of this year, they had sold "close to half" of the 100 suites, according to Crain's. So in three years they went from one-quarter to about one-half. That's not so robust.

Journalism or advertising?

The rest of the piece is an advertisement, letting us know the strategy of those promoting the arena....

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NoLandGrab: Honestly, Barclays Center suite sales have so far been more bust than robust.

Related content...

NY1, Barclays Suite Showroom Has Robust Sales

Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

November 1, 2011

Brooklyn Love & Basketball

The Wall Street Journal
by Jason Gay

Their love couldn't survive the lockout.

On Monday, the news arrived that the future First Lady of Brooklyn, Kim Kardashian, had filed for divorce from Kris Humphries, a broad-shouldered basketball free-agent-to-be, most recently of the basketball Nets.

The melancholy word came not from the NBA, but the TMZ.

In total, the Kardashian-Humphries union spanned 72 days. That's 51 days fewer than the NBA's work stoppage, which began on July 1.
...

Every New York area sports fan should root for these two crazy lovebirds to make another try.

Who wasn't looking forward Kim and Kris in Brooklyn? There is no guarantee Humphries will re-sign with the Nets when (and if) the lockout ends, and the team does have to play one more zombie season in Jersey.

But Kim & Kris in Brooklyn was the weird home-spun fantasy, the magazine cover waiting to happen. The world's most overexposed couple in the world's most overexposed place. Borough president Marty Markowitz would drive them both to work in the morning.

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NoLandGrab: Actually, their split saves us from having Markowitz make more inappropriate comments, a la his tasteless Beyoncé shtick at the arena groundbreaking.

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

October 31, 2011

Kim Kardashian Files For Divorce

MTV.com
by Jocelyn Vena

OMG, he plays for the Nets? Weren't they like 12-70 two years ago? Eeewww!

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries said "I do" in an elaborate, very public ceremony over the summer, and now comes word that the reality starlet and her basketball player hubby are calling it quits just 72 days after tying the knot.
...

The news comes as several tabloids have been reporting on Kim and Kris' marital woes. Kardashian and NBA player Humphries married on August 20 in California in a lavish ceremony in front of friends, family and E! cameras.

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Posted by eric at 10:56 PM

October 29, 2011

A "tough guy from Brooklyn": new book describes Vinny Viola, Nets minority owner (and the one who brought Mary Higgins Clark on board)

Atlantic Yards Report

Had the larger-than-life Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov not emerged on the scene, the buyer of the New Jersey Nets may well have been Brooklyn-born Vincent (Vinny) Viola, former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and now chair of the firm Virtu Financial.

And Viola appears to be a colorful figure in his own right, according to The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market, journalist Leah McGrath Goodman's dishy 2011 book about NYMEX. Still, given some careless reporting, we may have to take some of it with a grain of salt.

...

Viola, a New Jersey resident and longtime Nets season ticket holder (via NetsDaily, which offered a 6/26/09 bio sketch), got to know Bruce Ratner through real estate. Goodman writes:

After becoming a Nymex trader, Viola also dabbled in other businesses, running some community banks in Dallas and starting up proprietary trading shops active in the New York and London energy markets. After taking the chairmanship, he even invested in the Nets basketball team alongside real-estate developer Bruce Ratner, who'd worked on the construction of the Nymex building that had generated so much controversy. The two men moved the team from New Jersey to Viola's hometown of Brooklyn, with Viola bringing in other investors from Nymex--most notably, bestselling mystery romance novelist Mary Higgins Clark, whose daughter Patty Clark Derenzo was Viola's secretary.

Despite the past tense, the team has not yet moved.

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Posted by steve at 3:27 PM

October 27, 2011

Nets fans deserve one last hurrah

Examiner.com
by Gregory Hrinya

The NBA will not play a full 82-game season in 2011-12, and odds are the league will not play any games at all.

The owners and players are back at the bargaining table Wednesday in an attempt to salvage some semblance of a season. A shortened season is never ideal, and while the NBA may not need it, New Jersey Nets fans need it.

Most of the Nets organization has already checked out and moved on to Brooklyn, be literally or figuratively. The Nets corporate offices are in transition from East Rutherford's PNY Center to One MetroTech Center North in Brooklyn. Basketball operations will remain in New Jersey for now, but before the 2012-13 season, the Nets will officially become New York property.

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Posted by eric at 11:20 AM

October 21, 2011

Brooklyn Nets desperately need a new name: It sounds bad, and it means nothing

NY Daily News
by Alexander Nazaryan

Nazaryan, who's written insipidly about Atlantic Yards before, wastes more ink on the critical issue of the name "Nets." Seriously.

But the Nets, currently of New Jersey and soon of Brooklyn, are the nadir of athletic nomenclature. True, we may not have a basketball league to speak off, since the segment of our maligned 1% that can dunk a basketball can't settle its dispute with franchise owners. But if Brooklyn does host its first pro team since the Dodgers decamped for Los Angeles in 1957, that team cannot be called the Nets.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Department of Diverted Attention: Daily News devotes long op-ed to question of Nets' name change

We'll leave it to Norman Oder to suggest more worthy topics.

But, really, is this what deserves extended discussion when the state has failed to hire a community relations rep and extended construction is disturbing neighbors?

NoLandGrab: Well, at least it keeps Nazaryan from writing nonsense about bikes and bike lanes.

Posted by eric at 11:48 AM

October 14, 2011

Nets Move (Offices) To Brooklyn

NetsDaily

The Nets have begun shifting business operations from New Jersey to Brooklyn, with eight staffers moving recently to One MetroTech Center North in Brooklyn, near the Barclays Center. MetroTech is owned by Forest City, Bruce Ratner's company and the developer of the arena.

Officials said the offices are not the Nets' permanent home. The team expects to move all its business operations to the borough early next year, well before the arena opens in September.

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NoLandGrab: What, they couldn't find any State or City agency to take the space?

Posted by eric at 9:08 AM

October 13, 2011

Iannazzone: Nothing would surprise Nets fans

Bergen Record
by Al Iannazzone

The announcement that the NBA would cancel the first two weeks of the regular season probably drew this kind of reaction from Nets fans all over the state: It figures.

Deep down, you had to know that in the Nets’ final season in New Jersey, things would not go smoothly. Why should they when they haven’t in the previous 34 years?

Every team has drama, but it seems the Nets are among the league leaders in that category every season — even when they had some very good years in the early 2000s.

There was Jason Kidd nearly leaving via free agency in 2002; the Alonzo Mourning experiment and experience; the mutiny against former coach Byron Scott after the Nets reached back-to-back NBA Finals; and the sale of the franchise to a real estate developer who cared more about bringing the team to Brooklyn than he did about a championship.

Bruce Ratner isn’t responsible for some of the bad draft picks the Nets made from 2003-2007. But his arrival and some of the subsequent moves led to Kidd souring on the organization, and the Nets haven’t been the same since.

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NoLandGrab: Nor has Prospect Heights.

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

October 11, 2011

First two weeks of NBA regular season canceled in labor strife; commentator says it's not about the fans or the game

Atlantic Yards Report

Writes ESPN's J.A. Adande, in NBA shows it has no game: Why did the league cancel two weeks? Because it plays the fans for fools, mostly:

You haven't heard the fans, or the game itself mentioned much lately, have you? That's because they don't factor into this discussion at all. It was always about people saving themselves: owners asking the players to bail them out of bad business moves, players asking to preserve their cushy status with the highest average salaries among American team sports.

But Bruce Ratner says the under-construction Barclays Center, beneficiary of triple tax-exempt bonds and a fiendishly clever use of PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) to pay off construction, is "largely for the children and youth."

In contrast with Adande, it should be noted, analysts such as Malcolm Gladwell come down firmly on the side of the players.

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NoLandGrab: It's a bit hard for we other 99% to sympathize with either side in this sad battle of greed vs. avarice.

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, NBA Cancels First Two Weeks of Season

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

October 10, 2011

NBA Start Canceled as Talks Yield No Deal

The Wall Street Journal
by Kevin Clark

NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the season after two straight days of last-ditch negotiating failed to resolve the labor dispute.

Mr. Stern said both sides were "very far apart on virtually all issues. ... We just have a gulf that separates us."

The league says it stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars.

The sticking point was how players and owners will split the league's $4 billion in revenue. The National Basketball Association says it's losing $300 million a year, and that 22 of its 30 teams are losing money.

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NoLandGrab: They would have us believe that 22 of 30 NBA teams are losing money, but 30 out of 30 NBA arenas are goldmines for the taxpayers who paid to build them.

This might not be the beginning of the end, but one of these days the pro sports bubble is going to burst, and it ain't going to be pretty.

Posted by eric at 10:33 PM

Putting the Nyet in the New Jersey Nets! Deron Williams . . . Turkey?

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White relates a National Public Radio story about the NBA's labor strife, which featured a description of erstwhile Nets' star Deron Williams's not-so-happy debut for a Turkish squad, and concludes thusly:

I guess I can feel for some poor lonely bloke getting “booed mercilessly” when he is away on foreign soil. Nevertheless, I am not a fan of professional sports in general* and am myself booing mercilessly the construction for the Nets of the Ratner/Prokhorov (“Barclays”) arena, all the wretched connivances behind it and all the public detriment it will bring. If an NBA player’s strike lasts long enough or can otherwise effect a toppling of Messrs. Ratner and Prokhorov’s publicly financed arena bonds I'll be thrilled. When it comes to booing or cheering locales, brownstone Brooklyn is where I don't want to see the Nets' players deployed.

(* See: Friday, September 24, 2010, Sports Culture Capper: Yankees, Professional Sports and Criminals Wearing Yankee Hats.)

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Posted by eric at 10:22 PM

Yessss! Hundreds compete to be Nets announcer

The Brooklyn Paper
by Eli Rosenberg

Ladies and gentlemen, your soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets new announcer is … still undecided.

More than 300 wannabe Bob Sheppards auditioned last Friday to be the new voice of the Barclays Center-bound team — but after hours of tryouts, Nets officials had succeeded in winnowing the field down to 15.

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Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

October 7, 2011

How Brooklyn Nets can reach hipsters

ESPN.com
by Kurt Snibbe

Music mogul Jay-Z, a part-owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets, recently announced that the team will officially become the Brooklyn Nets when it moves to that borough of New York for the 2012-13 season.

In order to appeal to Brooklyn's largest demographic -- its thriving hipster community -- the team will need to develop a marketing campaign targeted to the borough's too-cool-for-everything citizens.

Page 2 offers up a few suggestions ...

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Related coverage...

The L Magazine, How Will the Brooklyn Nets Net Brooklyn Hipsters?

All ESPN's suggestions take the form of phone pole tear-away flyers, and though most are unfunny—like jokes about beards and obscure musical tastes—a couple hit the mark...

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

October 6, 2011

Stoute's Plan to Market the Nets? Kissing Up to Brooklyn

Translation CEO on Borough Pride, City Rivalry and Bruce Ratner as a Modern-Day Robert Moses

Advertising Age
by Kerem Ozkan

Savor this one — it's surely the last time that Brooklyn Nets' adman Steve Stoute will be allowed to speak to the press.

Nets officials have been busy hyping Brooklyn as an iconic globally-recognized brand. Translation Founder-CEO Steve Stoute, whose agency is handling marketing for the team, said the New York City borough is marketing gold. "The power of the Brooklyn brand is so resounding. It means so many things: hard work, gentrification and diversity, music, culture." And while there are still critics upset over the use of eminent domain to make way for the Barclays Center where the team will play, Mr. Stoute said Brooklyn residents should "be ecstatic" about the move.

Honestly, it isn't easy to contain ourselves.

Mr. Stoute talked to Ad Age about the move, the branding and, sure to rile up critics of how the stadium came about, this "gift" from developer Bruce Ratner.

Oh, this ought to be good.

Ad Age: Another factor in all this is that the Atlantic Yards project has been steeped in controversy. What will you say to win the neighborhood over?

Mr. Stoute: I think that there's always going to be people who resist change. It's a human reality. I look at what they had to go through and say it wasn't easy, but it made sense. It was there to improve, to uplift, to contemporize, to bring back sports to the borough. It's the Barclays Center of Brooklyn. It's of the people. This is Bruce Ratner's gift to them. He is our generation's Robert Moses.

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NoLandGrab: Robert Moses? You mean the guy who destroyed neighborhoods by paving them through with highways, displaced thousands and thousands of people, made us slaves to the automobile, ran the Dodgers out of town, and precipitated decades of urban decay? That Robert Moses? Did someone shoot this guy up with truth serum? As far as we can tell, that's the first time anyone selling the public on Atlantic Yards has ever told it like it is. We can almost forgive him all that of-the-people, Bruce's-gift nonsense.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Ratner hires advertising agency. Agency CEO calls him "our generation's Robert Moses."

Norman Oder posted a comment to Ad Age (which, unlike the Brooklyn Paper, hasn't barred him from doing so):

Mr. Stoute may be an able adman, but "Our generation's Robert Moses"? Wow.

Moses is steeped in controversy, but what he built--roads, parks, pools--aimed at the public interest. Bruce Ratner's job is to build projects and make a profit.

"Bruce Ratner's gift to them"? Wow, again. Maybe that would be closer to fact had Ratner paid his own way, but if you add the public subsidies and tax breaks, the arena is a loss to NYC taxpayers, according to the NYC Independent Budget Office.

By the way, it's "eminent domain," not "imminent domain." Thanks to New York State's very flexible definitions of "blight," Ratner was able to get the state to declare a gentrifying zone blighted as a precursor to eminent domain. His cousin Chuck Ratner, then-CEO of parent Forest City Enterprises, called it a "great piece of real estate."

NLG: The article initially referred to the use of "imminent" domain, but was corrected after Mr. Oder pointed out the error. Of course, when Bruce Ratner and the ESDC are involved, "imminent" domain might be more accurate.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner Is "Our Generation's Robert Moses," Minus the Good Stuff

If Mr. Stoute and the Nets think it is a good idea to compare Bruce Ratner to the most notorious power abuser in American urban history, we can't disagree. Although, say what you will about Moses, he did oversee public works, rather than purely self-aggrandizing, for-profit real estate deals.

As for Ratner's munificent "gift" to the people of Brooklyn aching in their stomachs for the return of the Dodgers—when Ratner returns our homes, businesses, streets, tax dollars, zoning laws, democratic processes, and our Constitution we'll be sure to send him a big thank you note.

Posted by eric at 10:00 PM

October 5, 2011

NBA negotiations stall, and a partial season cancellation looms; sportswriters slam owners who gain many advantages beyond the team

Atlantic Yards Report

Why was Jay-Z, owner of a minuscule slice of the Nets, front-and-center at the September 26 promotional event announcing the unsurprising news that the team would be the Brooklyn Nets and he'd open the arena with some concerts.

Why is he the face of a marketing campaign?

Well, not only is he a celebrity, labor negotiations prevent the teams from using any of their players. And now it looks like at least some of the season will be lost.

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Posted by eric at 11:59 AM

October 4, 2011

NBA Lockout Allows Owners To Cheat Fans, Embrace Greed

The NBA lockout will reach a head on Tuesday, all because the league's owners can't get enough money and refuse to prioritize anything over the quest for wealth.

SBNation.com
by Tom Ziller

In the NBA, fans aren't just customers. We are investors. We bankroll the whole operation. Of the $2 billion spent on building and renovating NBA arenas since 2000, $1.75 billion of it has been public money. Without a public willing to play Stern's extortionist games -- ask Seattle what happens if you refuse to build a gym on the league's terms -- the NBA would be hosting its biggest games in rinky-dink arenas, or worse, on college campuses. Instead, the public plays along and bites on the threats, Stern's NBA rakes in $4 billion a year and owners have the luxury of demanding a bigger slice.
...

You wonder how a player like Antoine Walker can go broke after making $108 million in the NBA? Ask how [Phoenix Suns owner Robert] Sarver can do the same thing on a much grander (if less stylish) scale. Ask how the mighty Maloof brothers can crush their family's empire and take a whole city's sports identity down with it. Ask how Bruce Ratner can burn through stacks of money like firewood without even one eye on the product on the court. But the biggest difference is that when Antoine Walker burns his loot, the guy has to shimmy down to Puerto Rico and to the D-League to making a living. He has get back on his feet on hustle. Sarver? He gets a bailout. The Maloofs? They pawn off one of their dad's businesses. Ratner? He remembers that the Nets he lost so much money on were simply Vaseline for a real estate project in Brooklyn that will make his company billions more than an NBA team could ever be worth.

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Posted by eric at 11:09 AM

October 3, 2011

Occupy the NBA!

The Nation
by Dave Zirin

“The purpose of Occupy Wall Street is to reclaim the country from corporate interests. The protesters feel as though their political system has been hijacked by Wall Street's corporations, and as a result their elected officials now serve the interests of the wealthy upper-1 percenters instead of what they call the ‘99 percent.’”- Allison Kilkenny, Citizen Radio

After decades of corporate greed run amok, a viral clarion call has sounded to strike back and “occupy everywhere”. What started as several dozen people saying they would "occupy Wall Street" has become a national movement. Now we have thousands of people who are part of Occupy Boston, Occupy DC, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Las Vegas, even Occupy Nebraska. Now we have labor organizations like the Transit Workers Union and 1199 joining the charge. Now it’s high time to take this movement and bring it to the National Basketball Association. We need to “Occupy the NBA.”

Why not? Do you really want to talk about corporate greed piledriving the interests of “the other 99%”? Look no further than the NBA. The League’s billionaire owners have locked their doors and threatened to cancel the 2011-2012 season following the most lucrative year in league history. They haven’t only locked out the players union, but thousands of low-wage workers – the people cleaning the arenas, parking the cars, and selling the overpriced flat, foamy swill the League calls beer. They've also locked out secretaries and scouts, managers and mascots. Somewhere in Phoenix there's a guy in a gorilla suit with a sign that reads, "Will dunk for food."

It’s Wall Street’s version of the high pick-and-roll, their go-to play: magically turning our tax dollars into their profits. Look at the billions that have gone to NBA arenas while public workers are laid off and the infrastructure of our cities rot. As economist David Berri has noted, $2 billion has gone into building eight new facilities. Of that amount, 84%, $1.75 billion, has come out of our pockets. That number also doesn’t include the $2 billion in tax dollars being funneled into the Atlantic Yards Project for the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets. To David Stern claim that 23 of 30 owners are "losing money" on the NBA, while leaving public subsidies out of his math, only demonstrates his ugly contempt for us 99 percenters.
...

As Henry Abbot wrote on ESPN’s True Hoop blog before being methodically tortured in an undisclosed Bristol, Connecticut safe-house, “So long as taxpayers pay for the stadiums, and players do the work, why, again, do we cut owners in on the deal?”

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Posted by eric at 11:51 AM

October 2, 2011

Jay-Z's offhand comment: "thinking about" moving to Brooklyn but "prices are really high"

Atlantic Yards Report

At a charity auction for his foundation, Jay-Z was briefly interviewed by E Online, which turned it into a 9/20/11 headline, Jay-Z Talks Baby, Moving to Brooklyn, Obama:

Speaking of money, Jay said he may move to Brooklyn like his basketball team, the New Jersey Nets...if he can afford it!

"I have been thinking about it, but the prices over there are really high," he laughed. "It's not like before!"

The Daily News turned that secondhand comment into a headline, Jay-Z: I'm 'thinking about' moving to Brooklyn but 'prices are really high'.

It's hard to believe that wasn't more than an offhand comment, but it's still tone deaf. As one reader commented on E Online:

No way Brooklyn is more expensive than Tribeca!

(Jay-Z has a place in TriBeCa and a house in Scarsdale.)

Or, as a New York Daily News reader commented:

Is he serious! He can afford to buy Brooklyn! Sheesh. People with money cry, while they have a loaf of bread under arm.

Or another:

I am certain Jay-Z was being facetious. With the amount of cash he and his wife have, they could live anywhere. Does anyone actually believe that Brooklyn is more expensive than Manhattan? That's a joke!

Also note how Jay-Z's less than 1% interest in the Nets becomes "his basketball team."

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Posted by steve at 10:36 PM

September 30, 2011

Comic: Gladwell Goes HAM

HoopSpeak.com
by Anthony Bain

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Posted by eric at 12:41 PM

Malcolm Gladwell, in Grantland, gets the Atlantic Yards big picture: "a man buys a basketball team as insurance on a real estate project"

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica was right all along, writing 11/13/05:

If Caring Bruce Ratner is still the owner of the Nets in five years, I'll eat my hat.

...He doesn't want the team.

He never really did.

He wants the land.

After the March 2010 groundbreaking, Lupica commented, "It was a hustle in broad daylight by Caring Bruce Ratner from the start."

Enter Gladwell

That same sentiment comes from New Yorker writer and Grantland contributing editor Malcolm Gladwell, in a 9/26/11 essay in the latter headlined The Nets and NBA Economics: David Stern would have you believe the Brooklyn-bound franchise embodies everything wrong with the league's finances. It's not true.

His conclusion:

The rich have gone from being grateful for what they have to pushing for everything they can get. They have mastered the arts of whining and predation, without regard to logic or shame. In the end, this is the lesson of the NBA lockout. A man buys a basketball team as insurance on a real estate project, flips the franchise to a Russian billionaire when he wins the deal, and then — as both parties happily count their winnings — what lesson are we asked to draw? The players are greedy.

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Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, It's A Tipping Point: Malcolm Gladwell Nails Bruce Ratner on His Trojan Horse Nets

Malcolm Gladwell is about eight years late to the party nonetheless he has penned a must-read column revealing the bogusness of Bruce Ratner the Basketball Man, and how his toying with the Nets exemplifies the absurd notion that NBA owners are suffering financially.

The main point, which has been one of our mantras since DDDB's inception, is that Atlantic Yards has never been about basketball.

Rainman Suite, Even Malcolm Gladwell Thinks Bruce Ratner Is A Scumbag

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a piece on Grantland about the scam Bruce Ratner pulled on New York to get his massive development built in Brooklyn under the guise of moving the Nets and helping the community. It’s been under-the-radar for a long time but I think this is the most informative article I’ve read about the subject.

NoLandGrab: Under-the-what?! You must have missed our 18,000 or so posts on the subject.

Posted by eric at 12:27 PM

September 28, 2011

Two views of the Barclays Center hypemasters: smiling, and grimacing

Atlantic Yards Report

Before the big announcement Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, on his Facebook page, posted Paul Martinka's photo of himself (center), Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner (left), and superstar Jay-Z.

The same day, Tracy Collins captured Jay-Z and Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark looking a little tense.

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Related coverage...

Gothamist, The Time Jay-Z Posed With Marty Markowitz And Bruce Ratner

The newly rechristened Brooklyn Nets are really serious about using Jay-Z as the face of their brand while the Barclays Center continues to rise over the Atlantic Yards. And you know what that means? Stupendously fantastic photo ops, like the one above. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (or whoever runs his Facebook page) captioned this "'Looking up' to Jay-Z (along with Bruce Ratner) outside Barclays Center" but we suspect that you can do better. Have at it in the comments!

Posted by steve at 11:26 AM

From New York magazine: more skepticism toward the Barclays/Nets' claim that they funded a playground renovation

Atlantic Yards Report

From this week's New York magazine (dated Oct. 3), Intelligencer section, another piece of skepticism towards the Barclays/Nets' claim that they had funded a playground in Canarsie. I had the news on 9/20/11, but didn't get a credit.

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Posted by steve at 11:05 AM

Is Keeping the Name ‘Nets’ a Net Loss for Jay-Z and Brooklyn?

The New York Observer

“I asked for two things out of my partners in ownership is that we rename the New Jersey Nets the Brooklyn Nets, and the second one is that I open it with a concert,” Shawn Carter said at a press conference in front of the under-construction Barclays Center yesterday, which made official the team’s name.

Really Jay? One of the best lyricists in hip-hop history, and the best you could come up with was the Brooklyn Nets?

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NoLandGrab: Really New York Observer? With all the issues around Atlantic Yards, the best you could come up with is a discussion of the name "Nets"?

Posted by steve at 11:02 AM

September 27, 2011

How the New Jersey Nets are like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

Billy Paultz Reconsidered
by Mike Gross

Terrific piece here from Malcolm Gladwell on the NBA lockout, and especially the colorful recent business history of the New Jersey Nets.

Gladwell’s overarching point here, and in a previous piece on Grantland, is one I’ve made many times. Pro sports teams are not businesses. They are luxury goods like works of art, yachts, Ferraris or Italian Villas.
...

Consider the Nets’ situation, in which the previous owner, Bruce Ratner, wanted the team as part of a mega-real estate arena project in Brooklyn. A competing offer to buy the property from the city, from a developer named Gary Barnett, would have used less land, been far less intrusive to the existing neighborhood, and would have resulted in just apartment buildings. No arena. No Nets.

Oh: And Barnett’s offer was triple Ratner’s.

Gladwell: “Barnett lost. He never had a chance. He wanted to build apartments. Ratner was restoring the sporting glory lost when the Dodgers fled for Los Angeles.”

article

Related coverage...

Nets Are Scorching, Gladwell on the Nets and NBA Economics

That said, you don’t need financial expertise to detect BS from billionaires, and Ratner laid it on thick today about youth — citing the prospect of a child seeing their first circus at the Barclays Center as his driving inspiration. Come on, Bruce. If this didn’t give you the opportunity to make boatloads of money, you wouldn’t do it. I’m sure that Barclays will do a lot for kids, but it’s not about them.

The sad truth, though, is that Ratner can always pretend otherwise. We can paint him as a greedy, dirty billionaire as much as we want (fair or not), and he’ll remain a billionaire. That’s the game. I’d just rather watch a different one.

NoLandGrab: It's small consolation, but Bruce Ratner, while rich, is by all reports worth considerably less than a billion dollars.

Posted by eric at 12:57 PM

The Brooklyn Nets and The Barf: No News Is...No News

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Not everyone buys the hype, however.

We'll happily let others cover today's non-news news event. That would be the Atlantic Interminable Mall press get-together with "Cultural Icon Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter," eminent domain abuse icon Bruce Ratner, insomnia icon Brett Yormark and hearty handshake and obsolescence icon Marty Markowitz, where the hip hop star announced that after putting their heads together they've decided that the New Jersey Nets would become the...Brooklyn Nets, and that he'd do a few shows at the arena when it opens. (How is it news that the .3% owner of the team will perform in the team's new home? It would be news if he didn't.)
...

We're also betting that there won't ever be a big press event to announce the fulfillment of 10,000 jobs or 2,250 "affordable" housing units.

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Related coverage...

'An I Heard 'Em Say, Sure Jay-Z’s Rich, But He’s Still a Pawn for Really, Really Rich Dudes

And it's not just the usual suspects who aren't buying it.

First, while many are celebrating the arrival of the Nets, they forget that an entire community was essentially evicted to make way for the stadium and Atlantic Yards complex using some very sketchy eminent domain law. Simply put, a lot of every rich and powerful people, lead by real estate developer Bruce Ranter, got together, realized they could make a shit ton of money and tossed out everyone already living there to make room.

Gladwell’s piece is largely about the economics behind the NBA lockout – it’s ridiculous for teams like the Nets to claim they’re losing money and blame players when they’re involved in multi-billion dollar real estate deals – but what really caught my eye was this brief mention of Hova. Here’s Gladwell on Bruce Ratner’s plan to use the Nets, and Jay-Z, to procure some rack on racks on racks:

“Ratner knew this would not be easy. The 14 acres he wanted to raze was a perfectly functional neighborhood, inhabited by taxpaying businesses and homeowners. He needed a political halo, and Ratner’s genius was in understanding how beautifully the Nets could serve that purpose. The minute basketball was involved, Brooklyn’s favorite son — Jay-Z — signed up as a part-owner and full-time booster.”

What really struck me about that paragraph is that while the hip-hop sphere tends to treat Jay-Z like the most powerful man on Earth, it’s a reminder that he’s really just the most powerful man in hip-hop, which really isn’t that powerful. Although a completely willing, and extraordinarily well-payed pawn, Jay’s essentially being used as a pawn here by real estate moguls, Russian billionaires and New York politicians with more money and power than Jay could ever dream of.

Posted by eric at 12:24 PM

More Non-News About the Brooklyn (Same-Old) Nets and Jay-Z

The Brooklyn Paper, Jay-Z confirms that he’ll christen the Barclays Center

Park Slope Patch, Jay-Z To Kick Off Barclays Center Opening In 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Jay-Z Wants You to Meet the Brooklyn Nets

NY1, Rapper Jay-Z Announces Barclays Concerts

NY Post, Jay-Z says team to be renamed Brooklyn Nets

And we saved the best for last. OMG!

NY Post, Jay-Z will design jersey for new-look Brooklyn Nets

He’s not only part-owner of the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets — he’s helping design their uniforms, too.

Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

September 24, 2011

Urban Parent Expo today: lead sponsor is Barclays/Nets

Atlantic Yards Report

The Urban Parent Expo, held today at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, has a Platinum Sponsor: the Barclays Center/Brooklyn Nets.

(Hm, not sure if that team name is official yet.)

The activities include:

  • Brooklyn NETS Basketball & Conditioning Activities (Show your basketball skills with conditioning drills and exciting contests!)
  • NETS Airbrush Tattoo Artist (Free NETS airbrush tattoos)
  • NETS Dancers (Enjoy a performance, learn some moves and get an autograph.)
  • Team Hype & Sly the Mascot

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NoLandGrab: The Nets Dancers must be there to help build self-esteem in girls.

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

September 22, 2011

Q&A: ‘Anything Good You Can Find In This Country, You Can Find In Brooklyn’ — Brett Yormark

The Big Lead
by Barry Janoff

He's baaaaaack! Here are some "highlights" from Part Two of The Big Lead's interview with Brett Yormark.

Big Lead Sports: What reaction have you gotten to using the name Brooklyn?

Brett Yormark: We have done a lot of research. We know how important the brand of Brooklyn is. My feeling is that anything good you can find in this country, you can find in Brooklyn. We went out and tested the pickles, the knishes, the cheesecake, and the best of the best will be here. The main thing about Brooklyn from a marketing point of view is the diversification. It’s a marketer’s dream to be able to target so many ethnic groups that help to make the borough what it is. Our responsibility, our job is to make sure that everyone is welcomed at the Barclays Center. And that we communicate with each of them in a relevant way.

Tested the pickles? The Nets are the Good Housekeeping Research Institute of the NBA.

BLS: You have college hockey coming to Barclays Center, so it can be converted into a hockey arena. Any interest in having the New York Islanders move in?

BY: Let me just say that we can convert it to a hockey venue and have a great destination for professional hockey. And although it is not legalized in New York State, we can handle MMA when and if it is legalized.

Mixed Martial Arts is a sophisticated sport that draws a nice crowd. Why not?

BLS: Back at the Izod Center, you were able to take unused or under-utilized spaces and turn them into proactive real estate that brought in revenue. But you’ve built Barclays Center from scratch. Will you miss uncovering long-hidden areas that you can turn into assets?

BY: It’s funny you should ask that. Every month, I sit down with my GM and I ask him to walk me though the building [on the blueprints]. Every time I look at it on paper, I see a different space that I hadn’t seen. I’m auditing the building for inventory and opportunities all the time. Our building is about 670,000 square feet, and I think it’s fair to say that we will effectively use every square inch for something.

Wait, didn't he say yesterday that sponsors "don’t want clutter?"

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Brett Yormark interview: no over-commercialization of the arena (?!), project on schedule, Brooklyn brand will be hyped, "professional hockey" viable

The $400 million fantasy

It's not the most incisive interview. The first installment included the discredited claim that the Barclays naming rights agreement was worth $400 million, not $200 million, and, despite my comment appended to that report, the claim continued to appear in the second installment.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

September 21, 2011

Q&A: For Brett Yormark, CEO Of The Nets And Barclays Center, No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn

The Big Lead
by Barry Janoff

And now, for the entertainment portion of today's blogging — Brett Yormark rarely fails to disappoint.

In the first of a two-part interview, Brett Yormark, CEO of Nets Basketball and president and CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, spoke with Big Lead Sports about basketball, Brooklyn and the Barclays Center.

Here are some highlights.

Big Lead Sports: What are the major challenges between now and September 2012?

Brett Yormark: My toughest challenge is that there won’t be an opportunity to sleep. I don’t sleep that much to begin with, but now there will be even less time. I say that kiddingly. But, obviously, there is so much to do.

BLS: In addition to Barclays, which has a 20-year, $400 million naming rights deal, you have 12 founding and top-tier partners. Do you envision room for more corporate partners?

BY: We have an incredible base of partners. But we are still aggressively marketing and selling. There are some key categories that we are finishing off: insurance, auto, airline, to be specific. We should be able to close those out and make announcements within the next 30-40 days. That said, our philosophy in Brooklyn when it comes to the commercialization of the building is that less is more. So we are not going to overdo it.

[Editor's Note: Yormark failed to correct the 100% inflation of the naming-rights fees.]

BLS: Have there been discussions with the NBA about hosting an All-Star Game?

BY: Let me put it this way: We are in the big event business, and the All-Star Game certainly would be classified as a big event. Our goal is to be aggressive to host every big event that we can.

In addition to big events, the Nets also host Nets games.

This is just Part One of a two-part interview. Stay tuned!

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Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

September 18, 2011

Nets expect most but not all contracted revenues in hand by arena opening

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote 9/8/11 that, according to the latest Forest City Enterprises press release, "Approximately 56 percent of forecasted contractually obligated revenues for the arena are currently under contract."

That, I pointed out, was up from 51% a year ago, which suggested slow progress.

Mike Ozanian of the Forbes SportsMoney blog tweeted 9/12/11, "Nets say they will not have contracts for all contractually obligated revenue when Brooklyn arena opens 9-12. Say will have 'most sold.'"

NetsDaily yesterday:

All that [progress] said, the Nets still have some challenges at the arena. Only Approximately 56 percent of "forecasted contractually obligated revenues" for the arena are currently under contract. That includes naming rights, sponsorships, suite licenses, Nets minimum rent, and food concession agreements. Only about half the 104 suites are sold. The lockout can't be helping.

link

Posted by steve at 11:00 PM

August 23, 2011

Revised TV deal for Nets doubles current rate, worth at least $200 million; yet another factor ignored in the cost-benefit analyses

Atlantic Yards Report

From NetsDaily:

Sports Business Journal reports that the Nets and YES have quietly settled their local TV rights dispute with the Nets receiving a big bump-up --about double what the team received this seaons-- and YES retaining the Nets' rights through 2031-32, a ten year extension of their original deal.

The Nets will receive $20 million a year immediately with increases through the end of the deal. Previously, the Nets were receiving about half that figure, putting them near the bottom of NBA local rights deals. The Nets have had the lowest local TV ratings the last two seasons, but the move to Brooklyn should improve them.

In other words, a new arena, in Brooklyn, is worth a lot--if $20 million a year immediately nearly doubles the current take, that's $200 million over ten years, and likely more, given that increases continue.
...

Bottom line: gains to the public are speculative (and, to the IBO, losses to the city are likely), while gains to the developer and team are far more certain.

link

NoLandGrab: No doubt about 95% of that 100% increase can be chalked up to Kim Kardashian.

Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

August 1, 2011

Owner Profiles: Atlantic Division

HoopsWorld
by Jason Fleming

New Jersey Nets – Mikhail Prokhorov

Ownership Group: Prokhorov owns an 80% stake in the Nets. Bruce Ratner, the previous owner, has the majority of the remaining 20%, with the rest owned by Sean "Jay-Z" Carter.
Purchase Price (year): $260 million (2010)
2010 Forbes Valuation: $312 million
2010 Forbes Revenue: $89 million
Education: Bachelor's, State Institute of Moscow
...

Notable Team Achievements: The Nets won just 12 games in 2009-10, but doubled that total to 24 in 2010-11.

link

NoLandGrab: Wow, doubled their win total! Impressive. Unless Prokohrov bought out all the other minority owners brought in by Ratner, there should be numerous other names on the list of ownership stakes.

Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

July 22, 2011

Casinos, gaming and horses, oh my!

Real estate moguls look to win in a new field

The Real Deal
by Michael Stoler

Becoming successful in real estate is not easy. Not only does it take a stomach for risk, it also takes the ability to bounce back from failed projects -- as many are trying to do now.

But once real estate executives achieve a certain level of success, they often seem to branch out to other areas of business.
...

Over the last decade, a number of successful real estate leaders have also been investing in their hobbies -- which include big moneymakers like baseball and football. Fred Wilpon, head of real estate investment firm Sterling Equities Associates (and more recently, a Madoff victim), is the principal owner of the New York Mets. In February 2008, Related's Ross famously purchased 50 percent of the Miami Dolphins football team, its venue Dolphin Stadium and the surrounding land from Wayne Huizenga for $550 million. A year later, he completed his purchase of 95 percent of the franchise for $1 billion.

Meanwhile, Bruce Ratner is the minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, after heading up an ownership group that paid $300 million in 2004.

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NoLandGrab: Yes, Bruce Ratner was investing in his hobby, alright — his hobby being subsidy- and land-grabbing.

Posted by eric at 9:38 AM

July 21, 2011

The Devils Hired WHO? And the Last New Jersey NBA Schedule

Uncle Mike's Musings

Uncle Mike is not amused.

Also, the NBA schedule has been released -- a rather optimistic gesture, considering that, like the NFL, the league has officially locked its players out.
...

The last home game of the regular season – and, most likely, the last game the team will ever play under the name “the New Jersey Nets,” unless they somehow make the Playoffs – will be on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, an 8:00 start, against the Chicago Bulls. Swell, a good team. Way to set up a victory in the team's finale, boys.

Why do I still care? Bruce Ratner can go f**k himself for all I care, and if Mikhail Prokhorov can't see that Newark can be every bit as good a basketball city as Brooklyn, then he can go f**ksky himself with a cold Siberian pitchfork.

Your New Jersey teams, ladies and gentlemen. Oy...

link

Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

July 12, 2011

Etude de cas: les Nets ont-ils perdu 44 millions de dollars?

Basket USA
by Julien Bordet

The Nets and Bruce Ratner sound much less offensive en Francais, n'est-ce pas?

La bataille de chiffres se poursuit entre joueurs et propriétaires.

Est-ce que la ligue est en aussi mauvaise position que Stern et les propriétaires veulent bien le dire, ou utilisent-ils des artifices comptables pour masquer le fait que tout va très bien pour eux.

Pour tenter de se faire une idée plus précise, Darren Rovell de NBC a récupéré les comptes des Nets à l’époque où Bruce Ratner en était encore le propriétaire. Les comptes étaient alors publics.

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Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

July 8, 2011

Nets guard Deron Williams agrees in principal to deal with team in Turkey as NBA lockout continues

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy and Mitch Lawrence

Deron Williams may still represent the future of Brooklyn basketball. But if the NBA lockout continues, he'll be better known as the trailblazer in Istanbul.

In a bold move that adds a new wrinkle to labor negotiations and may further complicate a delicate situation with his team, the Nets point guard has agreed to become the first superstar to play overseas and thumb his nose at the lockout.

Williams reached a deal with an ambitious team in the Turkish League, Besiktas, the same squad that last year signed Allen Iverson. The contract allows him to return to the NBA when the lockout ends.

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NoLandGrab: They mean if the lockout ends. And he doesn't suffer a career-ending knee injury.

Posted by eric at 12:20 PM

Exclusive: Recent New Jersey Nets Books Reveal Huge Losses

CNBC
by Darren Rovell

News flash! Under Bruce Ratner's stewardship, the woeful New Jersey Nets lost a lot of money.

The biggest battle in the NBA lockout right now might be the public relations battle. Are the losses the owners are claiming real or fictional?
...

Not many teams have balance sheets that are publicly available, but there is one team whose balance sheets anyone can view and it happens to be a team that at least claims to have lost a ton of money.

With that in mind, we were provided the financial statements of Nets Sports & Entertainment LLC, that included the finances of New Jersey Nets properties in 2009 and 2010 (through June 30). The team was owned through April of 2010, by Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies.

If you go through the report, audited by PWC, and you understand how the NBA reported what was in this document to the Players Association, you will understand that it's not out of the realm of possibility that the league's owners were losing north of $300 million for years.
...

For the 2008-09 season, the documents reflect that the Nets lost $77,227,184.

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NoLandGrab: The news that the Nets lose big money isn't news. Also not news is that NBA owners and players disagree about how losses (or profits) are measured, which is at the core of negotiations over a new NBA collective-bargaining agreement.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, CNBC analysis: even if the Nets lost $44 milion, not $77 million, it suggests NBA losses (but what about the new arena?)

CNBC's analysis of Nets Sports and Entertainment Consolidated Financial Statements for the years ending June 30, 2010 and 2009 (embedded below) is billed as an "exclusive," but the exclusive, I believe, is the analysis, not the documents, which were made available to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to CNBC Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell's analysis, even if the team's claimed $77.2 million loss in 2008-09 is overstated, a more realistic $44 million figure could be used to back claims of NBA losses.
...

I'd suggest an additional conclusion: the new arena will help the team do much, much better.

Atlantic Yards Report, Nets financials point to 11% loan from Prokhorov, 5% (minimum) development fee to Forest City for arena

The document describes the loan between Brooklyn Arena Holding Company (ArenaHoldCo) and entities controlled by Mikhail Prokhorov (MP Entities) that filled an arena financing gap. The loan was reported back in May 2010, but not, to my knowledge, that it bore a junk-bond level interest rate of 11%:

On May 12, 2010, ArenaHoldCo entered into a loan agreement with an affiliate of the MP Entities in the amount of $75,842,086 (the “Loan”). The Loan bears interest at 11% per annum, compounded monthly and matures on June 12, 2013. Both interest and principal are due at maturity. As of June 30, 2010, accrued interest on the loan of $1,162,947 is recorded as part of the Loan from affiliate and has been capitalized to Land and Arena under construction.
A fee equal to $1,000,000 is due on the date the Loan is paid in full, or a pro-rated portion on the date of any partial repayment of the Loan, which is recorded in Accounts payable — affiliates. In the event the Loan is not paid upon maturity, the Loan converts into an equity position in Brooklyn Arena based on a stipulated formula.

So if ArenaHoldCo, which is controlled by Forest City Enterprises, does not pay Prokhorov back, his share in the arena would be converted to equity (as has been reported).

Ratner gets at least 5%

Since July 2007, when the Times reported it, we've known that Forest City Ratner would get a development fee of 5%. This document suggests the fee could be somewhat more:

Developer Agreement
On June 1, 2005, Brooklyn Arena entered into a Development Agreement with an affiliate (the “Developer”), pursuant to which the Developer will plan, develop and oversee construction of the Arena for a fee not to exceed the lesser of $7,000,000 per year or 5% of the total project cost at completion. Through June 30, 2010, $35,000,000 of development fees have been incurred and capitalized to Land and Arena under construction.
...

Forest City likely would earn much more, especially if it can cut costs via modular construction and continue to finagle low-cost financing from immigrant investors.

NBC Sports, Books show Nets with $44 million loss in 2008-09 season

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

July 7, 2011

Yormark Says Nets To Move Team HQ to Brooklyn "Late Next Spring"

NetsDaily

In a tweet late Wednesday, Brett Yormark said Nets executive offices will move to Brooklyn "late next spring" and that he had "Just finished looking at office space in brooklyn for the nets". The team will likely wait until after the season --and playoffs-- before relocating.

For the Nets, that means after the regular season, if by some long shot there is an NBA season.

A spokesman said Yormark visited a site in Brooklyn Heights, adding he's looking at several but wouldn't speak to specifics. Bruce Ratner's buildings are likely high on Yormark's list.

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NoLandGrab: If by "likely high" they mean "the only ones," then yes, that would be true, given Bruce Ratner's need to try to fill his surplus of office space.

Posted by eric at 10:39 AM

July 1, 2011

NBA lockout could jeopardize next season, affect composition of the Nets

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder rounds up coverage of the NBA lockout. Which set of multi-millionaires will blink first?

While a strike jeopardizing construction of the Atlantic Yards arena has been averted, the next NBA basketball season--or, perhaps, just part of the off-season--could be in jeopardy, as collective bargaining talks broke down.

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Posted by eric at 7:17 PM

Exclusive: How (And Why) An NBA Team Makes A $7 Million Profit Look Like A $28 Million Loss

Deadspin
by Tommy Craggs

Deadspin takes a fascinating look at how pro sports franchises "lose" money while actually making money. And what team do they use for their example of flim-flamming? Bet you'll never guess.

We've excerpted part of the article, but the whole thing is well worth a read.

We've obtained audited financial data for the New Jersey Nets covering the three fiscal years from June 2003 to June 2006. Though the numbers end five years ago, you can still see the roots of the argument that will have NBA owners, come midnight, again locking out their players. You can also see how a team makes money and how it pretends not to be making any money at all.

It's not hard to see the benefits. Owners who've set themselves up as a partnership or a Subchapter S corporation can pass their "losses" onto their personal income tax forms. Let's assume that's what the Nets owners did, and let's put them in the 33 percent tax bracket. (The audit here covers the last year that Lewis Katz and Ray Chambers owned the team, the fiscal year ending in June 2004. In August 2004, six years after buying the Nets, they sold the franchise for $300 million to real estate developer Bruce Ratner. In 2009, Ratner sold an 80 percent share to a Rocky and Bullwinkle character named Mikhail Prokhorov for $293 million in equity.) That $27.6 million loss would mean tax savings of $9.1 million ($27.6 x .33).

If we're trying to arrive at some idea of how much money the Nets really made in 2004, we'll need to do a little crude math. Knock out the $25.1 million RDA — a paper loss, remember — and add the $9.1 million in tax savings. Suddenly, that $27.6 million loss becomes a $6.6 million profit.
...

Bruce Ratner's ownership group took over in fall 2004, and the Nets became a small piece of Forest City's $12 billion portfolio. This includes the Atlantic Yards land grab in Brooklyn, the future home of the Nets and the best explanation for why a buccaneering real estate developer like Ratner might buy a middling franchise like the Nets in the first place. As Neil deMause, co-author of Field of Schemes, explains: "If Ratner had gone to Brooklyn politicians and said, 'Hey, I want to build offices and residential buildings on public land,' they'd have hung up on him. But when he says, 'I'm going to bring professional sports back to Brooklyn,' suddenly here's [Brooklyn Borough President] Marty Markowitz holding press conferences and sobbing about the Dodgers. [Buying the Nets] helped him get a foot in the door with Brooklyn politicians."

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Related coverage...

The Star-Ledger, Report says Nets made money in 2004, despite what the team's books said

According to the story, the Nets claimed to lose $27.6 million in 2003-04, when the team actually made a profit of nearly $7 million.

The team took advantage of a 1959 law that allowed them to reduce its tax obligation by $25 million under something called the roster depreciation allowance (RDA) which says that players, once signed to contracts, begin to depreciate almost immediately, a little bit like new cars, whose value dips the minute they are driven off the sales lot. According to the story, once you eliminate the $25 million RDA, and add the $9.1 million in tax savings the RDA got them, the team earned about $6.6 million in profit.

ESPN.com, Is the NBA really losing money?

The [NBA] contends that 22 of the 30 teams are losing money, to the tune of about $370 million per season collectively. The individual team owners are seeking a complete overhaul of the league's financial model, and have submitted proposals to the players that feature a $45 million hard cap and rollbacks to existing salaries (reductions in existing contracts of 15 percent to 25 percent, based on the players' starting salary) -- a proposal the players association termed "a non-starter." They have also discussed an alternative in which salaries are pegged near their present levels, so the players' share of revenues declines over time as revenues increase over the next 10 years.

That sounds exactly like Bruce Ratner "negotiating" with construction unions.

"There has been ongoing debate and disagreement regarding the numbers, and we do not agree that the stated loss figures reflect an accurate portrayal of the financial health of the league," Hunter said in a statement released during the All-Star break.

The players association contends that a significant portion of the losses is merely an accounting artifact, and doesn't reflect an actual operating loss.

"There might not be any losses at all. It depends on what accounting procedure is used," Hunter said. "If you decide you don't count interest and depreciation, you already lop off 250 [million] of the 370 million dollars."

Atlantic Yards Report, Deadspin: Nets exemplify how basketball team owners use paper losses to mask profits (also see ESPN analysis of sale price)

Larry Coon of ESPN.com adds some analysis:

Brooklyn Basketball (the Nets' parent company) paid $361 million for the team. In order for the balance sheet to balance, it had to show assets in that amount. Some of these are real, physical assets; accounts receivable; and the like. Other parts are "intangible" assets, which represent the amount the buyer paid above the value of the tangible assets. These assets (but not the franchise itself) are amortized over their "useful lives," with a portion of their value (a total of $200 million for the Nets) counted as an operating expense each year. For the Nets this expense added up to $41.5 million in 2005 and $40.2 million in 2006.

In other words, $41.5 million of the Nets' $49 million operating loss in 2005, and $40.2 million of its $57.4 million in 2006, is there simply to make the books balance. It is part of the purchase price of the team, being expensed each year. This doesn't mean they cooked their books, or that they tried to pull a fast one on the players. It is part of the generally accepted accounting practice to transfer expenses from the acquisition to the profit and loss over a certain time period. However, it's an argument that doesn't hold water in a discussion with Hunter and the players association, who would claim that the Nets didn't really "lose" a combined $106.4 million in those two years, but rather that they lost $7.5 million and $17.2 million, respectively.

...Unless the players can share in the profit when a team is sold, they don't want to be burdened with the costs associated with buying the team in the first place. And if they don't have a say in the team's management decisions, they don't want to pay the cost when those decisions go awry.

Posted by eric at 6:48 PM

June 22, 2011

The Nets Take Their Pitch to Brooklyn

The Wall Street Journal
by Amara Grautski

Guess what, Brooklynites! That ennui you've been feeling is your inability, after 50-odd years, to get over the Dodgers.

Given that only 8% of the Nets' 2010-11 season-ticket holders hail from Brooklyn, the team has work to do before it begins play next year at its new home, the under-construction Barclays Center. Not surprisingly, the Nets are hard at work making themselves visible. Let the handshaking and baby-kissing begin.

The team has put up seven billboards and has sent its envoys out to make a spate of public appearances. In March, there was a clinic hosted by center Brook Lopez at Bushwick High School. On June 9, Johnson read the book "Salt in His Shoes" to a group of children at the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

And on Friday, joined by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, former Nets center Darryl Dawkins participated in, perhaps, the acme of the team's public relations attack: a tree-donating ceremony in Fort Greene Park.
...

Although Brooklyn residents and business owners account for 40% of the 2012-13 Nets premium season tickets sold thus far, there's no guarantee the efforts of the Barclays-Nets Community Alliance (which invests $1 million per year in local non-profits) and other displays of affection will grow a fan base.

The borough has yet to recover from the relocation of its beloved Dodgers and the demolition of Ebbets Field—Brooklyn Dodgers T-shirts and hats are still worn at Cyclones games.

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NoLandGrab: And all those Che Guevara t-shirts are worn by people who still haven't recovered from the Cuban Revolution.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Cliche alert: Wall Street Journal says Brooklyn "has yet to recover" from loss of Dodgers and Ebbets Field

The wearing of historical shirts and hats is evidence more of homage than of wound. But boosters of the team's move, including Nets Sports and Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark, like to make the connection.

To repeat... As I wrote in March 2009, Michael D’Antonio's revisionist biography of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, put Dodgers nostalgia in perspective, blaming it on Roger Kahn’s book The Boys of Summer.

The Dodgers left in 1957.

Posted by eric at 1:29 PM

June 21, 2011

Nets start planting roots in Brooklyn (we mean that literally)

The Brooklyn Paper
by Natalie O'Neill

Really? This is a story?

The Brooklyn-bound basketball continues to pitch itself as a good neighbor, this time by promising to donate hundreds of trees to the borough.

In September, the team will plant 300 oaks and maples in open spaces around the borough — like in Fort Greene Park — as part of its “Trees for Threes” effort, which matches one tree with every three-point shot made during the team’s 24-58 season.

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NoLandGrab: They'll need to plant about three million trees to offset all the carbon emissions that their traffic-choking arena will generate.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The Brooklyn Paper covers an Atlantic Yards story (it's about tree-planting)

The Brooklyn Paper comes a little late to the media event June 17 that was the tree-planting sponsored by the Nets and the Barclays Center, but there's a story today headlined Nets start planting roots in Brooklyn (we mean that literally).

Last week, as I pointed out, the newspaper neglected to cover three Atlantic Yards-related meetings, though today's story does mention the lingering anger (which the newspaper first wrote about last month) over planned traffic changes.

Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

June 16, 2011

Lebron James Victim of Racial Double Standard

BeyondChron
by Randy Shaw

While team owners betray loyal fans by relocating franchises to maximize profits, and players routinely sell their services to the highest bidder, the nation’s sports fans have instead concluded that Lebron James’ move from Cleveland to Miami makes him the worst person in the world. The unrelenting attacks on James over the past year reached a crescendo during the NBA finals, with criticism of almost everything about him reaching unprecedented levels. No white sports star has ever been subjected to such abuse.

That seems a little much. James has been criticized primarily for basically disappearing in the fourth quarters of games (one joke making the rounds goes "I pulled a LeBron and left work 12 minutes early") and for his classless parodying of Dirk Nowitzki's illness.

This, however, we can agree with:

How about the New Jersey Nets, whose billionaire Russian owner has not been criticized for moving a team out of struggling Newark as part of a massive gentrification scheme centered in the Atlantic Yards section of Brooklyn. This too is all about greed, but the predominant white sports community could not care less about primarily African-American Newark losing its only pro sports franchise (and the jobs it brings).

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Posted by eric at 12:10 PM

June 14, 2011

Will Barclays get naming rights to Brooklyn schoolyards too?

Atlantic Yards Report

Apparently the Barclays Nets Community Alliance, which has contributed funds to the nonprofit Out2Play to rehab school playgrounds, also gets signage, as Patch reports, following up news reported earlier by Pardon Me for Asking (which has photos too).

It's a local version of the naming rights Barclays bought for the Atlantic Yards arena (after the state gave naming rights away) and Forest City Ratner bought for Barclays at the Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street transit hub.

P.S. 58 in Carroll Gardens has a nice new playground (right; click to enlarge). Some parents are dismayed at the signs advertising Barclays, and some aren't.

Public funds, private layer

I'd point out that, when Out2Play seeks individual donations, they don't advertise the possibility of getting your name on a school playground. That must be reserved for bigger donors.

Out2Play explains:

Every dollar we raise from the private sector often translates into nine dollars in public funding. Each of our playspaces costs an average of $250,000.

How much did Barclays give to P.S. 58? I haven't checked, but would note that the initial $150,000 grant was supposed to help refurbish eight playgrounds.

That's less than $20,000 a playground--pretty good if you get a sign out of it too.

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Related coverage...

Pardon Me For Asking, What's The Deal With Barclays Signs On PS 58 Schoolyard Fence?

...whatever monies Barclays coughed up shouldn't give the bank the right to turn a schoolyard into a place for advertisement. What's next? McDonald signs? It's kind of a slippery slope.

Posted by eric at 10:07 AM

June 10, 2011

With new Brooklyn Nets website, promoters invoke expected Brooklyn icons: Dodgers, Brooklyn Bridge, Peter Luger

Atlantic Yards Report

A new Brooklyn Nets website, essentially confirming the (not much in doubt) fact that the team will be renamed the Brooklyn Nets, heralds the move:

On September 28th, 2012, Brooklyn will become the official home of NETS Basketball. The most populous of New York’s five boroughs, Brooklyn is home to nearly 2.6 million others as well. It is a borough rich in culture, and diversity. And while Brooklyn is well-known for its history, the future is bright.

Through this blog, we will get to know our future home. From its many neighborhoods, to its notable monuments, museums, parks, and restaurants, we’ll explore it all.

There's nothing about the new Battle for Brooklyn documentary, of course, but there are obligatory citations of the Brooklyn Bridge and Peter Luger steakhouse.

link

Related content...

Nets Basketball, Welcome to Brooklyn

Posted by eric at 10:16 AM

Nets' Big Losses Continue ... Even Beyond Prokhorov's Cushion

NetsDaily

As part of his agreement to buy the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov agreed to fund team losses in New Jersey for up to two years and up to $60 million. Forest City Enterprises, Bruce Ratner's parent company, said Monday losses continue and exceed Prokhorov's guarantee. So, FCE will have to fund them as it did in the past.

FCE's new CEO David LaRue said "entities controlled by Mikhail Prokhorov committed to fund up to $60 million of the team's losses from acquisition to the completion of the arena. We now anticipate that $60 million cap will be reached sometime in the second [current] quarter of the year, at which point Nets Sports and Entertainment, the ownership group of which we are the managing member, will need to fund the overage."

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NoLandGrab: Here's betting that the NBA's first Russian owner is wishing he was the NBA's first Cuban owner.

Posted by eric at 9:19 AM

June 8, 2011

Behind the calculated noisemaking at NBA arenas, technology for amplification

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on why you really, really ought to wear earplugs if you attend an NBA game.

...yesterday, in an article headlined Stoking Excitement, Arenas Pump Up the Volume, the New York Times reported that such hype is standard practice:

At sporting events across the nation, and in the N.B.A. in particular, noise has become a part of the show — rarely more so than in Dallas, where the Mavericks face the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the N.B.A. finals Tuesday night. It is hard to tell if the Mavericks’ favorite machine during these playoffs is Dirk Nowitzki, their star player, or their sound system.

The Mavericks’ equipment involves more than simply pumping up decibels to levels that some experts fear could contribute to long-term hearing loss. Rather, with fans spoiled by earbud fidelity and 5.1-channel home theater systems, owners like the Mavericks’ Mark Cuban have turned hosting a game into producing an event — with “assisted resonance” and “crowd enhancement,” buzzwords for insiders and euphemisms for others.

Sixty mammoth speakers hanging above the court thunder music and clamorous sound effects louder than a jumbo jet engine.

article

NoLandGrab: Residents living near the Barclays Center are even more concerned about what the noise will be like outside the arena.

Posted by eric at 7:06 AM

June 6, 2011

New Jersey Nets intend to provide NBA fans in Brooklyn with cheaper alternative to New York Knicks

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

While the owner of the Knicks is confusing and frustrating his team's supporters, the opposition is gearing up for a run at the city's basketball fan base.

Such is the state of the turf war as an arena rises in Brooklyn, representing the first legitimate threat to the Knicks' territory in 65 years.

The Nets, specifically minority owner Bruce Ratner and CEO Brett Yormark, claim there are enough basketball fans in the city to support two pro teams, professing their respect for the Knicks about a year removed from angering Jim Dolan by hanging a giant billboard above the Garden.
...

But there's a reason the Barclays Center was designed to be the Garden's opposite: the Nets want to be the alternative to the Knicks, not their New York City sidekick, and certainly not the same second-class citizen from across the river. There may be a lot of basketball fans in New York, but not as many who will buy tickets and merchandise. And with the Knicks raising their ticket prices about 50% for next season, the Nets are promoting themselves as the cheaper alternative just five miles away.

article

NoLandGrab: "Cheaper" is a relative term, since the New York Post reported in March that the average Nets ticket price would be $132 and "are expected to be among the NBA’s highest in their inaugural season in Brooklyn."

Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

June 1, 2011

Nets Pitch Self-Contained Brooklyn Arena. Sure, That'll Be Great for the Neighborhood

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

We repost this in full from our friends at DDDB.

$99 - $1,500 tickets to see the Nets? That's affordable? Don't worry, on StubHub they will be.

From the Times:

2012-13 Nets Begin Pitching Premium Seats

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn still lacks a roof, seats and a basketball court. But the Nets are already pitching their fans on tickets in their new home, which is expected to open in September 2012.

On Thursday the Nets will begin selling "all-access" tickets to the general public, which include unlimited food and drink. About 4,400 seats in the lower bowl will be included, with tickets from $99 to $1,500. Nets season-ticket holders in these seats will also get first crack at tickets to other events, including concerts, boxing and college basketball.

"We want customers to come for more than the Nets," said Fred Mangione, the chief marketing officer of the Nets. "For us, the question is how we add value."
...

Tickets will include unlimited food and drink and the customers will come "for more than the Nets." Sounds to us like this doesn't bode well for sports bars and clubs that are clamoring to open up next to the arena.

And the unlimited drinks don't bode well for the stoops, sidewalks and olfactories in the surrounding neighborhoods.

...The Nets are introducing a new advertising campaign to jump-start their ticket sales. The ads will include pictures of Brooklyn landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and Coney Island. Famous Brooklyn natives will also appear in the ads.

We'll be very interested to see which ones, but we're sure Nelson George won't be one of them.

link

Related content...

Off the Dribble (New York Times NBA Blog), 2012-13 Nets Begin Pitching Premium Seats

Posted by eric at 4:53 PM

May 11, 2011

Foul! Nets pitch tickets to leader of B'klyn arena opposition

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

He’s likely the last person on Earth who’d buy Nets tickets, but that didn’t stop the club from attempting a full-court press to sell him season passes at its new Brooklyn arena.

Daniel Goldstein – yes, the same guy considered the public face of the opposition movement against the under-construction Barclays Center and the rest of the embattled Atlantic Yards project – got a shocking e-mail yesterday from the Nets marketing department.

Dubbed, “Exclusive Brooklyn Opportunity,” the email asks the co-founder of the Atlantic Yards opposition group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn to consider buying season passes for some of 4,000 "All-Access" premium seats now on sale for the 18,000-seat arena.

Obviously, the marketing employee who sent the email had no clue who Goldstein is.
...

“I once had a prime spot right there without buying tickets, but they took that away from me. Besides, I like the Knicks,” Goldstein told the Post.

article

Posted by eric at 11:02 AM

May 10, 2011

Exclusive Brooklyn Opportunity!

Looks like Brett Yormark's marketing machine — like his basketball team — needs a little fine tuning complete and total overhaul! The following email was forwarded to us today by a former Atlantic Yards footprint resident of some note.

From: xxxxxx@brooklynnets.com
Date: May 10, 2011 3:13:46 PM EDT
To: Daniel Goldstein
Subject: Exclusive Brooklyn Opportunity

Dear Mr. Goldstein,

I hope you are well. I was unable to reach you over the phone before and as I know you are interested in the NETS exciting relocation I wanted to ensure you are aware that sports and entertainment will be returning to Brooklyn after a fifty-five year absence.

My name is xxxxxxx xxxxx, and I will be your direct contact at the Barclays Center of Brooklyn, opening 2012.

We have partnered with leaders in the entertainment and hospitality industry including Live Nation Entertainment, Golden Boy Boxing, Legardere Unlimited, IMG College and Feld Entertainment. The Barclays Center will feature 6 exclusive clubs & restaurants with upscale food and beverage offerings from award winning Levy Restaurants.

I would like to set-up a time for us to discuss all of the great opportunities within the Barclays Center of Brooklyn. Please let me know the best time to reach you.

Thank you,

xxxxxxx

xxxxxxx xxxxx
Premium All Access Manager
NETS Basketball
The New York Times Building
620 8th Avenue, 38th Floor
New York, NY 10018

NoLandGrab: Perhaps the Nets' Premium All Access Manager was unable to reach Mr. Goldstein "over the phone before" because his phone is buried under piles of rubble created by the former majority owner of the team she works for! We're pretty sure never will be a good time for her to reach Mr. Goldstein.

Posted by eric at 5:27 PM

May 2, 2011

The charity strategy: Barclays/NETS Community Alliance now giving to Brooklyn Steppers, Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote last June how the Barclays/Nets Community Alliance had not only given donations to playgrounds and to the Brooklyn Historical Society, it had begun to support the Brooklyn Public Library's summer reading program.

Let's add a few more recipients to the growing list. On April 17, as the graphic at right indicates, the Brooklyn Steppers drumline--a stalwart at Atlantic Yards events, by the way--held a fundraiser, the Battle of the Drumlines, featuring "a head to head battle of two of the nation's top Historically Black Colleges and Universities - North Carolina A&T State University vs. South Carolina State University."

Also, the alliance serves as the lead sponsor of the 2011 Benefit Bash for Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Sunset Park nonprofit that aims "to empower low and moderate income Brooklyn residents to secure quality housing and build financial assets."

The charity strategy

Using charitable donations to make friends and neutralize potential critics is not a new strategy; after all, Forest City Ratner has practiced this tactic for years, as has--on a much grander scale--Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

And organizations that need money, in an era when government support is scarce, can't help but be grateful.

Ultimately, however, these gifts are an easy call for the donor, since the public is essentially paying the freight.

link

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

May 1, 2011

The Brooklyn brand now extends to a store called "by Brooklyn"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Brooklyn Paper points us to by Brooklyn, a new boutique focusing on Brooklyn-made products, just another stop on the road for the resilient and resurgent Brooklyn brand.

Will the "Brooklyn Nets" be seen as part of this brand, or, with every piece of the Barclays Center arena boasting a corporate logo, something alien?

link

Posted by steve at 9:59 PM

April 14, 2011

In Little Noticed Move, NBA Takes Control of BrooklynNets.com

NetsDaily

The NBA has taken control of the url, BrooklynNets.com, and now automatically directs traffic from that link to the BarclaysCenter.com NetsBasketball page. According to the domain's history, the web address was controlled for years by a motorcycle site, which first registered it in 2003, not long after Bruce Ratner expressed interest in buying the team. On March 21, NBA Media Ventures LLC at the league's New York headquarters was listed as the website's registrant for the first time.

For years, the site featured one page, featuring a drawing of a basketball player and a top-hatted, tuxedo-wearing, one-eyed plutocrat doing battle and the phrase, "Tim Hailey's Brooklyn Nets vs. The Residents".

link

Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

April 12, 2011

N.J./BKN NETS ~ The Billboard Wars Continue; Nets Claiming Their Turf

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger

While the Nets' season might be coming to a close after playing to a less than desirable record, and while their cross-Hudson River rivals are making preparations for the post-season and the Boston Celtics, there is one key match-up in-where the Nets stand toe to toe with the Knicks: Signage.

"Less than desirable?" How about awful?

The Nets launched their latest offensive in the Battle of the Billboards.

Unfortunately, billboards don't win games or sell tickets. Especially this one.

Yesterday, the Nets unveiled a second billboard in Brooklyn featuring Deron Williams and Barclays Center. It follows the same theme as their Times Square ad focusing on the move to the Borough of Kings.
 It Reads:

"WELCOME TO BROOKLYN"

link

NoLandGrab: Apparently the Nets haven't rehired the marketing staff they laid off in April 2009. Surely they didn't pay someone to come up with that line.

Posted by eric at 9:51 PM

April 11, 2011

JAY-Z, NJ NETS FINED $50K FOR VISIT TO KENTUCKY WILDCATS

The Boombox
by Nadeska Alexis

The University of Kentucky celebrated their Elite 8 victory in the recent NCAA tournament with a visit from Jay-Z that will now cost the mogul and his New Jersey Nets a $50,000 fine.

Following the March 27 game at Newark's Prudential Center, Hov paid a visit to the Kentucky Wildcats' locker room where he congratulated players on their victory over the University of North Carolina. He also offered a few motivational words for their upcoming run in the Final Four series, but when photos and videos of the interaction surfaced, the NBA launched an investigation into Jay's visit.

Due to his minority stake ownership in the New Jersey Nets, Mr. Carter's contact with amateur players was deemed a violation of rules. Two Wildcats team members -- Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight -- are potential lottery picks in the upcoming NBA draft. Although Jay-Z's visit to the locker room was reportedly not for recruitment purposes, NBA rules prohibit team owners from having unnecessary contact with the players until their official declare themselves for the NBA Draft.

article

Posted by eric at 11:13 PM

April 7, 2011

Nets Accelerate Drive To Brooklyn For 2012 With Marketing, Finances, Optimism

NYSportsJournalism.com
by Barry Janoff

On April 6, the Nets launched a supporting multi-media marketing campaign, "Brooklyn Bound." The opening leg of the campaign is an 80’ x 60’ billboard featuring point guard Deron Williams, located in Times Square (on Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets) just blocks away from Madison Square Garden, home to the rival New York Knicks.

“This Times Square billboard tips off our dynamic ‘Brooklyn Bound’ campaign, which will see us doing major outdoor advertising in Brooklyn on billboards and phone kiosks,” Brett Yormark, CEO of Nets Basketball and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, said in a statement. “Deron is arguably the best point guard in the NBA and he will be the face of our campaign as we prepare for the team’s exciting relocation to the Barclays Center of Brooklyn in 2012.”

article

NoLandGrab: Williams will be a free agent prior to the 2012 season.

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems: Jay-Z Better Off Investing in New York Knicks than New Jersey Nets

Bleacher Report
by Joey Rotunno

The hip-hop generation and the NBA are forever intertwined, but so far, Shawn Carter’s status as an iconic MC—one who many an athlete has idolized—has had no bearing on his ability to attract professional basketball’s cream of the crop.

That being said, perhaps the franchise he owns is simply that unappealing to potential suitors, and it’s going to take a lot more than a move to Brooklyn to create any buzz.

While it’s a bit of a hassle to back out of his arrangement with the Nets, it is always an option for Jay-Z to sell his share and reinvest in the team on the other side of the East River.
...

I can hear the remix now: If you’re havin’ money problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but the Knicks ain’t one.

article

Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

April 6, 2011

Nets Forward Kris Humphries – and Sly Too – Clean up Prospect Park

The group of about two dozen Nets employees raked leaves while joggers and toddlers alike paused for a better look.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Amy Sara Clark

Like Carl Kruger is fond of saying, "I guess the park, f**k the bridge."

New Jersey (but soon to be Brooklyn) Nets forward Kris Humphries and about two dozen others put rake to the grass yesterday afternoon to help clean up sodden leaves at Prospect Park.

The group of about two dozen, which included several Nets dancers and the team’s mascot, Sly, raked and bagged for about two hours while joggers and toddlers alike paused for a better look, said Prospect Park spokesman Eugene Patron.

And they took the job seriously.

“They went out and they worked – it wasn’t just a photo opp,” he said.

article

NoLandGrab: "Yesterday afternoon?" We believe Sly Fox is only allowed to be off-leash between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Posted by eric at 10:13 PM

Mayor Bloomberg scores four season tickets for New Jersey Nets before stadium is even finished

NY Daily News
by Adam Lisberg

Maybe it's us, but we're guessing they meant "Brooklyn Nets" in that headline.

Mayor Bloomberg is bullish on Brooklyn basketball - snapping up four season tickets at the new Nets arena when it opens next year.

"The Nets are going to provide some great entertainment," he said. "It's going to be exciting basketball."

The steel skeleton of the arena, rising above Atlantic and Flatbush Aves., is 30% finished.

"We are thrilled that the mayor has decided to become a season-ticket holder," said Nets CEO Brett Yormark. "The mayor is one of the most astute investors in the city, and we are pleased that he sees the Nets in Brooklyn as a great investment."

link

NoLandGrab: The astute Mayor must indeed be viewing those tickets as an investment, because we surely don't expect to see him court-side beyond opening night. Of course, when your net worth is reportedly more than $20 billion, it's no big deal to piss away $176,000 (assuming a $1,000-per-ticket face value) on something as awful as Nets basketball. The equivalent purchase for someone with just a million dollars to his name would run less than nine bucks.

Posted by eric at 9:58 PM

Deron Williams Will Join Nets in Brooklyn in 2012, Implies Nets Billboard

NYMag.com
by Joe DeLessio

The Great Knicks-Nets Billboard War continues: The Nets today unveiled the Times Square billboard you see here, reminding people that they'll be moving to Brooklyn. (Their Atlantic Yards arena, as you surely knew already, is scheduled to open in 2012.) Of course, whether Deron Williams will actually be on the Nets by the time that happens very much remains to be seen: He's due $17.8 million in 2012–13, but he can opt out of his contract after the 2011–12 season. The Nets can begin negotiating with him on an extension beginning on July 18 (assuming the league's labor situation doesn't push that date back). Though by slapping his face on a billboard — on this billboard — it's clear they're not lacking in confidence.

link

NoLandGrab: Not lacking in confidence, or yes lacking in common sense?

Photo: New Jersey Nets

Posted by eric at 9:52 PM

April 1, 2011

Mixed Reviews: Prokhorov Makes Waves But Doesn’t Get Results in Season One

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

The best thing an audience can say about an upstart reality television series or hot new dramatic cable saga is that they can’t wait to see what happens next season.

Based on that scenario, Mikhail Prokhorov’s first full campaign as principal owner of the New Jersey (soon-to-be-Brooklyn) Nets has been a smashing success.

Since the 45-year-old metal tycoon has taken charge, the Nets have been more newsworthy than usual, gaining arguably their most attention since Jason Kidd led them to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.

A check of the franchise-in-transition’s record, both on and off the court, however, indicates that the positive results have been based much more on style than substance.

article

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

CAN YOU INVEST STOCK IN THE NEW JERSEY NETS?

Sports Choice

Question by Matt D: Can you invest stock in the New Jersey Nets?

Can you invest stock in individual NBA teams?

Best answer:

Answer by jken2030
um, No.

link

Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

March 31, 2011

NBA probing Jay-Z’s visit to Kentucky locker room

AP via Yahoo! Sports

An NBA spokesman confirms that the league is investigating Jay-Z’s presence in Kentucky’s locker room after the Wildcats clinched a Final Four berth.

The rapper visited the players after their victory over North Carolina on Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J, home of the Nets. Jay-Z is a part-owner of the team and attended the Nets’ 120-116 loss at New York on Wednesday.

NBA rules prohibit team personnel from having contact with players who are not yet draft eligible, and spokesman Tim Frank told the Associated Press the league is looking into it.

link

Posted by eric at 3:01 PM

Knicks and Nets: Two Teams That Need an Introduction

The New York Times
by George Vecsey

Both the Knicks and the Nets are mutants — teams that keep evolving, on their way to someplace else. Eventually the dust and disorder at the Garden will be replaced by a vastly more expensive new version of the arena, while the Nets continue their loopy hegira from the Meadowlands to Newark and onward to Brooklyn, three-card monte with players. Now you see them, now you don’t.
...

The Nets have an owner who speaks (Russian and English), the charismatic Mikhail D. Prokhorov, and they plan to move to the Atlantic Yards section of Brooklyn, with all the urban disruption and mixed blessings that entails. They are a work in progress, sharing the old slogan with the Knicks: Dig We Must.

article

NoLandGrab: "Atlantic Yards section of Brooklyn?" That must be the section also known as Prospect Heights.

Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

March 30, 2011

New Jersey Nets start selling tickets for games — in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Paper

Don't everyone burn up those phone lines at once. The Nets, according to the press release reprinted by The Brooklyn Paper, are beginning to sell "Brooklyn" Nets tickets for the 2012-2013 season.

From the press release:

The first-of-its-kind All Access season tickets for NETS Basketball at the Barclays Center of Brooklyn are going on sale today for current season ticket holders. The team is distributing by mail premium-designed, five-panel ticket packages that showcases the NETS and the Barclays Center in preparation for the team’s relocation to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 NBA season.

Season tickets for these premium locations will feature the unprecedented NETS All Access Pass. This Pass will offer fans several distinctive elements, including the opportunity to purchase tickets before the general public to non-NETS events that will be staged at the Barclays Center. The All Access Pass can also be used for unlimited food, prepared by award-winning Levy Restaurants, at designated clubs and all fixed concession stands during NETS games; a first-time offering for a major New York metropolitan area sports team.

Additional All Access Pass benefits will include: a private entrance, dedicated VIP speed lines at all entrances, concierge service, early access into the Barclays Center, membership to the Barclays Center Business Alliance - a corporate networking program exclusive to sponsors and season ticketholders - and much more.

While All Access Passes are the first ticket offerings being made available, non-premium NETS season tickets for the Barclays Center will be implemented in different phases in 2011.

When all price points are unveiled, the NETS ticket prices will be available for everyone’s budget. Two thousand tickets will be priced at $15 and under for each game, and an allotment of tickets for all events at the Barclays Center will be made available to the community, which was committed to in the Community Benefits Agreement of 2005.

Fifty percent of all season tickets will be priced at $55 or less per game, and lower level season tickets start at $65.

There will be no Personal Seat License for NETS tickets.

link

NoLandGrab: No PSLs? Why thank you, Nets — as if that was remotely a possibility.

Related coverage...

NY1, Nets' New Home To Feature All-Access Pass

A deluxe package will soon pamper some lucky Nets fans when the team moves to Brooklyn.

Current Nets season tickets holders are getting first dibs on the All-Access pass for the 2012-2013 season.

It'll give fans premium treatment at the Nets' new home at the Barclays Center.

The pass starts at $99 a game and includes unlimited food, a private entrance, concierge service, and access to a business center.

But non-season ticket holders have to hold on a bit longer for their chance to buy tickets.

Posted by eric at 7:57 PM

March 29, 2011

Jay-Z’s $450 million Business Empire

Yahoo! Finance
by Daniel Gross

Jay-Z's career and business interests are vivid testimony to the mainstreaming of hip-hop culture. Deals come his way in part because he is, simply put, much cooler and culturally relevant than older guys in suits. It's not simply that he can attract a crowd, but that he lends a kind of legitimacy to all sorts of ventures — including the efforts to build a huge arena/ development to house the New Jersey Nets in Brooklyn. The New Jersey Nets, as Greenburg notes, had long been a second-tier team in the NBA, and an afterthought in New York. Facing political obstacles and community opposition, Nets owner Bruce Ratner offered Jay-Z a small ownership stake in exchange for becoming one of the public faces of the project. Another potential bonus: the other owners thought Jay-Z could help attract top talent like LeBron James to the Nets.

That hasn't quite worked out.

article

Posted by eric at 10:39 AM

March 28, 2011

Nets' new home moving forward

Bergen Record
by John Brennan

The spot that will one day be the site of the Barclays Center basketball court is a mud patch, and only about a quarter of the arena’s circumference is apparent.

But 12 months after a high profile groundbreaking for the $1 billion arena near downtown Brooklyn, concrete and steel testify to the reality of the Nets’ pending exit from New Jersey.

The first of the arena’s halfdozen large roof trusses was erected 10 days ago, now defining the height of the 675,000square-foot facility for the many passers-by. About 30 percent of the steel is already up, and the foundation is 70 percent complete, arena officials say.

The precast steps will be put in place within the next 30 days or so, giving a sense of the bowl to curious neighbors. The first part of the facade is expected to be in place by mid-July, and the roof should be in place by year’s end. If construction continues at this pace, the arena is likely to open on schedule in mid-2012 — just months before the Nets move in that fall.

Guess who's PUMPED! about the advent of the arena.

Nets chief executive Brett Yormark is renowned for his unbridled optimism — a trait that didn’t waver, even during last season’s record-breaking futility of an 0-18 start en route to a league-worst 12 wins in 82 games. So it’s a given that Yormark would gush about the possibilities in Brooklyn, where the arena is a key piece of the Atlantic Yards project being built by developer Forest City Ratner.

“We’ve been talking to artists and promoters, and the biggest names in the business want to play here,” Yormark said during a tour of the arena site last week. “I think our opening-month celebration is going to be unprecedented. When we put out the artists’ names that are going to appear here. … Everyone sees the movement in Brooklyn. They understand that this is going to continue the renaissance in Brooklyn, and they’re embracing it. They want to be a part of it.”
...

Yormark said season-ticket holders will begin receiving invitations to reserve Barclays Center seats in the next 10 days.

“We’re only marketing our 4,400 best seats to start,” said Yormark, whose arena will include 3,200 premium, or “club” seats. Yormark said that all 16 “brownstone suites,” featuring 16 seats, have sold out at $450,000 apiece. Yormark said about 40 percent of the suites are sold overall, with the nine most-expensive, event-level, Jay-Z-designed suites being held off the market until the fall.
...

But many Nets fans in New Jersey undoubtedly can’t visualize crossing two major rivers and numerous potential traffic bottlenecks to make it to the Barclays Center — even though the arena is less than 20 miles from downtown Hackensack and less than 30 miles from Wayne.
...

Parking also figures to be a challenge, although Yormark said there will be 1,100 spaces at the site, 600 more at the Atlantic Center, and another 1,600 to 1,700 spots in lots within six to eight blocks. Yormark said that studies show about 70 percent of Knicks fans arrive by mass transportation, and that he hopes that at least half of Nets fans will do the same.

article

Posted by eric at 11:10 AM

March 10, 2011

Nets Center Visits Future Home in Brooklyn

NBC New York
by Geoffrey Decker

The New Jersey Nets aren’t due in Brooklyn for another year and a half, but star center Brook Lopez is scouting the territory.

He visited Bushwick High School this week for a basketball clinic where he shot hoops, signed autographs, and posed for pictures with about 50 students.

“Being that Brooklyn will be our home in a few years, it’s nice to get out here whenever I can,” said the third-year seven-footer.
...

At Tuesday’s event, which was hosted by the U.S. Army to promote physical fitness, an informal poll of the crowd revealed that no one intended to switch allegiances from New York just yet.

“I think I’m a Knick fan for life,” said Keith Williams, a senior guard at Bushwick.

article

Posted by eric at 10:30 AM

March 5, 2011

As team prepares for move, hope is Nets-Knicks will be new Dodgers-Giants

Associated Press

This article mostly deals with the Nets' chances of building a Brooklyn fan base, but it does manage to mention one reason Brooklynites will not be fans.

The Nets' campaign to build a fan base has been hampered by a drawn-out battle between neighbourhood residents and developer Bruce Ratner over the Atlantic Yards development, anchored by the Barclays Center. Many Brooklyn residents opposed the project's scale and the use of eminent domain to clear the land.

Eric McClure, a spokesman for the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, said, "I used to root for the Nets until they announced that they were going to be taking people's homes to build a taxpayer-subsidized basketball arena."

link

Further coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, AP offers big-picture piece on meaning of Knicks-Nets rivalry; ex-Brooklynite professes "cosmic scale has swung"

After the New York Observer's big think piece on the meaning of a Knicks-Nets rivalry, now comes a similar article from the AP, headlined As team prepares for move, hope is Nets-Knicks will be new Dodgers-Giants.

The article acknowledges some bitterness:

The Nets' campaign to build a fan base has been hampered by a drawn-out battle between neighborhood residents and developer Bruce Ratner over the Atlantic Yards development, anchored by the Barclays Center. Many Brooklyn residents opposed the project's scale and the use of eminent domain to clear the land.

Eric McClure, a spokesman for the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, said, "I used to root for the Nets until they announced that they were going to be taking people's homes to build a taxpayer-subsidized basketball arena."

But the "he-said, she-said" technique ends up with a source who's upbeat about the move:

But some Knicks fans say they may switch their allegiance once the Nets are in Brooklyn.

Michael Shapiro, the author of another book about the Dodgers, "The Last Good Season: Brooklyn, the Dodgers and Their Final Pennant Race Together," said the Nets' move to Brooklyn means "the cosmic scale has swung."

"It's going to be really hard for me to root against a Brooklyn team," he said. "Call me in two years."

Shapiro--a native Brooklynite who lives on the Upper West Side--is worth talking to, but it's dismaying that a journalism professor is more concerned about fandom and "the cosmic scale" than, say, the shenanigans behind sports business today.

Unfortunately, he's also helped perpetuate the "same site" error, mythically connecting the arena site with the hoped-for location for a new Ebbets Field.

Posted by steve at 6:12 PM

March 3, 2011

Did Barclays do the Nets a favor in buying naming rights, or was the favor from New York State, which gave the rights away?

Atlantic Yards Report

The Nets are in London as part of the NBA's (and their) march toward world branding.

In Nets Repay Barclays for the Favor, Nets Daily blogger Net Income (aka "the Leni Riefenstahl of the New Jersey Nets") has an exclusive:

This much is indisputable about the Nets' move to Brooklyn: If Barclays hadn't agreed to a $400 million naming rights deal in 2007, the arena now known as Barclays Center would never have been built. It was the critical commitment at the critical time for the Nets. Without it, the whole effort would have lacked credibility.

So dressed in suits and ties (Jordan Farmar and Johan Petro wore bow ties), Nets players and Avery Johnson spent part of their first day in London at a presentation to some 300 Barclays Capital executives and employees Wednesday. It was the first team event, other than a photo at the London Tower Bridge.

The "favor" did not come from Barclays.

Barclays made an investment, from its advertising budget. (You could argue that American taxpayers sure helped.)

The favor came from the state of New York, which gave away naming rights, and then neglected to count that gift as a subsidy.

And, of course, what was announced as a $400 million deal was cut significantly, after two renegotiations nearly in half.

link

Posted by eric at 11:23 AM

March 2, 2011

Nets' rebirth should include Renaissance of classic hoops name

CBSSports.com
by Jan Hubbard

[Prokhorov] has to create instant tradition and his location provides a perfect setting. His new arena is being built in the Atlantic Yards area of Brooklyn, where a renaissance is taking place. Less than 15 miles from that arena is a place where one of the great basketball teams in history was formed -- the Harlem Renaissance, also known as the Harlem Renaissance Big Five and the New York Renaissance.

That is the perfect name for the rebirth of Prokhorov's franchise. The New York Renaissance is a name grand in tradition. The shortened name, the Rens, is friendly to tabloids and one-column headlines alike.

article

NoLandGrab: OK, we get the paying tribute to a famous all-black basketball squad from an era well before any professional sports were integrated, but could there be a more insulting name to residents around the arena? The actual renaissance of those neighborhoods was well under way long before Bruce Ratner cooked up his land-grab scheme, and implying that the abysmal Nets — however you package them — would somehow be fueling the Borough's climb would be just one more slap in the face to the "Atlantic Yards area."

Posted by eric at 10:23 PM

B-Brawl! Prokhorov, the Nets’ Rakish Russian, Aims A.K. at Garden Party as Dolan’s Knicks Brace for Red Scare

NY Observer
by Reid Pillifant

If Mr. Prokhorov has any hope of capturing the city's affection, he must first conquer Brooklyn, which could prove a rocky beachhead.

The rosiest scenario has the Nets replacing the bygone baseball Dodgers as the borough's pro sports heroes, but the prospect of a glorious homecoming is quite a bit more complicated.

"For someone like me, who's a Brooklynite through and through, it's going to create dilemmas," said Senator Charles Schumer, who was born and still lives a short bicycle ride from the new arena site. "Because I've been a Knicks fan all along, and I guess I'll have to wait until they arrive and see what happens. But my inclination is to stick with the Nets"—he shook his head—"with the Knicks."

The team's arrival has already suffered years of bad press, thanks to the protracted battle over the $4 billion development at the Atlantic Yards site in downtown Brooklyn. Before a series of court rulings resolved it and construction started in earnest last year, the battle pitted neighborhood activists, many of them newcomers who spawned the borough's gentrification, against the team's former owner Bruce Ratner, the site's developer.

The bitterness lingers.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Chuck Schumer's dilemma and Marty Markowitz's return to candor: footnoting the Observer's article on the Knicks-Nets rivalry

A couple of observations on the New York Observer's long article about the owners of the area's two hoops teams, headlined B-Brawl! Prokhorov, the Nets’ Rakish Russian, Aims A.K. at Garden Party as Dolan’s Knicks Brace for Red Scare:

1) They weren't able to interview either owner, Jim Dolan or Mikhail Prokhorov, so all the talk of rivalry is secondhand. But the Knicks are, yes, on the defensive--somewhat.

2) Somehow they didn't quote my observation about the meaning of the EB-5 investment.

3) I would wager I know who said this:

(A person familiar with the plans said Mr. Prokhorov is assembling an in-house retreat for himself 10 times the size of a standard luxury box "for he and his Russian friends.")

That's Brett Yormarkian tactics, and grammar.

4) Sen. Chuck Schumer, who's a Brooklynite, admits to dilemmas, since "I've been a Knicks fan all along." What? Schumer's been a huge supporter of Atlantic Yards. If the prospect of 10,000 phantom jobs no longer "enervates" him, what exactly does he support?

Follow the link for the rest of Norman Oder's Top 7 list.

Posted by eric at 11:57 AM

February 24, 2011

A day after losing out on Anthony, Nets get superstar point guard Williams; he's got a contract extension to sign, but for now, it's seen as a big win

Atlantic Yards Report

After being seen as losers to the Knicks in the (costly) effort to attract star Carmelo Anthony, the Nets yesterday got superstar point guard Deron Williams, unhappy at the Utah Jazz in exchange for point guard Devin Harris (the face of EB-5 flackery), rookie forward Derrick Favors, and more.

For Nets fans, the optimistic perspective is that Williams will sign a contract extension and help attract more stars. The pessimistic one is that Williams won't sign and will leave.

But the consensus, for now, is that the Nets made a good deal.

Cut to round-up of sports stories praising trade. And then back to reality.

Would that any of these writers, who pay such intense attention to hoops, considered the "Debbie Downer" issue of "the crooked crap that actually matters," such as how team and arena owners make their money.

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NoLandGrab: Yes, Williams isa good player, but when was the last time you saw someone outside of Salt Lake City sporting his jersey? And the Nets traded their two best players not named Brook Lopez, and two potential lottery picks, for the guy who caused legendary NBA coach Jerry Sloan to quit.

Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

February 23, 2011

Carmelo Anthony’s Impact on Jay-Z’s Net Worth

Forbes.com
by Zack O'Malley Greenburg

When Carmelo Anthony suits up for his first game as a Knick tonight, there will be a thick soup of euphoria in the air. There will be cheers, laughter and maybe even a few tears of joy. Because for the first time in a decade, New York basketball fans have a championship-caliber team to root for, helmed by two name-brand superstars.

But for Brooklyn native and Nets co-owner Jay-Z, the focus will be on the other side of the river, and what might have been – not to mention a lost opportunity for the rapper to add another seven-figure sum to his net worth ($450 million, by our latest estimates) through a bump in the value of his 1.5% stake in the Nets.

“Had the Nets been able to acquire Carmelo at a reasonable price, the franchise value would have increased,” says Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based consultancy SportsCorp. “A star of his caliber combined with a rebranding and move to Brooklyn could have added more than $100 million to the franchise’s value.”

A simple back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that Carmelo’s trade to the Knicks, and not to the Nets, will cost Jay-Z about $1.5 million in equity. It also represents lost value of $80 million for Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who holds an 80% stake in the team as majority owner. And now, as the Nets prepare for a move to Brooklyn in 2012, both moguls must determine what it is that they’re moving.

article

Related coverage...

Gothamist, Hey, the Nets Made a Big Trade Too!

In the aftermath of the conclusion to the Carmelodrama, the Nets made their own splashy move today, trading Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round draft picks and cash to the Utah Jazz for two time All-Star point guard Deron Williams. After they lost the LeBron sweepstakes last summer, and the Carmelo one this week, the Nets were determined to emerge with a franchise player this time; and though it seemingly came together very quickly, coach Anthony Johnson says it was in the works for awhile: "This is not a Plan B. It was just one that wasn't announced. One that nobody got -- until recently. He's not a Plan B. He's a Plan A also. We've been working on this for a while."

If it's true, then this gives further credence to the suggestion that the Nets only re-entered the Carmelo trade discussions last week in order to drive the price up for the Knicks, and piss them off at the same time. It's also interesting that over the weekend, it was reported that Williams told associates he was interested in joining with Amare in NY in 2012. But now, Williams will be the face of the Nets come 2012/2013, when the team moves into the Barclay Center at Atlantic Yards.

NoLandGrab: Not so fast — the Forbes story goes on to point out that Williams can opt out of his Nets contract at the end of next season.

Atlantic Yards Report, My thoughts on the meaning of the BK Nets? Don't forget the EB-5 story, as immigrant investors are misled into thinking they're supporting an arena

Debbie Downer, aka Norman Oder, still thinks the mainstream press ought to focus on all the crooked crap that actually matters, instead of the faux hoops hoopla for a league that's likely not even going to be in business next season. He just doesn't get how the media works, does he?

I was asked today to comment for a New York Observer article "about the post-Melo fight between the Nets and the Knicks for New York's psyche. Would you be interested in sharing your thoughts as to what this team does or does not mean for Brooklyn and the city as a whole?"

My response: "I think it means that Chinese millionaires think they're investing in an arena in exchange for green cards, via the developer's dubious deployment of the federal government's EB-5 program."

Don't put on blinders

Yeah, it sounds like a non sequitur, but the point is: when it comes to sports, I lean toward Dave Zirin, who can't forget how team owners wangle profits, not Will Leitch, who willfully puts on blinders.

And the New York Observer, however worthy its effort to cruise the borough basketball zeitgeist, should also have been reporting on what surely is misrepresentation and may be fraud.

It was former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky who famously said, "[T]here is nothing like professional sports to make public people nutty."

That applies to the press, as well.

NLG: In non-EB-5-related news tonight, 'Melo had 27 points and 10 boards in his New York debut, as the Knicks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, a team they'd beaten only once in their last eight tries, 114-108.

Posted by eric at 10:44 PM

February 22, 2011

So Now What?

NetsAreScorching
by Mark Ginocchio

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the current state of the NBA, it’s the players – most notably the “star” players – run the show, and if ‘Melo was dead set on going to the New York Knicks, the same way LeBron James and Chris Bosh were dead set on joining Dwayne Wade in South Beach – there’s no amount of powerpoint, Russian vodka our Jay Zee playa-ship that’s going to change that outcome.
...

In addition to repeatedly offering the sun and the moon for a player who maybe could have snuck this organization into a bottom playoff seed next year (if there even IS a next year), the front office has once again proven why the Nets will continue to be second-class citizens in the New York area. And assuming all of the main players in the front office and coaching staff remain the same, I don’t know how the stench will be erased. Yes, bravado and risk-taking is a nice change-of-pace from the Bruce Ratner years, but you can only lead with the chin so many teams before you’re left concussed, and needless to say, the 2010-11 New Jersey Nets have been officially knocked out.

What we’ve also learned is as rich as Mikhail Prokhorov is and as charming as he may appear in his 60 Minute interviews and press conferences, the average NBA superstar just does not care. He alone will never sell these players on this organization. The Nets need to stop getting involved in scenarios where the player’s hold all of the leverage. The current framework of this organization is not going to change anyone’s mind. If that’s the Blueprint for Greatness, on merits alone, quite frankly it stinks.

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Posted by eric at 10:38 PM

As Nets lose out to (high-paying) Knicks in Anthony trade, Prokhorov takes some hits; goodbye, Devin Harris, face of EB-5 flackery?

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder wraps up coverage of the Nets' latest spectacular failure.

Well, Bruce Ratner has convinced Daily News columnist Denis Hamill (who conveniently forgot about affordable housing and permanent jobs) of the importance of the in-construction Barclays Center arena, it's a tougher sell for Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who lost to the Knicks (who paid dearly in a turf war with the Nets) in the trade for departing Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony.

Writes the Daily News' Mitch Lawrence, in Mikhail Prokhorov is all talk, no action, lets Carmelo Anthony slip through Nets' fingers to Knicks:

There's no other way to sum it up: Monday night was another bad night for the Nets under Prokhorov.

Just as last July was a bad month for the Nets' owner, when the Knicks got Amar'e Stoudemire and he got Travis Outlaw.

Prokhorov likes to tweak his counterpart, Garden chairman Jim Dolan. He likes to put up billboards across the street from the Garden, challenging the Knicks. He likes to send statements out of Moscow saying he doesn't want the Nets to become the Knicks, he wants them to become the Lakers.

Prokhorov is all talk. No action.

Under Prokhorov, the Nets haven't done a thing.

It's not entirely Prokhorov's fault. He goes to see superstars like James last July and Anthony in Los Angeles over the weekend and all he can give them is Brooklyn as an idea. There's nothing in Brooklyn now for the best players in the game to come to. Maybe when the arena is finished, that's when Prokhorov will be able to convert his vast fortune into some NBA superstars.

But not yet.

There's plenty more where that came from.

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Posted by eric at 9:40 AM

February 21, 2011

KNICKS-NETS; The Carmelo Tug-of-War Helps Spur Rivalry

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger posts an epic — epic what, we can't really say — about the Nets and the Knicks.

To say the Knicks and Nets maintain a contentious local rivalry is a lie; They don't - Or, they didn't - Or, not yet anyway. But they will!
...

The media remains lukewarm to the County of Kings at best. In this Brooklynites' opinion, they aren't taking the viability of Brooklyn hosting an NBA franchise seriously enough. They laugh off any notion the Nets, or any entity there-of located in Brooklyn can adversely impact the New York Knickerbockers' dominant grip on NYC's basketball loyalties. What they always fail to realize however is we (Brooklynites) could care less what happens in Manhattan. For us "out here" this is what it has always boiled down to for us; - We are Brooklyn and the rest is whatever. We make our own way. We'll have Ours and Manhattan will have theirs. And that's just the way we like it. One day that will get played out on the court and not in the newspapers and on TAWK-shows.

Don't wait to read some nostalgic piece in some magazine or in a book about the birth of a new rivalry written later in your life when one of these Media naysayers decides to tell the story about this, and tell you how they were there When Brooklyn....blah blah blah...., No; not when so many of them are dismissive of the whole thing today. I however, am living it. And I don't do this to get paid either. Just pay attention and put this story together for yourself. It's happening.

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NoLandGrab: We agree about the blah blah blah part.

Posted by eric at 9:00 AM

February 18, 2011

There's a sucker fleeced every minute

The Daily Blahg [NYDailyNews.com]
by Filip Bondy

When the Nets return from their road trip for a game at the Rock on Feb. 28 to face the Suns, they may or may not have Carmelo Anthony. But one thing is for sure: parking will only be $25 in the adjacent Edison lot, not $30.

You have to give the Edison people credit: They stick meticulously to their guns, and to the standings. The price of parking has nothing to do with the Nets, but instead with the opponent. When a first-place team comes to visit, the price of parking is $30. For second-place teams and below, the charge is $25.

That has meant parking for the low-buzz Spurs went for $30, while parking for 'Melo and the Nuggets was a mere $25.

I've heard of teams like the Mets going to tier pricing by opponents, but never the parking lots. However, the cost of parking in the Bronx doubles for the Yankee playoffs, even though your car isn't going to watch a single inning.

All of this nonsense -- and I haven't mentioned PSLs in the NFL -- has contributed to the general alienation of fan bases being squeezed for every penny in their change purse. The Nets may be itinerant wanderers now, but when they hit Brooklyn they should install a fan-friendly philosophy about pricing on all fronts, build up some good will.

If nothing else, you have to figure the price of a subway ride to Atlantic Yards won't double when the Lakers are in town.

link

NoLandGrab: Don't be so sure, Filip. Bruce and the MTA have a very close working relationship.

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

February 16, 2011

Stern: Ratner Group Lost "Several Hundred Million" Selling Nets

NetsDaily

In defending his and owners' hardline in labor talks, David Stern told Bloomberg News that the Nets old ownership group, headed by Bruce Ratner, took a serious hit when they sold the franchise to Mikhail Prokhorov.

While discussing the NBA negotiations --and the owners' hardline, Woodruff asked, "Is it a contradiction to say that the current model does not work, and yet, franchises are being bought for huge sums by billionaires like Mikhail Prokhorov who just bought the Nets?"

"Stop there," said Stern, interrupting. "He just did [buy the Nets], and the previous ownership lost several hundred million dollars on that transaction".

While Ratner, his partners and parent group, Forest City Enterprises, did lose more than $200 million, Prokhorov assumed 80% of team debt as part of his purchase. He also agreed to eat up to $60 million in losses while the team is still in New Jersey, bringing the price tag for the team and part ownership of Barclays Center to nearly a half billion dollars.

David Stern Interview (Video) - Judy Woodruff - Bloomberg Television

link

NoLandGrab: Boo hoo. Ask Jay-Z, it's a business, man. But let's be clear. Bruce Ratner didn't really lose anything, when you factor in the full deal — Atlantic Yards. So who is left holding the bag? Residents in and around Prospect Heights, and New York's taxpayers.

Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

February 12, 2011

Daily News, straightfaced, quotes Yormark as saying Kidd comments pushed marketing campaign. Nah.

Atlantic Yards Report

The Daily News Sports section reports, without a glimmer of factchecking, Former Nets guard Jason Kidd may have accelerated New Jersey's move to Brooklyn with comments:

Jason Kidd provided his former team with a reality check about its move to Brooklyn. The Nets' CEO took it to heart.

So after Kidd said last month that players won't believe in the future until an arena opens, CEO Brett Yormark and his public relations team jumpstarted a campaign to relay a message of inevitability to players and fans.

..."When Jason left (for the Mavericks), there wasn't anything coming out of the ground yet. Probably there was a bit of a question mark from his perspective with respect to the project. Shortly after his comments, we felt obligated to put the heat on our messaging and get it out there."

Kidd made his comments around January 22. A month earlier, Sports Business Journal reported:

Translation, another commercial entity in which Jay-Z and Steve Stoute have an interest, has been hired to orchestrate the first pitch for "Brooklyn Nets" tickets, with initial ads expected in February.

link

Posted by steve at 5:41 PM

February 11, 2011

Brooklyn Hopes Players Will Move to Borough Along With The Franchise

via NetsDaily

In other news, we're still waiting for pigs to fly, and thinking we might need to give up on having that tooth beneath our pillow swapped for cash by a fairy.

Devin Harris has long lived happily along the Hudson in New Jersey. Most if not all the Nets live in the Garden State as well but the Daily News writes of Brooklynites' hopes that some of them, specifically Harris, will follow their team to the borough, much like the Dodgers did in the 1950's. (The article appeared only in the newspaper, not online.)

NY Daily News
by Jay Mwamba

It echoes back to the time of the Brooklyn Dodgers -- a historic and special era more than 50 years ago when professional athletes held court and lived in the borough. Back then, for many Brooklynites and their fans, the players were superstars and neighbors.

A part of that nostalgic memory will be rekindled when the New Jersey Nets basketball team moves to the Barclays Center arena in downtown Brooklyn for the 2012-2013 NBA season.

With the neighborhoods of Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Fort Greene in close proximity, there may be pro athletes in the borough again.

The excitement is palpable in the Nets organization and the community as work proceeds briskly on the high-tech venue that will seat as many as 19,500 people.

link

NoLandGrab: Yes, we can almost feel the palp.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Daily News, in cliche-filled article, swallows FCR claims about taxes and jobs

The Daily News published an article headlined Brooklyn Hopes Players Will Move to Borough Along With The Franchise and, though it was in print only, NetsDaily, always happy to boost the Brooklyn move, published it in full.

In it, freelancer Jay Mwamba quoted chief cheerleader Brett Yormark on the Dodgers and swallowed ridiculous Forest City Ratner claims whole:

The Barclays Center is part of a 22-acre residential and commercial rel estate project dubbed the Atlantic Yards that's expected to generate more than $5 billion in new tax revenues over the next 30 years.

In addition to tax benefits, the project will create thousands of new jobs: upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs and as many as 8,000 permanent and as nearly 8,000 permanent jobs.

In a not-exactly broad canvass, the article did find three people excited about the arena: two restaurant managers and a realtor.

NLG: Add them to your boycott list — Blue Ribbon, Kombit Bar and Restaurant, and Brown, Harris, Stevens.

Posted by eric at 10:25 AM

February 10, 2011

NBA's Nets Tap Translation to Burnish Move to Brooklyn

Agency Must Stoke Pride in Lackluster Team Moving to Stadium Plagued by Protests

Advertising Age
by Rich Thomaselli

The foundation is in place, the steel is poured and the suite concourse level is starting to take shape. Still, the impending move of the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn and the opulent Barclays Center now under construction has been so fraught with controversy, the franchise felt compelled to hire a branding firm to help "position" the move.

New York-based Translation is charged with speaking to a variety of constituencies surrounding the Nets' move from New Jersey, including potential new season-ticket holders, current season-ticket holders, longtime fans of the team, local businesses and, perhaps most important, to a vocal though now dwindling group of citizens who have long opposed a new arena in Brooklyn, saying it will change the dynamic of the beloved borough.

Dwindling?

"Obviously this is a moment we've been waiting for for six years and we only get one shot to get it right," said Nets CEO Brett Yormark of the move to Brooklyn, which was first announced in 2005. "We figured we'd outsource some thinking. We like Translation and we like their leader and the fact that they have a deep bench. The initial work we've received from them has been dead on. They'll help us not only on the Nets brand, but also identifying the Barclays Center."

Actually, the move was first announced in 2003.

"We have a brand, the arena, for housing great talent. And we have a brand, the Brooklyn Nets, and we need to make them a phenomenon in 2012," Mr. Stoute said. "We won't be treating this like a relocated team. We'll be treating this like a team that has a new brand value. Our work is going to be as diverse as Brooklyn itself."

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NoLandGrab: Turning the 16-37 Nets into a "phenomenon" by next year is going to take a lot more than an advertising campaign. And as the first commenter points out, the reporter failed to note that Translation is co-owned by none other than Nets spokesmodel Jay-Z.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The marketing of the Nets, via Translation

Ad Age has a story about the hiring of the marketing agency Translation, which was announced in December.

The new article quotes me:

"I suspect they're trying to reinforce a sense of inevitability -- that the arena is coming -- after years of false promises about the timetable," Mr. Oder said. "That said, they likely have multiple audiences to play to. For one thing, they've only sold a small fraction of the luxury suites and they need those sales to pay off construction. They have the advantage of newness, being a new team in the market, but they also have to fill a building at a time when, at least for now, people have less and less discretionary income. The working assumption has always been that 30% of current New Jersey fans of the Nets would also attend games in Brooklyn. But the team has gotten worse [the sixth worst record in the league at 15-37], and it has been a very long goodbye. If that means fewer New Jersey fans, then they have to reach out as broadly as possible, geographically and demographically, in and around Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

February 8, 2011

Are Nets' Attendance, YES Ratings at Rock Bottom of NBA Numbers?

NetsDaily

Sounds like Brooklyn won't be getting a "professional" sports franchise anytime soon. So glad we taxpayers are kicking in a billion bucks for this.

In spite of a move to Newark and a marketing campaign that things are "all new", the Nets attendance and TV ratings appear to be at the bottom of the NBA.

The Nets list their average attendance at "The Rock" as 12,868 so far this season, down nearly 2% from last year.

That's also about 1,000 lower than the next lowest, the Kings, who play in the league's most antiquated arena.
...

Meanwhile, Sports Business Journal reports that the Nets' television ratings on YES are the lowest local ratings in the NBA, at 0.29, meaning only about a quarter of one per cent of all households in the New York area tune into watch the 15-37 Nets. The next lowest rating, for the Clippers on FOX Sports West, is nearly three times higher.

link

Posted by eric at 10:28 AM

February 7, 2011

A Peek Into the Nets' Future... Through a Locker Room Door

NetsDaily

"NetIncome," the Leni Riefenstahl of the New Jersey Nets, was "permitted" to "take an exclusive peek inside the team's plans for what officials are calling 'best in class' locker room facilities."

Now there's an exclusive.

The design is a big deal for Mikhail Prokhorov, say associates and he doesn't want it to be just "state of the art".

"I would say best in class," is how Nets' technology consultant Milton] Lee describes the goal, borrowing the phrase that's printed on the back of his and every Net official's business cards. "Prokhorov and (Bruce) Ratner, because he's the majority owner of the arena, have been consistent in that they want this to be best in class."

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NoLandGrab: "Best in class?" Maybe the 15-37 Nets should stamp that on the back of their jerseys. Or maybe Bruce Ratner should hang it on a banner on the Atlantic Center mall.

Posted by eric at 10:25 AM

February 2, 2011

For the Nets, a Brooklyn Stars Can’t See

The New York Times
by Harvey Araton

Sounds like we have this Times columnist to blame for the whole Atlantic Yards mess.

There are some in the news media and even N.B.A. sophisticates who didn’t or still don’t see the pragmatism in the Brooklyn transfer because their familiarity with the borough began and ended with Junior’s, if not the Dodgers. Having lived for many years in downtown Brooklyn, I once had to explain to a league official how accessible the arena site at the Atlantic Yards would be by subway and rail and how surrounded it would be by restaurant-rich neighborhoods full of upscale young people with disposable income.

On the other end of the telephone was the longtime Westchester resident David Stern, the N.B.A. commissioner.

If Stern had to be sold on what Brooklyn might become as an alternative to the failed Meadowlands experiment, what can we expect from the league’s reigning prima donnas?

Travis Outlaw isn’t one of them. As a consolation-prize free agent last summer, Outlaw, a 6-foot-9 forward from Starkville, Miss., received a rather generous deal from the Nets: $35 million over five years, at least two to be played in Newark.

Asked Monday night if he and the typical N.B.A. player had a sense of the approximate location of the new arena to Midtown, or to Madison Square Garden, Outlaw shrugged.

“I don’t think guys think it’s too far, but they probably don’t really know if it’s that close or not,” he said.

Told the arena was only about a 15-minute subway ride from the Garden, Outlaw said: “That’s it? That ain’t bad at all. That’s crazy. I didn’t know that at all.”

Of course, most future Nets won’t be inclined to ride the No. 2 train, so Outlaw promptly said, “What about driving?”

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NoLandGrab What about driving? Yes, that's the problem with siting an arena with thousands of parking spots at Brooklyn's worst intersection.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Times columnist suggests Brooklyn arena would be only 15 minutes from MSG. Nah.

New York Times Sports columnist Harvey Araton thinks the Atlantic Yards arena would be only 15 minutes by subway from Madison Square Garden, but he's off by about 100 percent--it's nearly twice as long a trip, according to HopStop (and likely even longer, given the underground passageway planned).
...

Click on the graphic to enlarge, and see the contradiction.

Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

February 1, 2011

Carmelo no longer Nets' problem as New Jersey chooses to move on

SI.com
by Chris Mannix

Maybe it was a coincidence. Maybe the Nets had been planning for weeks to display photos of the Barclays Center construction in a back hallway of the Prudential Center, a hallway that just happens to be the path that visiting players take on their way to the locker room. That it happened when the Denver Nuggets were in town, well, that was nothing more than a delicious irony.

"That was interesting," Carmelo Anthony said with a chuckle. "That was interesting."

Indeed, it seems even if New Jersey's basketball operations staff has abandoned the pursuit of Anthony -- and multiple sources continue to insist that they have -- minority owner Bruce Ratner's group continues to fuel the flames. It figures. The Barclays Center has been Ratner's Hell's Angels, an interminably long project that has encountered countless roadblocks along the way. Now that the finish line is within reach, sponsors must be wooed, season-ticket packages sold. Those jobs get exponentially easier with a superstar like Anthony on board.

But that's not going to happen. Not now, probably not ever. Ratner's team may not have believed Mikhail Prokhorov when he said the Nets were out of the Anthony sweepstakes. But Anthony did.

article

Posted by eric at 10:05 AM

January 28, 2011

Prok Speaks, Nets Listen: Owner’s Words Prove Prophetic As Brooklyn-Bound Franchise Heats Up

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

The Eagle — and Nets' coach Avery Johnson — are impressed by the inspirational skills of team owner Vince Lombardi Mikhail Prokhorov.

The Nets had lost six straight games, 11 of 12 and owned an ugly 10-31 record last week when Prokhorov pulled the plug on a potential blockbuster deal that would have landed Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony in Newark, and eventually Downtown Brooklyn.
...

Prokhorov, no stranger to the art of the business deal, flew in from Russia last Wednesday and insisted the Nets would no longer play the foil in Denver’s on-again, off-again discussions regarding a potential 14-player swap.

He even hinted that the eight Nets players whose names had been mentioned throughout the laborious process were suffering from the strain and tension of not knowing where they’d be playing at any given moment.
...

While some scoffed at the notion of the Nets, who won all of 12 games last season and barely avoided the distinction of being the worst NBA team ever, playing poorly because of the trade rumors, recent history indicates Prokhorov was right on point.
...

The Nets have since gone on to win four of their last five contests — their best stretch since 2009 — including Wednesday night’s come-from-behind 93-88 triumph over visiting Memphis.

Buoyed by their owner’s refusal to let the Anthony talks drag out, the Nets have clearly re-focused their attention on the hardwood.

“Right now the spirit of our team is at an all-time high, just in terms of all the things we’re tried to implement and trying to change this culture,” noted coach Avery Johnson, the man charged with carrying out Prokhorov’s vision of an NBA championship contender.

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NoLandGrab: Calm down, Coach. "An all-time high" might be a bit hyperbolic, given the Nets' 14-32 record. Their four recent wins came against teams with a combined 74-109 record, which, to be fair, represents a winning percentage a full 100 points better than that of Prokhorov's charges.

Posted by eric at 10:57 AM

January 27, 2011

NBA Team Valuations: #21 New Jersey Nets

Forbes.com

According to Forbes's annual rankings of NBA team finances, the Nets actually increased in value by 16% this year, but they have a whopping debt-to-value ratio of 224% — the only team in the league with more debt than equity.

The skinny
In May, 2010 Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov invested $293 million in equity for an 80% interest in the Nets, a 45% stake in Brooklyn Arena, LLC, the operating company that will run the team's new building, and up to 20% of Atlantic Yards Development LLC, which will develop real estate near the new Barclays Center arena. We estimate that the enterprise value for the team and arena comes to $365 million. The Nets plan to move into their state-of-the art facility in 2012 and are expected to see sponsorship, premium seating and concession revenues of $75 million a year, $60 million more than what the team received at the IZOD Center last season. Debt service on the new building, which was financed with $511 in PILOT bonds, will be between $27 million and $30 million a year.

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NoLandGrab: Can you guess the NBA's new most-valuable team? The New York Knicks.

Posted by eric at 9:19 AM

January 26, 2011

Nets coach is second-to-last in the standings, but standing tall with God

The Brooklyn Paper
by Gary Buiso

We'll save Norman Oder the trouble, and point out that while the Brooklyn Paper devotes ink to the preaching of the Nets' coach, it continues to ignore the Atlantic Yards EB-5 scam.

Praise the Lord and pass the roundball!

New Jersey Nets head man Avery Johnson delivered an impassioned sermon to an enthusiastic crowd at a Crown Heights church on Tuesday night, quoting from Proverbs and preaching about life — and predicting “pandemonium” when the team finally moves to Brooklyn.

“Have your applications ready,” Johnson advised the mostly black crowd at the First Baptist Church. “We’re bringing jobs, we’re bringing hope and excitement to Brooklyn!”

Avery’s squad barely has a prayer in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, where it has posted a 13-32 record — good for the less-than-inspirational second-to-last place.

“Everyone is telling me to keep my head up,” he said. “I’m not looking at New Jersey — I’ve got my eyes on Brooklyn!” he said to cheers.
...

The talk was organized by the Mighty Men of Valor, a ministry at the church, which is led by the father of former Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Clarence Norman Jr.

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NoLandGrab: Given the Nets' record, it's pretty obvious Johnson has taken his eye off New Jersey. So he might want to pray that he's still the coach should the Nets ever make it to Brooklyn.

Posted by eric at 10:59 AM

January 25, 2011

Cavaliers at Nets? Priceless (Almost)

The New York Times
by Benjamin Hoffman

For slightly less than the $2.50 cost of a single-ride MetroCard, a basketball fan could have treated himself and 21 of his friends to an N.B.A. game Monday night in Newark.

Early in the day, SlamOnline reported that tickets for the game between the Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers were selling for as little as 25 cents each on the online ticket seller StubHub.com. That seemed to set off a bit of a price war, with many tickets falling below that price. By the time the site shut down ticket sales, the least expensive seats available were listed at just 11 cents for the game between the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

With 22 tickets available at that price, the total to buy them would have been $2.42, though service and delivery fees would have increased the total purchase to a whopping $12.37. A single fan traveling from New York City would spend almost that much just getting to the game and back; transportation from Manhattan to the Prudential Center via New Jersey Transit costs $5 each way.

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NoLandGrab: And why, you might ask yourself, are New York's taxpayers kicking in more than a billion dollars to land a team for which the market demand is 11¢ a ticket?

Posted by eric at 4:19 PM

January 23, 2011

Mike Lupica, November 2005: "If Caring Bruce Ratner is still the owner of the Nets in five years, I'll eat my hat."

Atlantic Yards Report

New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica wrote 11/13/05:

If Caring Bruce Ratner is still the owner of the Nets in five years, I'll eat my hat.

A Nets hat, even.

He doesn't want the team.

He never really did.

He wants the land.

Dan Doctoroff thought he didn't have to buy people left and right to push his agenda with the West Side Stadium, he was Deputy Mayor.

Ratner was much smarter about all this, which is why he's got all these "community leaders" on scholarship now.

Lupica was right (though it doesn't look like he wrote a follow-up). The sale of a majority interest to Mikhail Prokhorov was announced in September 2009.

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Posted by steve at 11:26 AM

Dallas Mavericks beat Nets 87-86; former Net Jason Kidd wonders if move to Brooklyn will ever happen

New York Daily News
By Stefan Bondy

Jason Kidd sees fault in the Brooklyn strategy.

As the Nets continue their exhaustive search for Kidd's replacement - selling the outer borough to stars like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as a hip and trailblazing destination - the Mavs' guard spoke from experience last night when he said players can't see a future at the Barclays Center.

"Unless it's built, you can't believe it," Kidd said before Dallas edged the Nets, 87-86, courtesy of Dirk Nowitzki's game-winner with six seconds remaining. "Until it's built, guys can't, won't, believe it."

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Posted by steve at 11:19 AM

January 21, 2011

Mikhail Prokhorov calling off pursuit of Carmelo Anthony trade shows that Nets have begun new era

NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy

Mikhail Prokhorov sat in the press conference room at the Rock and owned it, just as he owns $17 billion worth in assets and a team of nondescript players unbecoming of his own personality. Just as he thought he could own Carmelo Anthony, with a simple pep talk and a new arena in Brooklyn.

Instead, his biggest moment as Net owner became a very public surrender, the waving of a white flag, as Prokhorov sold it as something far more proactive. Prokhorov is used to getting his way, but the business of the NBA is unlike anything he experienced while building an empire in post-communist Russia.

The players and their agents run the show here, at least until the collective bargaining agreement expires in July. And unfortunately for Prokhorov, the Nets still aren't the Knicks, no matter how much they trump up Brooklyn and distribute updates of the construction site in Atlantic Yards.

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Posted by eric at 10:48 AM

January 20, 2011

No ’Melo, just more drama for Nets

Yahoo! Sports
by Adrian Wojnarowski

Ouch.

Mikhail Prokhorov can unfurl his portrait murals on the sides of Manhattan skyscrapers and marvel over the construction of his new basketball palace in Brooklyn. The Russian billionaire can promise championship parades within five seasons and employ exhaustive research to dispose of the Nets moniker and unwrap something new to call his franchise.

Only, there’s no scrubbing away the residue of decades of dysfunction and disarray with the fresh paint job. There’s no scrubbing it all away with carefully orchestrated news magazine profiles. Prokhorov isn’t the NBA’s most mysterious man, but one more clumsy, clueless creation of the commissioner’s endless failure to resurrect this franchise. All his money and clout and global reach, and yet Prokhorov and his posse look like one more incompetent ownership group killing time and brain cells until the lockout.

It was a stunning, senseless and perfectly fitting performance for Prokhorov on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center: As full-of-it grandstanding ploys go, Prokhorov was brilliant. Once he sensed the Nets couldn’t convince Carmelo Anthony to sign a contract extension, that his trip to the Rockies would be met with one more failure as owner, he made a dramatic declaration the Nets were done recruiting a deal and out of the running for Anthony.

This was no white knight sashaying into the States on a horse, but a basketball dummy on a donkey.
...

One by one, they’re all passing over Prokhorov: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh. Carlos Boozer and Rudy Gay. A-listers and B-listers, and now ’Melo couldn’t be sold on the owner’s Brooklyn vision. Prokhorov was right to never get on the plane to avoid the public humiliation of ’Melo rejecting the Nets, so he used the bully pulpit on Russian Cultural Night in Newark to play the part of the bad-ass owner jetting in to take control of his franchise.

From the man whose charisma and mystique brought you Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro on the free-agent market, here was the white flag of surrender two months too late.
...

’Melo is probably on his way to the New York Knicks, the Russian is headed back to Moscow and the Nets remain a punch line. All these billions of dollars, all these big, shiny ideas and tough talk, and it never, ever changes.

Same old sitcom, same old shameful scene. Same old Nets.

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NoLandGrab: Unfortunately for Prokhorov, we're pretty sure his out clause expired when New York State handed the keys to Daniel Goldstein's home to Bruce Ratner.

Posted by eric at 11:33 AM

January 19, 2011

Prokhorov ends Nets’ pursuit of Anthony

Yahoo! Sports
by Adrian Wojnarowski

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

In a stunning and surreal declaration during a live, televised news conference, Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov declared his New Jersey Nets had canceled a planned Thursday meeting with Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony(notes) and ended the Nets’ part in the long, acrimonious trade talks for the All-Star forward.

“It’s been too long and too expensive,” Prokhorov said.

New Jersey general manager Billy King sent text messages to Denver and Detroit officials to tell them that talks of a proposed three-team trade that would’ve brought Anthony to the Nets were done.

When asked who had been driving the talks over the past several months, Prokhorov said, “It was purely on the basketball level.”

Nevertheless, sources insist the Nets’ ownership and marketing sides had been relentless proponents of bringing Anthony to New Jersey as a prelude to their planned move to a new arena in Brooklyn in 2012.

Marketing? Et tu, Yormark?

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NoLandGrab: Plan A, LeBron. Plan B, Dwyane Wade. Plan C, Chris Bosh. Plan D, 'Melo. Plan E, Teen Wolf?.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Yahoo columnist: Anthony deal, now off the table, was about marketing Brooklyn (and those unsold suites)

It can be tough to untangle the logic behind some basketball moves--did the Nets really want Yi Jianlian for his skills or for the China market?--and that issue has come up again, as the Nets have abandoned pursuit of Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony.

Posted by eric at 11:22 PM

January 17, 2011

Nets’ pitch to ’Melo: swing and miss?

Yahoo! Sports
by Adrian Wojnarowski

Mikhail Prokhorov is exactly halfway into his first season as Nets owner, and already, the bloom is off the oligarch.

The New Jersey Nets had strutted around so full of themselves: big talk, blustery billboards and puffed-up promises. Even so, no one bought into the myth of Mikhail Prokhorov the way they did within that forlorn franchise. The Nets treat the Russian owner like some deity, like a Euro Mark Cuban, when he’s little more than an absentee landlord cutting big checks and delivering delusional proclamations of championship parades inside of five seasons.

If the Nets truly need to sell Carmelo Anthony on accepting the trade and signing a contract extension, they’re a bigger lost cause than they’ve ever been. The Nets can’t let Prokhorov and Jay-Z get on a jet and go sell that now because this process has already cost them too much credibility – and because billionaires aren’t supposed to beg. Make no mistake: The manufactured aura of this ownership dream team will be obliterated with a ’Melo rejection.
...

The Nets’ suits need to sell sponsorships and fill a new arena in 2012 for a franchise that barely has a fan base in Jersey – never mind one that resonates across the Hudson River.

Yes, everyone senses desperation with these Nets – the Nuggets, ’Melo’s agents – and that’s for good reason. They’re selling and selling, but no one’s been buying the big, mysterious Russian billionaire who actually isn’t such a mystery after all. He doesn’t know the NBA. He doesn’t like the Internet because he says there’s too much information. He barely had any thoughts about who to hire or why. And he’s never around anyway.

Through it all this summer, New Jersey ran TV ads promoting salary-cap space. The Nets thrust bigger-than-life murals of ownership on the sides of skyscrapers and even shadowed Madison Square Garden with that Prokhorov/Jay-Z “Blueprint for Success” monstrosity. They taunted the Knicks, and promptly crumbled back to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

All of the bravado was wildly entertaining, and all of it completely without substance. Blueprint? There’s no blueprint, just a serious of shots in the dark.

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NoLandGrab: Wow, Brooklyn's getting all this, and it only cost we taxpayers a couple billion dollars? What a deal.

Related coverage...

NetsDaily, Woj: Prokhorov, Nets In Danger of Becoming Jokes If He Doesn't Return to New Jersey with 'Melo in Tow

Moreover, [Wojnarowski] says the Nets just keep giving in their trade talks. Now, they've agreed to add three first round picks (including two of their own) and Damion James to the list of Denver's settled demands, having already agreed to give up Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, etc., etc. " "The Nets are behaving in a most desperate way and trying too hard to validate Prokhorov’s relevance in the sport. Anthony treats the Nets like the unattractive girl he refuses to tell his friends he’s seeing on the side."

Meanwhile, other writers in other precincts tell similar tales of desperation on all sides of the 'Melo Drama.

NLG: Can't be long now before NetsDaily commenters start a movement to bring back the second-worst owner in sports.

Atlantic Yards Report, As Nets continue pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, the Prokhorov backlash

Posted by eric at 9:49 PM

Projecting the New Jersey Nets: Now and Later

Newark Examiner
by Gregory Hrinya

More NBA fantasy talk, involving potential trades and free-agent signings (remember how well that worked out this year?) that will thrust the Nets into the league's elite for their move to Brooklyn.

But will the deal happen? Absolutely.

While Anthony undoubtedly has reservations about playing with the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets, his own management is pushing him that way.

His agents, Leon Rose and William Wesley, want in on Mikhail Prokhorov's power and influence. While their whispers might sway the Nuggets star, the Nets' future surely will.
...

Rose and Wesley are preaching Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn billboards, and an owner with endless pockets. They're preaching a rivalry with the Knicks and a team, if not city, Melo can call his own.

Luring Chris Paul is just as crucial. Could it happen? Just ask Paul's agent.... Leon Rose.

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NoLandGrab: Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, the Nets are holding down the 4th-worst record in the NBA, which, it must be said, is an improvement on last season.

Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

January 13, 2011

Empire wing of mind! Jay-Z invests big in Downtown chicken joint

The Brooklyn Paper
by Andy Campbell

He’s not a businessman; he’s a business, man — and that’s why rapper Jay-Z’s investment in Downtown’s newest wing joint has already put it on the map.

The King of Brooklyn just dumped some cash-money — and his famous name — on his cousin’s three-month-old chicken wing spot, Buffalo Boss, near Flatbush Avenue Extension.
...

White wouldn’t disclose exactly how much was invested, but funding is a mute point once Mr. Z’s instantly recognizable moniker is tied to a business.

Take the Nets for example. The rapper formerly known as Shawn Carter was an original one-percent shareholder in the team — yet was paraded around by the ailing team’s ownership like he was the managing general partner. Jay-Z now owns a tiny fraction of that fraction — yet he’s still the public face of the Brooklyn-bound team as it prepares to move to the Barclays Center in Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development.

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Posted by eric at 10:06 AM

January 11, 2011

Window Closing Again on Melodrama

NetsAreScorching
by Mark Ginocchio

The bad soap opera otherwise known as the New Jersey Nets is taking its toll on fans. Take Mark Ginocchio, for example.

In a move that should surprise nobody who’s been following this saga since the Fall, new reports late last night indicate that talks between the Nets, Nuggets and Pistons are moving further and further away from the goal line and a Carmelo Anthony to Nets trade is in jeopardy.
...

From my perspective, the problem is this has become a lose-lose proposition. With reports out there that Mikhail Prokhorov apparently wants ‘Melo at any cost, even suggesting he would forgo an extension, the Nuggets have the Nets over a barrel with no leverage. If the Nets end up having to take on a contract like Al Harrington’s, just to make this deal happen, it would be a terrible deal from a cap flexibility perspective, and it would make it increasingly more difficult for the Nets to get Chris Paul in 2012, which I think should be the ultimate end game here. But the Nets have also come too far to watch this deal collapses. With 8 players on the roster rumored to move, this team is surely all but mentally lost right now, and if this talks last until the deadline in mid-February, the toxicity around this organization gets worse and worse.

Then there are the fear mongerers around the legitimate media and blogging community who believe if Anthony ends up as a Knick then Brooklyn “fails.” For one, what is the definition of failure here? Is construction going to stop in Brooklyn and Daniel Goldstein going to get his condo back? Would David Stern, after sticking his neck for Brooklyn, then Prokhorov, going to contract the Nets if they don’t sell out every game for their first five seasons? It’s a paranoid argument being used by those to capitalize on the inferiority complex of a fan base. I, for one, will continue to support this team with or without ‘Melo, New Jersey or Brooklyn. I root for the New Jersey Nets, not the stock price of Forest City Ratner, or Prokhorov’s Onexim.

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NoLandGrab: A political opponent once quipped about then-presidential candidate George H.W. Bush that he was "born on third base and thought he hit a triple." Well, it seems that Nets' owner Mikhail Prokhorov was handed a sweetheart deal on former Soviet state assets and thought he was a charismatic Russian Warren Buffett.

Posted by eric at 11:04 AM

December 25, 2010

LeBron Likes the Idea of NBA Contraction

The Big Lead

Here’s LeBron James talking about how contracting a couple – I say four – NBA teams could help the NBA:

“Just imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team,” he said. “Or, looking at some of the teams that’s not that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that’s not that good right now and add ‘em to a team that could be really good.

“I’m not saying, ‘Let’s take New Jersey, let’s take Minnesota out of the league.’ But, hey you guys are not stupid. I’m not stupid. I know what would be great for the league.”

Couldn’t agree more with LeBron. If it’ll help the league avoid a labor stoppage next summer, then contract four teams. How to determine who gets the ax? You can look at attendance figures, consecutive years of ineptitude, or at owners who don’t seem to give a shit.

If we were going to trim the league from 30 teams, we’d dial it back to 26. Four teams we’d target:

...

New Jersey Nets - Have more history than the two teams above, and their fortunes could change dramatically if they trade for Carmelo Anthony … but they’d be one of our four to go

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Posted by steve at 8:51 AM

December 24, 2010

LeBron James not a Nets' fan

Bergen Record

Do we smell an LBJ-Hova feud coming on?

LeBron James thinks the NBA is watered down and hinted that contraction of teams, including the Nets, might not be a bad idea.

Speaking to reporters before Thursday night's game against the Phoenix Suns, James defended his decision to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami by saying the league was more popular in the 1980s because there were more teams with multiple star players.
...

"Looking at some of the teams that aren't that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that aren't that good right now and you add him to a team that could be really good. Not saying let's take New Jersey and let's take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I'm not stupid, it would be great for the league."

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NoLandGrab: And the Nets wanted us to believe they actually had a shot at signing James?

Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

December 23, 2010

Prokhorov Tells Russian Media Nets Have "Explosive Profit Potential"

NetsDaily

In an interview published Thursday in Vedmosti, Russia's leading financial journal, Mikhail Prokhorov once again says the Nets will be NBA champions by 2015 and that his investment in the team and arena will be worth $700 million as soon as they move to Brooklyn in 2012. He also expects to earn an annual profit of $30 million in Brooklyn.

Prokhorov called the Nets a "project with explosive profit potential" noting, "We have a team, we're building the arena, we've hired professional management". He adds that he also holds an option to buy part (20%) of the overall Atlantic Yards. As for the current situation, the Nets' owner tries to divert the interviewer from their on-court problems by playfully noting they have just added draft picks!

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NoLandGrab: As they say in Moscow, yada yada yada. And he forgot to reiterate his claim that they would make the playoffs this season.

Posted by eric at 6:26 PM

December 22, 2010

The Brooklyn New Yorkers? - Found in connection with IN THE FOOTPRINT

THE CIVILIANS BLOG

It looks like the current new name for The New Jersey Nets when they move into the Barclays Stadium in Brooklyn is THE BROOKLYN NEW YORKERS.
...

Too bad they didn't ask our audinece members at the Let Me Ascertain You: Atlantic Yards cabaret, where we asked our audience members what they thought would make a good team name. Some suggestions were:

The Daniel Goldsteins
The Brooklyn Baby-Strollers
and
The New York Nyets

not to mention the suggestion in In the Footprint of the New York Chipmunks.

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Posted by eric at 10:35 AM

December 20, 2010

Nets battle perceptions?

NetsDaily

Even as Barclays Center construction goes horizontal as well as vertical –with steel for the first floor being installed last week– there remains within the sports industry, and among the team’s fans, confusion about the move to Brooklyn.

Sports Business Journal reports the perception of a clouded future has caused the organization to hire an ad agency with the sole purpose of making sure everyone knows “we’re here and there’s a lot going on.” The first step was a reception last week, hosted by Bruce Ratner and Nets chairman Christophe Charlier, to dispel the confusion and let 100 sponsors and season ticket holders know the arena will be done by summer of 2012.

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Related coverage...

SportsBusiness Journal, Barclays Center pitch: We’re here and have a lot going on [Trial subscription required]

Last week, Barclays Center officials gathered their business partners for what was billed as the first corporate summit for the long-delayed 19,500-seat Brooklyn arena, scheduled to open in 2012.

NoLandGrab: Hope this ad campaign works better than their Knicks-taunting effort, as the rejuvenated 16-12 Knicks are playing to sold-out MSG crowds while the woeful (again) 8-20 Nets find themselves last in the league in attendance. Maybe Brett Yormark should spend a little less time talking to NY Times reporters and a little more time working his "genius."

Posted by eric at 10:22 AM

December 18, 2010

NJ/BKN NETS ~ C'Mon!? Brooklyn New Yorkers? Really?

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger

Of all the things to be outraged concerning Atlantic Yards (eminent domain abuse, a sweetheart deal, etc.), this has to be near the bottom of the list.

Don't even waste my time; It's Brooklyn or nothing! Anything other than Brooklyn will be a colossal mistake. A populace of 2.5 million should play second fiddle to no one.

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Posted by steve at 8:05 AM

December 17, 2010

Roman Abramovich just a ‘poor’ relation to compatriot rolling into town

London Evening Standard
by Michael Weinstein

Forget William and Kate — Londoners can hardly contain themselves in anticipation of the big March showdown between the Nets and Toronto Raptors, two teams battling for last place in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will briefly lose his status as the richest Russian in town when the New Jersey Nets' Moscow contingent roll into London next March.

Abramovich (£7.1billion) trails Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov (£8.5bn) in the Forbes rich list, although neither can hold a candle to Russia's mightiest oligarch, Vladimir Lisin, the 32nd richest man in the world with a £10bn fortune.

Chris Charlier, the Nets chairman who represents Prokhorov on the boards of six Russian companies, vowed: “Mikhail will be there in London.

“We'll come in force from Moscow and there will be a big Russian contingent. We're still in the process of getting Russia's people to think of the Nets as Russia's team and London is a big part of getting that done.”
...

The former owner of CSKA Moscow's football and basketball set-up had to pass stringent NBA tests before he was voted in by his new peers in the summer.

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NoLandGrab: If by "pass stringent NBA tests" they mean "prove that he wasn't Bruce Ratner, then by all means, yes he did.

Posted by eric at 10:51 AM

'Brooklyn New Yorkers' Is a Terrible, Terrible NBA Team Name

The Atlantic Wire
by Ray Gustini

Seriously?

Nets Daily, which broke the story, notes attorneys from the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton "sought trademark protection for the name, "Brooklyn New Yorkers", three logos featuring either a basketball or a basketball player and the Brooklyn Bridge and even a slogan, "We Come to Play." In each case, the trademark sought is for clothing including among other things: shirts, jerseys, jackets, athletic uniforms, headbands, hats, caps and footwear." Additionally, the domain name brooklynnewyorkers.com was recently registered through a proxy service.

Basketball fans struggled to contain their aesthetic outrage.

Click below if you want links to any more of this silliness.

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NoLandGrab: By comparison, that logo almost makes the arena attractive.

Posted by eric at 10:37 AM

December 16, 2010

Could the NJ Nets Become the Brooklyn New Yorkers? Fuggedaboutit!

NBC New York
by Jonathan Eiseman

The New Jersey Nets are a team that has been going through a lot of changes. A new owner in Mikhail Prokorov, new players in Sasha Vujacic, and a possible new home in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards. Could a new name come along with that?

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NoLandGrab: For the record, our favorite name choice remains the New Jersey Nets.

Posted by eric at 10:07 AM

December 14, 2010

’Tis the Season
Nets Giving Away Toys, and Wins, During Holidays

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

Though things have been tough on the court for the New Jersey (soon-to-be-Brooklyn) Nets of late, that didn’t prevent starting center Brook Lopez, rookie forward Derrick Favors and reserve players Ben Uzoh, Quinton Ross, Stephen Graham and Joe Smith from spreading a little holiday cheer in our fair borough Monday.
...

New Jersey has dropped a season-high seven in a row and nine of 11 to slip into last place in the Atlantic Division at 6-18 after beginning the campaign with the promise of a new coach, Avery Johnson, and new ownership in Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

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NoLandGrab: Make that 6-19. Didn't Mikhail Prokhorov guarantee the play-offs this season?

Posted by eric at 9:28 PM

Nets donate toys to children at Borough Hall, with sponsorship; press release generates coverage

Atlantic Yards Report

In case you're wondering how an event generates "news" (such as coverage in the New York Post's Brooklyn blog and Prospect Heights Patch), consider this press release, issued by the New Jersey Nets and then by Borough President Marty Markowitz's office.

Note that Brook Lopez got bumped up to "star" in the headline, and the entire cast, most of them unknowns, were deemed "stars" in Patch, which did manage to get some candor from Lopez about how a sports team's move is "always tough."

Note the role of the Salvation Army, which has sent representatives to public hearings to support the Atlantic Yards project.

Also note the hand of marketer Brett Yormark, who manages to shoehorn in another Nets sponsor to get some publicity. Paging Daniel Boorstin?

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Posted by eric at 11:02 AM

December 13, 2010

Are The New Jersey Nets Set To Become The 'Brooklyn New Yorkers'?

SB Nation
by Andrew Sharp

We just checked the calendar, which swears it's not April 1st.

Mikhail Prokhorov arrived on America's with big dreams and plan to make the New Jersey Nets the hottest ticket in the NBA. It takes time, though. One awesome billboard across from the Knicks isn't going to change decades of history. But moving to Brooklyn, with a state-of-the-art arena and a new name? That might do the trick.

Unless, of course, you opt for a nickname like the "Brooklyn New Yorkers." And according to SB Nation's Nets Daily, it certainly looks like they're leaning in that direction:

On September 30, two lawyers associated with a large Philadelphia law firm sought trademark protection for the name, "Brooklyn New Yorkers", three logos featuring either a basketball or a basketball player and the Brooklyn Bridge as well as a slogan, "We Come to Play".

[...] Separately, the url, brooklynnewyorkers.com, has also been registered in recent months. The url was registered through a proxy domain register. The owner is not identified.

HOLD UP: Are these people serious?

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Posted by eric at 11:09 PM

Nets deliver toys to Brooklyn children

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder

Now here's a heart-warming story after that eminent domain downer.

Nets star Brook Lopez and four teammates came to their future home borough today to dish out 1,100 toys for Brooklyn children.

Lopez and teammates Derrick Favors, Damion James, Ben Uzoh, Quinton Ross, Stephen Graham, and Joe Smith gathered at Brooklyn Borough Hall for a holiday party where they helped distribute toys for needy children from five Salvation Army community centers in Brooklyn.

Wow, a veritable who's who? of NBA stars.

The toys were donated by the Barclays/Nets Community Alliance, which includes a partnership among Barclays, the Nets and Forest City Ratner Companies. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and representatives of The Salvation Army and National Grid also attended the event.

"Every year during the Holiday season we celebrate and are thankful for what we have," said developer Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies. "There is no better way to do this than by remembering and helping those who are less fortunate.”

He means "thankful for what we have been given by the State of New York, and the City. And the "better way" would be to give it back.

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NoLandGrab: We wonder how many kids ended up in tears when they realized Amar'e Stoudemire wasnt coming?

Related coverage...

Prospect Heights Patch, Nets Players Distribute Gifts to Delighted Children

Asked how he felt about moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Lopez said. "Everybody has been welcoming, it's been a very positive experience."

But when prodded, Lopez admitted the move is bittersweet. "Whenever a sports team switches locations it's always tough," he said, adding, "Hopefully the way we have been playing will be good enough to have a few fans come with us."

6-18? Where do we sign up?

But 8-year-old Malakai Williams, of Bushwick, seemed less than impressed.

After getting her basketball autographed by Lopez, she said LeBron James was her favorite player, adding, with a sigh, "I wish he could be here."

New Jersey Nets Press Release, NETS C Lopez and Teammates to Deliver Toys to Brooklyn Children

Posted by eric at 10:55 PM

December 9, 2010

Times profile of Brett and Michael Yormark: in response to "opponents of the arena," twins "sniff at their critics"

Atlantic Yards Report

In an article headlined in print "Yormark Twins Put Their Marks on Nets and Panthers" and online as Twins that Look Alike, and Work Alike, the New York Times Sports section offers a predictable profile of uber-marketers Brett Yormark of the basketball Nets and Michael Yormark of the Florida Panthers hockey team.

(The article does come with an oddly dismaying photo of the twins at a Nets game, busy with their Blackberries, while Brett's children look off into the crowd.)
...

Meanwhile, reporter Ken Belson, practicing "he said, she said" journalism, doesn't try to evaluate what [Daniel] Goldstein said.

Yormark has moved the goalpoasts, as I described in a January 2009 post that weaved together several statements, embedded below.

article

Posted by eric at 4:50 PM

Twins that Look Alike, and Work Alike

The New York Times
by Ken Belson

Must be a slow news day at The Times, which, almost inconceivably, spills yet more ink on Brett Yormark, CEO of the New York metro area's losingest pro sports team. And they toss in his brother as a bonus.

As salesmen, the identical twins talk relentlessly about the future, perhaps for good reason: The Nets won just 12 games last season, and the Panthers have not made the playoffs in a decade. They seem to relish the uphill battles, and they seem uninterested in joining big-name teams that would be easier to sell.

Big-name teams, which, no doubt, have not offered them jobs.

“We’ve both worked for franchises that are challenged, which breeds more creativity and competitiveness,” Brett said. “We’ve made the most of it.”

Detractors, including executives at rival clubs, contend that the Yormarks chase too many small deals. One sports consultant said last year that the Nets devalued their brand by giving away reversible jerseys with a Nets player on one side and stars like Kobe Bryant on the other side. Michael takes heat from Canadians opposed to any hockey team in Florida, while Brett has been criticized by opponents of the arena the Nets are building in Brooklyn.

“We, who have observed him, have learned not to take him at his word,” said Daniel Goldstein, a co-founder of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. “He, along with other people involved with the Nets and the Brooklyn arena, have moved the goal posts numerous times.”

The Yormarks sniff at their critics. “There are benefits of working in nontraditional environments,” Michael said. “I like to wake up in the morning and be ultracreative. It’s forced us to diversify.”

article

NoLandGrab: "Wake up in the morning?" Wait, we thought the Yormark boys went to bed in the morning and woke up in the evening on their way to working 36 hour days. Just ask them.

Posted by eric at 4:38 PM

December 1, 2010

He Shall Overcome: Jay-Z Is $450 M Beyond the Marcy Projects. Where Does He Go From Here?

NY Observer
by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah

Another installment in "The Legend of Jay-Z," almost as long as his new book.

He vacations in the South of France; he makes songs with Coldplay's Chris Martin about sitting in his beach chair; and he cracks jokes over dinner with Bill Clinton. In the years since he divided his record label and clothing kingdom, Roc-A-Fella Records and Rocawear, between himself and his former partners, Jay-Z has spread his money and influence out into the city. From 2004 to 2007, he was president of the record company Def Jam. He is a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets with Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov and in on their Barclays Center project in Brooklyn. Jay-Z holds a 1.5 percent stake in the team.
...

At the groundbreaking, Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Mr. Ratner sat together on the platform. Everyone was smiling, and then Marty Markowitz, the bouncy Brooklyn borough president, stepped forward anxiously to introduce Jay-Z and gush over his beautiful wife. Cluelessly, Mr. Markowitz then praised him for making it from "bricks to billboards." Sure, it was an allusion to one of Jay-Z's lyrics, but bricks is one of the better-known slang terms for packages of cocaine. Jay-Z's very formidable face froze and then bulged with shock. One wonders if he will ever be able to leave the bricks behind. If anyone will ever let him. When I emailed Marty Markowitz for a comment, he emailed me a paragraph that once again mentioned "bricks to billboards." It is hard to know if Jay-Z's past is a concern to him in business. Maybe he doesn't even care.

article

Posted by eric at 9:40 AM

November 30, 2010

N.J. Nets vs. N.Y. Knicks ~ Don't Ignore The Buzz

New York Knicks vs. New Jersey Nets: You're Lying If You Don't Believe There's A Different Buzz About This Now.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger

The naysayers can down-play this all they want. "They" will point to the fact the 6-11 Nets still play in front of sparse crowds in Newark and to their abysmal record last season. The Nets also had their off-season hopes unrealized to a large extent while the Knicks overhauled their roster with 10 new players including Amare Stoudemire. I will cede the fact this is not the sexiest rivalry in the Metro area, the NBA, or in Sports. I know. The fact both franchises have struggled mightily in recent years pretty much means both teams and fan bases are starting from scratch in a sense. The Nets had to dismantle their Conference Championship teams and drifted into obscurity out in the No-Man's MeadowLands. The Knicks' fan base just wanted to get as far away from the Isiah Thomas Inferno as possible. Madison Square Garden even "had to" initiate a complete renovation because of the damage wrought by Demolition Zeke. And of course, the building of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn should not go under-spoken.
...

What started when Bruce Ratner announced plans to bring the team to Brooklyn was just a flare in the middle of nowhere. No one ever could get a feel for the news with all the "what ifs". But, here we are. I drove by the Barclays site today. There's steal beams rising like mighty Red Woods. We build from this and keep moving forward.

link

NoLandGrab: [Yawn.] We're sorry — what did you say? [Yawn.] BTB must be mistaking our snoring for buzz.

Posted by eric at 10:48 PM

The Knicks Aren’t About to Let the Nets Claim Brooklyn for Themselves

New York Magazine
by Joe DeLessio

More Knicks vs. Nets foolishness.

Remember how, back during the height of LeBronmaina, the Nets erected a billboard near Madison Square Garden with the heading "The Blueprint for Success?" It appears the time has come for the Knicks to fight back with some targeted marketing of their own. Earlier this month, the Knicks erected a Brooklyn-specific billboard just blocks from Atlantic Yards, the future site of the Nets' new arena. (You can read about the billboard here; just don't spend too much time reflecting on this quote, from a concerned hoops fan from Bed-Stuy: "Putting a billboard up like that so close to the Barclays Center, it's like putting a mosque near Ground Zero. I'm up in arms about this.") Then over the weekend, MSG — which, like the Knicks, is owned by the Dolans — aired a commercial for tomorrow's Knicks-Nets game in which the narrator explains, "Hey Nets, you can walk like us, you can talk like us, but you ain't never gonna be like us." Your move, Prokhorov.

link

Posted by eric at 10:00 AM

November 29, 2010

Knicks or Nets? Yawn.

The Brooklyn Paper

Two bloggers, who blog about the Knicks and Nets, debate why Brooklynites should root for their respective teams, in a waste of Brooklyn Paper bandwidth.

Nets will become Brooklyn
by Jaime Oppenheim

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and minor owner Jay-Z speak the borough’s language: swagger. They are unapologetically and unrelentingly authentic in everything they do. The duo’s “Blueprint for Greatness” marketing campaign had less to do with puffery and more to do with stating intentions. The Nets are going to reach the same heights Prokhorov and Jay-Z have reached in building their respective empires. It’s not arrogance, it’s confidence. It’s Brooklyn.

In the end, the battle for Brooklyn’s basketball fandom isn’t likely to be determined on the court. Neither the Nets nor the Knicks are poised for substantial success in the immediate future. Your basketball allegiance will come down to which organization you feel most connected to. When the Nets move into the Barclays Center in 2012, their foundation will settle deep into Brooklyn’s soil, all the way down to the open wound left when the Dodgers were uprooted and moved to Los Angeles over 50 years ago.

NoLandGrab: Authentic? Like dropping Shawn Carter for Jay-Z?

Nets are carpetbaggers
by Mike Kurylo

In order to convince Brooklynites to stay loyal to the New York Knicks, I could portray the New Jersey Nets as “carpetbaggers.” The Reconstruction-era term describes those that move to a new location to exploit the locals. I could mention that the Nets are unstable with regards to their location, having multiple homes during their short existence (Long Island Arena, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Rutgers Athletic Center, and Izod Center). I could imply that Brooklyn will be their new home until their next new home, and like the Dodgers before them they could head for another city. I could mention the Nets miserable history, and as bad as the Knicks have been recently the Nets have been worse. Just last year, the Nets lost a franchise high 70 games.

Posted by eric at 8:52 AM

November 28, 2010

New Jersey Nets: 3 Men Get Thorn Out

Bleacher Report
by Leslie Monteiro

Former Nets President Rod Thorn must really miss working with marketing "genius" Brett Yormark.

When Rod Thorn left the Nets this summer, something was not right. He would not have left the franchise in turmoil. He's not a quitter.

Thorn was eager to work for Mikhail Prokhorov, the Nets' new owner. He knew he could win with the billionaire's money. Unfortunately, that marriage was shorter than Tony Parker and Eva Longoria's.

When Thorn took the Sixers job this summer, people had questions about his decision. The answer came when he told New York Post's Peter Vecsey that he hated working for Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

Yormark fired back, saying the Nets have work to do after Rod's 12-70 season last year. Those were fighting words by both men, and it became clear that Thorn's departure was ugly.
...

Yormark's assertion on Thorn is amusing. Only he knows why he thinks he is the expert. He was hired to market the team, but he failed miserably. Now he thinks he can operate a franchise?

If one guy has to go, it's Yormark. He embarrassed the organization by yelling at a fan last year. He ripped fans for not going to games. He did everything possible to alienate people in New Jersey by marketing to New Yorkers.

What does Prokhorov see in him? Yormark has done a fine job of BSing his way for years. He is part of the problem. Unless he goes, this franchise will go nowhere.

article

Posted by eric at 9:35 PM

November 23, 2010

New Jersey Nets Looking Bad in 2010-2011

FSN Sports

Something's lost in translation here, but the bottom line is that the Nets are still bad.

NBA wagering on-line woes could not get any worse to the New Jersey Nets following they went 12-70 survive season in 1 from the worst seasons from the history of your NBA. The Nets have opened at the on the web sportsbook as a +9500 longshot to acquire the NBA title, but there is lengthy term optimism towards the long term.

New Owner — Bruce Ratner was not just one particular of the worst owners inside the NBA, he’s 1 in the worst owners in all of sports. Ratner is finally out as he simply lacked the bucks to create a legitimate go of it plus the Nets are now owned by Russian businessman Mikhail Prokhorov. The brand new ownership has the money to bankroll a contender and ground has been broken on a brand new arena in Brooklyn. Prokorov has talked about a 5 year window for the Nets winning a title and that might be a small ambitious.

link

Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

November 22, 2010

Six Months Into "The Prokhorov Era", He and Nets Rebuilding...Patiently

NetsDaily

"Net Income" continues his love affair with Mikhail Prokhorov.

It's been six months (and nine losses in 13 games) since Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets from Bruce Ratner after what seemed to be an interminable wait.

Prokhorov has invested or committed about a half billion in the Nets, when the amounts he paid for pieces of the team and arena ($200 million), agreed to pay off in corporate debt ($175 million), accepted in future losses ($60 million) and invested in arena infrastructure ($77 million) are tallied up. Then, there's the $4 million he's committed to break the lease at the IZOD Center and the millions he's invested in basketball operations.

Most of that money, say team insiders, has long been transferred or spent.

Is he getting his moneys' worth? In terms of product on the court, no, not yet. In terms of positive publicity for his worldwide businesses, oh yes. It's inconceivable that "60 Minutes", the New York Times Sunday Magazine or Bloomberg TV would have spent so much time on him if he was still just the gold and aluminum baron of Siberia. As he has said, it's the best business card in the world.

So how goes "The Prokhorov Era" for Nets fans? Tighten the straps on your hard hat. Lots of work left to do.
...

And while "The Rock" is a dramatic improvement over the Izod, the Nets rank 28th in raw attendance and 24th in percentage of seats filled...in spite of big discount deals with ticket re-sellers. Jay-Z has only been to one game. To make matters worse, the Knicks just had their most successful West Coast swing ever while the Nets had a frustrating, mediocre run in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. So much for the "Blueprint for Greatness".

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Posted by eric at 8:55 AM

November 16, 2010

Knicks to Brooklyn: We are your team

The Brooklyn Paper
by Joe Melillo and Stephen Brown

Remarkably, the Brooklyn Paper devoted two reporters to this non-story.

The New York Knicks have decided that it’s not enough to battle the Nets on the court — the team is now taking the fight to the streets of Brooklyn in hopes of recruiting fans of the soon-to-be-Brooklyn Nets.

A huge billboard at Flatbush and Seventh avenues urges drivers on their way towards the Barclays Center site to defect to the Manhattan-based basketball team.

The local intelligentsia is up in arms.

“Putting a billboard up like that so close to the Barclays Center, it’s like putting a mosque near Ground Zero,” said basketball fanatic Chris Tucker of Bedford-Stuyvesant. “I’m up in arms about this.”
...

“We’re insulted because the Knicks are coming in here while we’re trying to get a basketball team,” said Flatbush resident Chiloupe Washington.

Seriously?

article

Additional (believe it or not) coverage...

Gothamist, Knicks Invade Atlantic Yards with New Billboard

Photo: Joseph Melillo/The Brooklyn Paper

Posted by eric at 8:34 AM

November 15, 2010

"Our history is the borough right now": the Nets' selling point is their new home's "authentic" history

Atlantic Yards Report

A Wall Street Journal article today, headlined Selling Tickets the New Jersey Way, contrasts the two teams playing in Newark's Prudential Center:

Their starkest difference relates to their home state; the Devils have embraced New Jersey, while the Nets are increasingly shifting their focus to a future in Brooklyn that is slated to begin in the 2012-2013 season at a new arena in Atlantic Yards.

"Unfortunately, New Jersey never gave the team enough support on a consistent basis," said Fred Mangione, the Nets senior vice president of ticket sales and marketing, though he added, "We market and sell in New Jersey like we're never leaving."

Still, the team's Midtown headquarters is an ode to the outerborough. The team may be pitching wealthy potential suite-holders from Manhattan in Manhattan, but the marketing pitch is all Brooklyn.

Of course, the Nets' attachment to Brooklyn is all manufactured. As I explained last June, the Barclays Center markets "brownstone" and "loft" suites, and a canvas bag distributed at the groundbreaking places the giant arena next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

"New residents are using this idea of authenticity to soften their entrance into Brooklyn," observed academic and former Brooklynite Jonathan Silverman at the Dreamland Pavilion conference in October 2009.
...

Of course, to establish that history they had to demolish buildings with their own history, such as the Spalding sporting goods factory recycled into handsome lofts or the Ward Bakery, moribund but certainly with significant potential for rehabilitation, as with a Newark cousin.

article

Posted by eric at 12:53 PM

Selling Tickets the New Jersey Way

The Wall Street Journal
by Sophia Hollander

An article about the ticket-selling challenges faced by the New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey Nets is most noteworthy for this factoid: the Nets may actually have managed to unsell some Barclays Center suites in the past four months!

"It's all about Brooklyn and it's all about the building," said [Fred] Mangione [Nets senior vice president of ticket sales and marketing], who said the team has commitments for 30 suites, though they have not begun selling regular tickets to the new building. "Yes, the team is there, but it's just as important for us to pitch the concerts and the boxing and everything else."

Regular readers of NoLandGrab or Atlantic Yards Report will recall this AYR item from July 12:

Either Nets Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark was spinning very, very hard back in 2008 or Nets suite sales have really slowed down--or both.

Since May 2008, 26 months ago, they've only sold nine suites, by my count, given that 26 were sold to insiders and the total sold is now 35.

(It's also possible that some who initially committed have backed out.)

Opening promises

On 5/5/08, Crain's New York Business reported:

Already, 20% of the 130 luxury boxes have been sold to “friends and family,” says Nets Sports Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark.

That's 26 suites.

In an 11/17/08 interview with the never-skeptical Alexis Glick of Fox Business News, Yormark stated, "We’ll be in Brooklyn for the 11-12 NBA season. We’ll probably be in Brooklyn actively in the summer of 2011. So give us a little time to gain some traction. We’ve presold our suites to the tune of about 30 percent."

That would mean 39 suites, if the total at that time was still 130. Or that would mean 30 suites, if the number had dipped to 100 (as was announced ten months later, in September 2009).

article

Posted by eric at 12:40 PM

November 10, 2010

Nets to Become "Brooklyn Ballers"? Fuggedaboutit! Says Team

NetsDaily

Sam Amico of FOX Sports quotes a Nets "insider" as saying the team won't be known as the Nets once they move to Brooklyn, and that "Brooklyn Ballers" is one name being "floated". Amico adds that the team will have to be called "Brooklyn". The Knicks "don't want another 'New York,' and word is, they made a stink about it." Amico adds that he prefers "Brooklyn Dodgers".

Before the Nets-Cavaliers game reached halftime, a team spokesman called the report totally false.

link

NoLandGrab: Our guess is that, given yesterday's court ruling, the team will be called the New Jersey Nets.

Posted by eric at 8:54 AM

November 7, 2010

Nets tickets on deep discount via Groupon

Atlantic Yards Report

It's no surprise that tickets to Nets games can be had for a song; after all, as the Record reported upon the season opener, those looking online could find a "$200 list-price ticket for $50, a $40 ticket for $10, or a $20 ticket for an amazing 47 cents."

Yesterday, Nets tickets went on sale via the Groupon group buying service, offering $100 list price tickets for $35 and $200 tickets for $75. Spectators can choose from five different weekday/Sunday games against the Atlanta Hawks, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Washington Wizards.

The deal "tipped" (reached the minimum) yesterday with 50 bought; now the total is 759. Every little bit must help, from the Nets' perspective, but that's still fewer than 152 tickets per game.

Is the failure to sell more tickets a sign that Newark and environs is unready to support the Nets? That the team isn't compelling? That "sports entertainment" has a rather high cost? I suspect the latter more than anything.

link

NoLandGrab: The most interesting thing about the Nets continues to be the owner.

Posted by steve at 1:17 PM

November 6, 2010

Tracy Collins breaks it down: the Knicks' "You Us We Now" Brooklyn outreach

Atlantic Yards Report

Click on the graphics to enlarge, and click here and here for Tracy Collins's photos, taken at Atlantic Avenue near Cumberland Street, at the border of Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, and Seventh and Flatbush Avenues in Park Slope.

The former is actually in the Atlantic Yards footprint, on a building that's supposed to be torn down--but we'll see.

The Knicks are reaching out to YOU (the Republic of Brooklyn) with US (the original ball team of the Empire State), claiming WE (are unstoppable together), and that NOW (is the time to represent), and that BROOKLYN STAND UP.

They're clearly trying to (re)assert their foothold in an area that will be primed with Nets propaganda for years to come.

link

Additional coverage...

Prospect Heights Patch, Knicks Erect Banner in Atlantic Yards

Nets Daily, Knicks Increasing Brooklyn Presence

Posted by steve at 12:48 PM

October 31, 2010

Some revisionist history on the Nets' effort to land LeBron James; they were out of the running even though they said the opposite

Atlantic Yards Report

With the benefit of some hindsight, let's reconstruct the New Jersey Nets' ill-fated pursuit of superstar free agent LeBron James.

We've long known that, on 7/1/10, Nets' brass and owner Mikhail Prokhorov flew to Cleveland to meet with James.

Now we know, according to the New York Post's Fred Kerber, in an article headlined How Nets went LeBust come ‘Decision’ time, they didn't get very far:

“We never got any correspondence from LeBron’s camp after the first meeting,” [Nets official Bobby] Marks said. “When it was a three-, four-day stretch that we didn’t hear, we knew we were out.”

By the morning of July 6, the Nets heard the bad news through backchannels. One hour before James’ July 8 “The Decision” show, [agent Leon] Rose called [Nets GM Rod] Thorn and said the Nets were eliminated.

Looking back

But what were Kerber and others in the press reporting at the time?

Kerber reported July 7, in an article headlined Nets in LeBron holding pattern:

The Nets feel they remain in the LeBron running -- "We're still at the table," Thorn said.

That's just the way the game is played.

link

Posted by steve at 7:08 PM

October 28, 2010

As Times Magazine buffs Prokhorov, Nets tickets in Newark go for pennies

Atlantic Yards Report

I'll have more in a bit on the more-hagiographic-than-not New York Times Magazine cover story on Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, but consider that even the oligarch's presence in Newark last night (where the Nets won their opener) didn't drive attendance.

From John Brennan in The Record's Meadowlands Matters blog, a piece headlined Tickets for sporting events at rock-bottom prices:

But for tonight's Nets-Detroit Pistons NBA regular-season opener — the first for the Nets in their temporary Prudential Center home in Newark — fans who know where to look online can find a $200 list-price ticket for $50, a $40 ticket for $10, or a $20 ticket for an amazing 47 cents.

In a follow-up, Brennan pointed out that Newark Mayor Cory Booker has tried to liken his city to Oklahoma City, which snagged a permanent team after hosting the New Orleans Hornets after Hurricane Katrina.

But the turnout, even with cheap tickets, was low:

The crowd was listed at 15,178, but at the Izod Center the Nets traditionally listed their crowd (which accounts for tickets distributed) about 2,500 higher than actual turnstile attendance (pretty typical in the NBA). So this crowd was not close to the 17,000 that Booker talked about beforehand.

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Posted by eric at 11:22 PM

October 27, 2010

Nets’ Top Attraction May Be Prokhorov

The New York Times
by Ken Belson

More hard-hitting coverage of Mikhail Prokhorov from The New York Times.

The Knicks have had a lot of reason to cheer Timofey Mozgov, their new Russian center who had an impressive preseason and figures to play a prominent role on the team this season.

But Mozgov is not the only tall Russian involved in basketball around New York. Fans will likely see a lot of Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the new owner of the Nets, who has promised to turn last season’s 12-win team into a championship-winning club.

Prokhorov lives in Moscow, but plans to attend about a quarter of the Nets’ home games at the Prudential Center in Newark this season. That includes the first three games, against the Pistons on Wednesday, the Kings on Friday and LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Prokhorov will not sit courtside like Mark Cuban in Dallas. Instead, he will keep to his owner’s box, where he can survey his team, which cost him $200 million and includes a 45 percent stake in the Barclays Center, the Nets’ new home in Brooklyn.

article

Posted by eric at 12:19 PM

October 26, 2010

The Empire Strikes Back!

NetsDaily

Last July, you may recall, the Nets angered Jimmy Dolan by papering over the side of a building opposite the Garden with their 1,200 square foot "Blueprint for Greatness" poster. Now, reports the Brooklyn Trolley Dodger blog, Dolan has struck back!

On the side of a wall inside the footprint of the Atlantic Yards, the Knicks have put up a much smaller wall poster, featuring Amare Stoudemire in front of the Manhattan ...not Brooklyn... Bridge. It reads, "Brooklyn Represent - You, Us, We, Now".

link

Related coverage...

Slam Online, Knicks/Nets Billboard Rivalry Continues to Rage

The stakes (and weirdness) continue to get raised between the marketing departments of New Jersey and New York’s pitiful basketball teams.

Rap Radar, NY Knicks Net Billboard In Brooklyn

Now, the Knickerbockers have fired back and plastered a poster with Amar’e Stoudemire near Atlantic Yards, the future locale of the Brooklyn Nets. Checkmate, Hov!

Photo: Brooklyn Trolley Dodger

Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

October 19, 2010

Rivals Not the Only Ones Delighted to See the Nets

The New York Times
by Richard Pérez-Peña

The Times must have blocked access to Atlantic Yards Report and NoLandGrab in its newsroom, because it keeps writing fluff about the Nets without a word about Bruce Ratner's green cards-for-cash fundraising scam.

Take a sports team with the worst record and worst attendance in its league. Move it to a new town with a rough reputation. Make it clear in advance that the franchise will stay just a couple of years before relocating again.

It would be easy to forecast a chilly reception in the team’s temporary home. But as the Nets begin a scheduled two-year stint at the Prudential Center here before decamping for the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, there are hints of a surprising warm embrace.

However...

Some people here agree with Julian Rosales, a college student, who said of the Nets, “They’re just using us for a while.”

article

Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

October 11, 2010

Prokhorov Flies Nets to Moscow for Pep Talk on Global Ambitions

Bloomberg
by Yuriy Humber

Speaking of fluff, Bloomberg reports on the Nets' "global ambitions" while, like The New York Times, ignoring Bruce Ratner's global green cards-for-cash scam.

Nets point guard Devin Harris said he wants to learn more about the owner and how he earned his fortune early on in life, Harris said.

“It’s not just that he’s Russian,” Harris said in an interview. “He’s proven to be the best in pretty much anything that he’s touched and he has a feel for the game. Those things are recipes for success.”
...

Prokhorov’s approach to business and marketing drive could help the Nets players as much off-court and in their game, said Nets guard Harris.

“We’re all trying to put together our own private entities as well as put together a global icon,” Harris said. “And I’m just curious about how his mind works.”

article

NoLandGrab: The article incorrectly hews to the original claim of a 20-year, $400-million naming-rights deal between Barclays and Ratner, which for almost a year now has been exposed as being worth just half that amount.

Posted by eric at 11:20 AM

Dear Melo: A postcard from Purgatory

If you agree to leave Denver for the Prudential Center, don't say we didn't warn you

ESPN New York
by Chris Sheridan

Time for an open letter to Carmelo Anthony, whose acquisition will remain the No. 1 quest for the New Jersey Nets between now and the trading deadline in mid-February.

Dear Melo:

Greetings from Purgatory, where the Nets played their final home game of the preseason Saturday afternoon and pulled off the impossible, making three 3-pointers in the final 12.5 seconds to come back from a seven-point deficit and defeat Philadelphia 90-89.

I call it Purgatory because that's the most fitting name for the Prudential Center, the downtown Newark arena the Nets will call home for the next two seasons until they make their move to the borough where you were born, Brooklyn.
...

If you decide what Jay-Z whispered in your ear over the summer (unofficially, of course, because otherwise it would be tampering) is enough to convince you to be the centerpiece of that move to Brooklyn in 2012, you at least need to have a scouting report on what you'll experience in Newark in the interim.

First, the Pru Center is a nicer place than the Meadowlands, but it is not without its faults.

For example, on the short walk from the court to the Nets' locker room there are seven -- yes, seven -- large metal rodent traps tucked in the corners but in clear view if you look closely enough.

Second, it is cold inside.
...

Third, it's loud, but in a crass way. If you want to hear an announcer shout, "Who wants a T-shirt?" in a voice so amplified they can probably hear it all the way down in Piscataway (the Nets' purgatory when the Meadowlands was being built), this is the place for you. Yep, no one does artificial noise like the Nets, who used to pipe recorded crowd noise over the loudspeakers in their old home to make up for the lack of people in the seats making actual noise.

You'll see odd things here in Newark, too, like the moment Saturday between the third and fourth quarters in which the significant other of former Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner ran along the baseline to give an extended greeting and hug to referee Violet Palmer. You'll also see a large, black curtain draping off a whole section of the upper deck, hiding a huge swath of seats that will likely go unsold every night, except when the Heat or Lakers are in town.

article

Posted by eric at 11:03 AM

October 10, 2010

For the Nets, First Brooklyn and Then the World

The New York Times
By Ken Belson and Jonathan Abrams

The Times continues its tradition of under-reporting actual Brooklyn news. This lengthy article focuses on a sponsorship deal with Stolichnaya and marketing the Nets outside of the U.S., but try to notice what is missing in this coverage:

The Nets hope to complete more deals when they visit Moscow on Sunday on their way to China, where they will play two preseason games. In Moscow, the Nets will hold a clinic for 3,000 youngsters, attend a ribbon-cutting at an Adidas store that will feature Nets gear and schmooze with businesspeople at a reception.

The Nets are stopping in Moscow on their way to China. So why can't the Times cover the trip to China by its business partner Bruce Ratner and ESDC Executive Director Peter Davidson? This trip will attempt to use the Federal EB-5 program to lure Chinese investment in Atlantic Yards in exchange for green cards. Although the program is for the purpose of job creation, the ESDC has already admitted that this mission to China will produce no additional jobs for the Atlantic Yards project.

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Posted by steve at 9:32 PM

October 7, 2010

(Still) New Jersey Nets: Last In Eastern Conference, Tops In Managerial Sketchiness, Undermining

Can't Stop The Bleeding

I’ve written a lot, here and elsewhere, about Brett Yormark, the poisonous but apparently untouchable anti-genius behind the Nets’ noxious rebranding during the Ratner era. Cynical, self-amused and prickly by turn, Yormark is first and foremost pretty bad at his job — the Nets are unlovable and largely unloved, and look likely to once again rank among the NBA’s worst teams after winning just 12 games last year. The last point, you might argue, isn’t so much Yormark’s fault as it was that of Rod Thorn, the team’s GM during the era in which the Nets furiously stripped assets and salary, attempted to leverage the useless sub-Radmanovic forward Yi Jianlin into a greater presence in the Chinese marketplace, and managed to hemorrhage money all the while. Thorn can’t be blamed for the Yi deal — he never evinced any real excitement about swapping Richard Jefferson for Bobby Simmons’ crummy contract and Yi’s defective Yi — but the buck has to stop somewhere in the vicinity of his office, you’d think.

It might just be a case of a veteran NBA writer sticking up for a universally respected NBA personality, but something Peter Vecsey wrote earlier this week would suggest that Yormark might actually deserve some blame for this as well. In what might be the least surprising bit of news to emerge during the offseason, Vecsey writes that Yormark (above, far right) took it upon himself to antagonize, alienate and undermine Thorn in a public gaslighting campaign of a full-spectrum dickiness that’s downright Dolan-ian.
...

And where was the owner while his two highest-paid non-players were locked in team-destroying combat? Probably in China, where the reliably pelf-chasing Ratner has been trying to take advantage of a little-publicized bit of immigration law in an attempt to, as the Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder writes, find “498 Chinese millionaires, to supply $249 million in low-cost financing for the [Atlantic Yards arena] project.” And why, the since-departed Yi notwithstanding, would these millionaires put up all that money? “In exchange for creating ten direct or indirect jobs or retaining ten direct ones–a formulation that offers enormous wiggle room–the investors would get permanent residency for themselves and their families, a chance to live anywhere in America, and an opportunity to get kids educated in the American system.”

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Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

October 3, 2010

Peter Vecsey: Former Nets GM Thorn blames tension with Yormark for departure

Atlantic Yards Report

So, why did Nets General Manager Rod Thorn "retire" and then immediately un-retire to work for the Philadelphia 76ers? The New York Post's Peter Vecsey, in a column headlined Rod had rocky relationship with Nets CEO, blames it on Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

Vecsey writes:

From what I had told, Yormark had gotten down on Thorn down the stretch, feeling he'd gotten lazy and done a poor job. Though unable to talk Bruce Ratner into firing him (the master plan was to rehire friend John Calipari and re-position him on the sidelines with complete power regarding personnel), Brett had no problem undermining Rod.

There was persistent friction between the two executives.

"Yormark was Ratner's go-to guy for everything," said someone in the know. "They'd speak 30 times a day. Whenever Thorn wanted to do something of substance he'd reach out to Ratner who'd immediately run it by Yormark."

According to past and present team employees, regardless whether or not Yormark endorsed Thorn's idea, a proposed trade, signing, whatever, was soon in the newspapers and/or on the air.

"Brett is the Nets' chief leak," maintains one and all.

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Posted by steve at 9:07 AM

September 24, 2010

70 Million Dollar Musician Terry Burrus To Play National Anthem in New Jersey March 11, 2011 New Jersey Nets vs Los Angeles Clippers at Prudential Center

Hot Event

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, rapper, Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter and real estate developer Bruce Ratner and their New Jersey Nets will have International Concert Pianist, Composer, Terry Burrus to play the National Anthem in Newark, New Jersey for the Nets vs Los Angeles Clippers NBA basketball game at Prudential Center Friday March 11, 2011 at 7:00PM.

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NoLandGrab: $70 million? Maybe he wants to buy a few green cards.

Posted by eric at 12:15 PM

September 18, 2010

Times reports on school visit by Nets coach and two dancers: "Nets Already In Brooklyn"

Atlantic Yards Report

In trying to encourage better nutrition, school cafeterias these days are trying to steer students' tastes away from cold cuts. However, some baloney found its way to students of Brooklyn's Middle School 51 by way of the New Jersey Nets. The New York Times dutifully passed said baloney onto its readers.

The New York Times Metro section doesn't see fit to report on, say, the curious appointment of Arana Hankin as Atlantic Yards Project Manager, but the newspaper so often has room to promote gratuitous Nets fluff.

Remember that long Metro section article last January about promoting the Nets in Brooklyn or that Sports section puff piece last November about Devin Harris?

Well, yesterday the Sports section offered a standalone photo showing new Nets coach Avery Johnson at a middle school in Brooklyn, accompanied by two Nets dancers in very short skirts (great role model, right?). No players apparently showed up

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Posted by steve at 5:43 PM

August 16, 2010

Naming the Nets

WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show

Will the Nets keep their promise and put "Brooklyn" in their name when they move to their new arena? Matthew Schuerman, WNYC Radio reporter, gives us an update.

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Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

August 14, 2010

New Jersey Nets to Change Their Name in Brooklyn

Asylum

This item about the renaming of the New Jersey Nets includes some suggestions:

The Brooklyn Brooklynites: Jersey, this one goes out to you. You're our halfwit brothers, and just because you moved, it doesn't mean we haven't forgotten you're from Jersey. Seriously, you're going to need to work the word "Brooklyn" into your name as many times as possible to convince us.

The Brooklyn Martys: Come on, you know that Marty Markowitz would cream his jeans (and probably put up $2 mil of his own money) to get the team named after his Penguin-looking ass.

The Brooklyn Bulldozers: This team is so caught up in corporate greed, we wouldn't be surprised if their home-game shirts read "Brooklyn Barclays Target Pier One Saks Häagen Dazses."

The Brooklyn Freddys: Not "Freddy" as in "Freddy Krueger," although that would make for some kick-ass logos. Rather, we're talking about Freddy's, named one of the best bars in America, and a victim of the Atlantic Yards eminent domain decision.

The Brooklyn Rats: We'll tell Bruce it's named after him, but we all know it's really named for Brooklyn's most lovable critter.

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Posted by steve at 2:08 PM

August 13, 2010

What if the team's "name change" is just a feint to announce "Brooklyn Nets" in a big ceremony?

Atlantic Yards Report

From the department of "who cares?":

WNYC's Matthew Schuerman picks up the news (as stoked by principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov) that Nets to Change Name, and May Not Use 'Brooklyn'.

And while that news drew anxiety from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and told-you-so-scorn from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a listen to Nets CEO Brett Yormark leaves me with another impression: they're simply waiting to make a splash with a gala announcement about the "Brooklyn Nets."

It could all just be a way to generate some more buzz.

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NoLandGrab: Anything that emanates from the mouth of Yormark is suspect at best, so speculating about it is an exercise in time-wasting.

Posted by eric at 9:54 AM

August 12, 2010

Markowitz Upset That Russian Oligarch May Not Be Into That "Brooklynish Thing"

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

On the same day his buddies Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov are laying waste to one of Brooklyn's great community bars—Freddy's Bar and Backroom—BEEP Markowitz is upset about reports of yet another Atlantic Yards bait-and-switch. Turns out the Cleveland and Russia based tycoons may not call the team they want to move to the Barclays Center Arena the Brooklyn Nets or the Brooklyn Anythings.

And that upsets Markowitz, because...you know...he cares so much about Brooklyn and the important things, or at least that "Brooklynish thing."

Hate to say we told you so Markowitz.

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Posted by eric at 10:28 PM

August 8, 2010

Prokhorov says team name change is in the can, but will the change affect "Brooklyn" or "Nets"? (My bet is the latter)

Atlantic Yards Report

Here is speculation as to the decision-making process used to rename the Nets.

Somehow one highlight in the Forbes Russia cover story (“Mikhail Prokhorov and American Basketball: Who Will Be the Winner?”) on the new principal owner of the New Jersey Nets was not translated by njnets.com.

Prokhorov plans to change the name of the team. As translated by a Russian-speaking reader of NetsDaily:

Q: What will be the team's name after the move to Brooklyn?

A: I can not tell you right now, but the documents are already submitted to the NBA office. The name change will happen in 2012 season.

Now that could just be a roundabout way of saying "Brooklyn Nets," which would, of course, be a name change. But there's a good bet it's not.

NoLandGrab: As as tribute to Spike Lee (who attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Nets arena) and the corrupt process used to approve Atlantic Yards, maybe the Nets could be renamed the "Crooklyn Nets."

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Posted by steve at 11:58 AM

August 7, 2010

Nyet to Nets in Brooklyn?

Nets Daily

A NetsDaily translation of the full Forbes Russia interview with Mikhail Prokhorov reveals the team plans a name change once it moves to Brooklyn, and that in fact documents seeking approval for the change have been submitted to the NBA. He didn't disclose the name.

In the NetsDaily translation of the interview, provided by a Russian-speaking fan, Prokhorov is asked "What will be the team's name after the move to Brooklyn?" His response: "I can not tell you right now, but the documents are already submitted to the NBA office. The name change will happen in 2012 season."

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NoLandGrab: A stated goal of the Atlantic Yards was to remove blight, but it appears that the project will create blight with an arena and acres of parking lots. Perhaps the Nets will be renamed the "Brooklyn Blighters."

Posted by steve at 2:13 PM

August 2, 2010

Whitewash! "Blueprint for Greatness" Goes Down

NetsDaily

The Nets only leased the side of the building at 34th and 8th for a month and over the last couple of days, workmen have all but covered the iconic images of Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z with whitewash.

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NoLandGrab: If that was the "blueprint for greatness," we'd hate to see the blueprint for failure.

Photo: NetsDaily

Posted by eric at 9:51 AM

July 28, 2010

Prokhorov: Nets Will Be Worth $1 Billion by 2015

NetsDaily

Looks like Mikhail Prokhorov is playing fantasy basketball.

The cover of August's Forbes Russia shows a tall man in a suit holding a basketball, and asks, "Mikhail Prokhorov and American basketball: Who Will Be the Winner?"

In the article, "I told America I come in peace," Prokhorov goes over much the same ground he has in press conferences and interviews with U.S. media, but talks more about the team's financial prospects.

The Nets' owner says the team will continue to lose money in Newark but the team's move to Brooklyn, plus his ambitions to create a dynasty, will make the Nets both profitable and valuable, suggesting the team will be worth $1 billion and earn an annual profit of $20 million.

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NoLandGrab: To put that figure in perspective, Forbes estimates the value of the Los Angeles Lakers, who won 45 more games than the Nets this past season (and the NBA title), at $607 million. Prokhorov is "guaranteeing" a Nets championship by 2015, as well.

Posted by eric at 10:26 AM

July 16, 2010

Prokhorov Preaches Patience: Nets Owner Moves to Plan B After Failing To Land Big Free Agents

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who took the tri-state area by storm just over two months ago when he was officially named owner of the New Jersey (soon-to-be-Brooklyn) Nets, had a new message for diehard fans this week.

“Be patient. Support our team. We will win for sure,” Prokhorov insisted Tuesday during his state-of-the-franchise address at the Four Seasons in New York.

After failing to land one of the prized free agents on the team’s July wish list — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — Prokhorov didn’t panic and sign a player his management group was less than enamored with in the hopes of pacifying a loyal but frustrated fan base.

Instead, he simply went to one of several back-up plans the organization had in place, just in case the “Big Three” turned down his monster pitch.

“Really I’m very happy with how things have played out,” Prokhorov said calmly. “Just after my meeting on the first of July, I had a different anticipation. I have predicted a lot of what has gone on. We have Plan A, we have Plan B and we have Plan C and even Plan D.

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NoLandGrab: OK, it's one thing for a reporter to mindlessly boost a team, but it's a completely different thing to lose one's grip on reality. Does John Torenli really believe that somewhere the Nets had a plan to acquire four guys nobody's ever heard of, and hire as their president the executive who built the Sixers into the sixth-worst team in the NBA, one that missed the playoffs last season by 14 games? That sounds more like Plan W.

Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

July 15, 2010

Mikhail Prokhorov Says One Thing, Nets Do the Opposite

Former Sixers G.M. latest curious move in Prokhorov's first summer as owner

NBC New York
by Josh Alper

There's no doubt that the addition of Mikhail Prokhorov to the roll call of team owners makes the American sports landscape a more interesting one. We're starting to have some second thoughts about how much he means any of the things he says, however.

Case in point is an interview that Prokhorov gave to Nets Daily on Monday while he was flitting through the sky on his Gulfstream. The first question had to do with the departure of team president and general manager Rod Thorn and the search for a replacement who would help the Nets fulfill Prokhorov's promise of a championship within five years. The owner professed to be in no rush to hire a new man because, as a new owner, "I need to touch and smell everything myself and this takes some time."

Fast forward to Wednesday when the Nets announced that former Sixers G.M. Billy King would be joining the team and assuming Thorn's duties. Maybe rush translates differently in Russian?

His job title is general manager so Prokhorov may still be taking his time to find a president but that would appear to be, in one form or another, a semantic distinction that won't make much difference if King proves to be the same guy who ran the Sixers into the ground after Larry Brown left the team. The team ran through numerous coaches, spent barrels of money on mediocre players and generally resembled the Isiah Thomas Knicks without the same media spotlight.

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NoLandGrab: Plan D?

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards Smells Bad

Josh Alper at NBC-New York scratches his head about Mikhail Prokhorov.

So do we.

Does this guy take anything seriously? If he treats free agency and his franchise this way, imagine what kind of humorous stylings he'll come up with when Atlantic Yards doesn't provide any affordable housing.

Posted by eric at 9:36 AM

Thorn had good run with Nets

Bergen Record
by Al Iannazzone

Rod Thorn, the only guy with any class in the whole Nets organization, is getting out.

With money tight under former principal owner Bruce Ratner, Thorn had to break up a championship contender and trade Kenyon Martin in 2004, cut salary nearly every season to avoid luxury tax penalties and move draft picks for cash.

The Nets finally have unlimited resources with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov signing the checks. Yet, Thorn is resigning.
...

Thorn is not retiring. Teams have called him, but Thorn isn’t sure what he will do next.

He dispels reports he’s leaving because of money – Prokhorov offered a two-year, $8 million deal, down from the $5.5 million Thorn made last season — or doesn’t like new ownership.

"It’s time for me to go," Thorn said.

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Posted by eric at 9:26 AM

July 13, 2010

The Nets draw blanks, but that's OK for Prokhorov and Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

The Record's Al Iannazzone sums up, in an article headlined Nets look to solve puzzle, the team's positioning:

The Nets wanted Mike Krzyzewski or Jeff Van Gundy to be their coach. Tom Thibodeau was their third choice. The Nets hired Avery Johnson.

They hoped their 25-percent chance of winning the draft lottery would get them the top pick in the draft and John Wall. They took Derrick Favors third.

The Nets wanted team president Rod Thorn to continue to guide the basketball department. Thorn is resigning at the end of the week, with former Sixers’ president Billy King a candidate to replace him.

In free agency, they hoped – and wanted to believe – Mikhail Prokhorov’s money and global vision and Jay-Z’s appeal would result in LeBron James and other superstars coming to the Nets.

They wound up with Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow...

Well, for team fans, that's not so hot, but Prokhorov has already reaped enormous good publicity from his purchase and media tour.

And former majority owner Bruce Ratner and his partners at Forest City Enterprises are no longer saddled with the team's losses.

So some bad luck likely doesn't hurt them as much.

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NoLandGrab: As for Brooklyn residents unlucky enough to live anywhere near Ratner's Atlantic Yards site, their bad luck will cause them pain for many years to come.

Posted by eric at 11:41 AM

July 11, 2010

Even without Lebron, Nets have a foundation in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Paper
By Stephen Brown

In an apparently new meaning of the word "forward," this article tries to say that the inability of the Nets to sign Lebron James represents progress.

The first concrete sign of the Barclays Center is now in place — builders have begun to lay the foundation of the arena at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

The construction milestone came on the eve of the New Jersey Nets’ failure to land Lebron James — but is still seen as a major step forward for the Brooklyn-bound team.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The Brooklyn Paper plays catch-up and cheerleader

The Brooklyn Paper plays catch-up and cheerleader, in a July 10 article headlined Even without Lebron, Nets have a foundation in Brooklyn:

The first concrete sign of the Barclays Center is now in place — builders have begun to lay the foundation of the arena at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

The construction milestone came on the eve of the New Jersey Nets’ failure to land Lebron James — but is still seen as a major step forward for the Brooklyn-bound team.

(Emphasis added)

Is still seen? By the issuer of the press release, at least. Most other commentators are pointing out that the Nets lost big this past week.

...

That announcement came June 29--well before the NBA free-agent merry-go-round--and so did the court hearing also cited in the article:

Lawyers for the opposition reargued their claim last week that a longer construction timetable for the project was withheld from a judge to get a favorable ruling.

The Brooklyn Paper didn't bother to send a reporter to the hearing, but linked to my coverage.

It wasn't simply that the Development Agreement was withheld in the court case; it was that the deadlines in the document, had they been seriously considered by the Empire State Development Corporation board, would have triggered another look at the projected ten-year buildout.

Posted by steve at 8:25 AM

July 10, 2010

The Daily News turns on a dime, spurning LeBron James after months of pulling for him, aching for him

Atlantic Yards Report

The Daily News, which launched a GetLeBron.com website as part of a months-long push to attract the superstar, today turned on a dime, editorializing James and the giant mistake: LeBron decides he can't make it here:

Who needed him, anyway?

Last night, with pomp even the queen couldn't muster, the man who's known as the King made the biggest mistake of his young life. Instead of having the courage to man up and build a real legacy in the big city, he's signing on with a ready-made dream team in Miami.

He can have his Crockett and Tubbs. We'll keep our Serpico and Sipowicz.

He can have his chain steakhouses and pizza places, and the Burger King headquarters. We'll take Peter Luger and Grimaldi's and enough others to give you a hundred delicious heart attacks.

He can have his glitzy beaches and palm trees and clubs filled with people who, if they can fake it there, they can fake it anywhere. We'll take Coney Island - freaks, cigarette butts and all. We'll take Central and Prospect and Crotona and Van Cortlandt parks....

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NoLandGrab: The Daily News criticizes Miami as a place of "chain steakhouses and pizza places, and the Burger King headquarters" even as it has endorsed destroying a real Brooklyn neighborhood for the bland, corporate dreams of developer Bruce Ratner.

Posted by steve at 8:26 AM

July 9, 2010

Notes from LeBron mania: Nets losses, reversible jerseys, bitterness in Cleveland, Zimbalist the media critic, and Yormarketing desperation in Florida

Atlantic Yards Report

Blueprint for greatness? We think not. As one NetsDaily commenter posted last night, "'Proky' is just Russian for 'Ratner.'"

Now that superstar LeBron James has signed with the Miami Heat, and the Nets' coach and owner remain positive, not everyone's convinced.

From the Times:

The Nets are so far the biggest losers in free agency, having failed to sign any of the players on the market, despite the best efforts of their charismatic new owner, the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov.

Well, you might say the teams that lost stars fell behind much more, but the Nets suffered in comparison to other teams that cleared cap space.

From Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi, mindful of the short stay in Newark:

And, while it will be largely overlooked, his nine words — “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach” – have effectively ended New Jersey’s frustrating and fruitless dalliance with professional basketball.

...Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov issued a statement not five minutes after the decision to “reiterate our commitment to winning a championship within five years.” But that billboard outside Madison Square Garden, the one declaring that Prokhorov and Jay-Z had the “blueprint for success” is 30 stories worth of hubris today, and the new owner looks as feeble as the old one.

Al Iannazzone on the Nets Insider connected a few dots:

This free agency continued the trend from the regular season.

The Nets had the best chance to win the Lottery and potential franchise-changer John Wall, and fell to third. At one point, they believed they were in the mix for James. Another loss.

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Related coverage...

NetsDaily, Prokhorov: "Goals Remain Intact"

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov released a statement shortly after LeBron James announced his decision to join the Miami Heat.

"We have a vision of a championship team and need to invest wisely and for the long term," Prokhorov said. "Fortunately, we have more than one plan to reach success, and, as I have found in all areas of my business, that is key to achieving it. To Nets fans past, present and future, the goal of making the playoffs this season remains intact and we reiterate our commitment to winning a championship within five years."

NoLandGrab: Nets fans better hope that "Plan B" doesn't stand for "Plan Bruce."

AP via USA Today, Nets lose another one — LeBron heading to Miami

The New Jersey Nets had one of the worst seasons in NBA history and nothing changed on the free agent marketplace in the offseason.

The Nets' hopes for an amazing resurrection just months after winning 12 games collapsed on Thursday when two-time MVP LeBron James became the latest superstar to say nyet to new Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov and his high-profile negotiating team that included hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.

NLG: LeBron apparently didn't feel the Nets' pitch was quite as "spectacular" as the Nets thought it was.

NetsAreScorching, THE DAY AFTER: WE’RE GOING TO BE OKAY NETS FANS

Perhaps, many of us were caught up in the way the Nets have been selling themselves the past week. The swagger, the taunting billboards, the “leaks” of information from negotiations… maybe it all created a false sense of accomplishment. They always tell a fighter not to lead with the chin, and Team Prokhorov has certainly put it all out there, inviting a backlash. But personally, after the past six years of Bruce Ratner’s focus on real estate, rather than basketball, I welcome an owner who’s willing to take calculated risks and not be ashamed if they don’t hit the bullseye when it comes to assembling a roster.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New Best Western Arena Hotel Opens at Crossroads of Bed-Stuy, Crown Hts, Prospect Heights

Brooklyn now has a brand new Best Western hotel that’s open and ready for business.

Originally to be named Best Western Downtown Brooklyn, it was renamed Best Western Arena Hotel because of its proximity to the Barclays Center at Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development.
...

“Brooklyn is quickly becoming a top destination for tourists, business and leisure travelers, and with the new Barclays Center for the New Jersey Nets scheduled to open in 2011, our hotel will be a great addition to the city,” said Mukesh Patel, principal of Mukteshwar LLC, owner of the new Best Western. “We are only six blocks from the new arena and the only hotel at the first stop along the Long Island Rail Road, making it a convenient stay whether they’re in the area for work or play.”

NLG: That would be 2012, if they're lucky. Maybe they can advertise the hotel to Heat fans in Miami, who might want to come watch their team eat the Nets for lunch.

Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

July 8, 2010

LeBron mania to be resolved tonight, as nation will learn superstar's destination in prime-time special; Nets' chances drop

Atlantic Yards Report

Basketball superstar LeBron James's final choice of a city and team--er, sports entertainment corporation--will be revealed tonight in an hour-long special on ESPN, capping the mega-hype and drama that started months ago and ramped up a week ago when teams could approach him directly.

Given how the chess pieces have fallen in the past week--Dwayne Wade joined by Chris Bosh in Miami; Amar'e Stoudemire signing with the Knicks; Carlo Boozer signing with Chicago--the free agent-less Nets have lost ground, despite what the New York Post inaccurately hyped July 3 as Nets insider: Meeting with LeBron 'spectacular'.

(The self-serving, unidentified "insider" was referring not to the meeting but the team's pitch: And the Nets were the first team to try to impress James with a presentation one team insider dubbed “spectacular” after getting reviews from those involved.)
...

Going too far?

[The Star-Ledger's Dave] D'Alessandro thinks things have gone way too far:

So now he’s ready to announce his decision. The free agent market in any sport is always a shameless function of ego, and one week of this was enough. Now the grand prize, a young man who refers to himself as The King, has concluded his vainglorious quest to keep our attention as he decides that he is either going to take one billionaire’s money or another billionaire’s money.

Buzz Bissinger, who with James wrote a book about the star and his high school teammates, told the Times:

“I’m disappointed because I think he’s handled this terribly,” said Buzz Bissinger, who helped write James’s 2009 biography, “Shooting Stars.” “I hate the idea that he is the king and that all these grown men have had to go grovel in front of him. It’s a side of him I didn’t see before.
...

Some sobriety

In a Next American City essay July 2 headlined Cities to Lebron: “We Need You”, Ferentz Lafargue looked skeptically at the campaign for James, suggesting that the numbers bandied about regarding the local economic impact were not to be trusted.

New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman wrote June 29 about the impact of transit cuts on the poor, and looped in the buzz of the moment:

For example, on Thursday the fabulously wealthy LeBron James, a Cleveland basketball player, becomes a free agent. Some prominent New Yorkers desperately want him to play here, and they are throwing all sorts of freebies his way as inducements. After all, why should a zillionaire pay his own way? That’s what the less illustrious and the less affluent must do.

The courtship of Mr. James is supposed to fill us with civic pride. The good news is that we will have more time to read about it while we stand on the subway platform waiting longer than ever for an overcrowded train to arrive.

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NoLandGrab: LeBron James? Yawn.

Related coverage...

NetsDaily, $32 Million and No One to Take It

The salary cap figures are out and the Nets now have $32 million--$31.929 million to be specific--in cap space with 10 players under contract (two partially guaranteed). If this was July 1, that would be a good thing, but it's about to turn into July 8. Not so good.

After striking out on Carlos Boozer, it now appears that David Lee won't be available either. Unless LeBron James chooses the Knicks, he'll likely be dealt in a sign-and-trade to the Warriors as early as Friday. The hope that James will choose the Nets is now very unlikely, with the the betting be he'll either stay in Cleveland or head to MIami to join the other Golden Ones.

So what do the Nets do now?

NLG: Make another run at the NBA record for futility?

slayer2022 via YouTube, Mikhail Prokhorov recruits Lebron James

Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

July 6, 2010

Ratner: Vandeweghe deserved better

ESPN The Magazine
by Ric Bucher

Bruce Ratner is shedding a few crocodile tears over the team's dismissal of Kiki Vandeweghe.

Bruce Ratner remains a minority partner in the New Jersey Nets, so he's not at liberty to question the decisions made by the team's new majority owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. But if there's one consequence of the new regime's attempt to distance itself from last season's nearly historic -- as in historically bad --12-70 record that bothers him, it's how assistant general manager Kiki Vandeweghe was sent packing.

Enough so that Ratner's conscience apparently compelled him to speak out about it. Especially now that team president Rod Thorn is stepping aside as well and the team is in search of new leadership altogether.

"He didn't go out the way he should have," Ratner said now of Vandeweghe. "The team is in a really good position and he was instrumental in putting it there."

Ratner's conscience? We wonder if Bruce also feels that Daniel Goldstein "didn't go out the way he should have."

That said, Ratner doesn't see the Nets bringing Vandeweghe back. His gratitude for Vandeweghe's work and guilt over how he was dismissed stops short of going to bat for him.

"It's Mikhail's team now and he wants to put his stamp on it," Ratner says. "I can understand that."

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NoLandGrab: You're a stand-up guy, Bruce. Maybe if you hadn't been desperate for Proky's cash to keep your crooked Atlantic Yards deal afloat, Kiki would still have a job. But that's not how it went down. So shut up already.

Posted by eric at 7:24 AM

July 5, 2010

ESPN's Ultimate Standings show Nets, in pre-Prokhorov season, declining to 118 (among 122 franchises), with Ratner still the second-worst owner

Atlantic Yards Report

Congratulations, Bruce Ratner! You're still the second-worst owner in pro sports, even though you don't even own most of your team anymore. And the only guy worse than you is "The Most Evil Man in Sports."

With no way to factor in a brighter future in Newark (and Brooklyn) and a deep-pocketed new owner, the New Jersey Nets actually declined from 111 to 118 in ESPN the Magazine's Ultimate Standings 2010, a ranking of how much the 122 franchises in four pro sports give back to the fans.

(The unimpressive New York Knicks nudged up to 119 from 121.)

The Nets ownership, led by Bruce Ratner, held steady at 121, the second-worst in all of sports, thanks to Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers, who paid $2.73 million last November to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit.

The best scores for the Nets were in the categories of Title Track (championships won or expected in the lifetime of current fans) and affordability. Look for the latter to decline, though perhaps not until the expected Brooklyn move, and the former to increase, at least if major free agents are signed.

Title Track: 99
Ownership: 121
Coaching: 121
Players: 114
Fan Relations: 113
Affordability: 82
Stadium Experience: 119
Bang for the Buck: 116

The explanation, from ESPN's Insider (subscription only), comes with some digs at marketing man Brett Yormark:

Mikhail Prokhorov is a genius when it comes to buying low. And that's what he got with the Nets. "It was the single worst fan experience in ANY professional sport," says Net Income of Netsdaily.com. We feel you guys, we really do, because New Jersey hasn't been embarrassed this badly since Jersey Shore debuted. We're not even talking about the Vince Carter trade and the NBA-record 18-game losing streak to start the season. There were the reversible jersey promotions (one side: a New Jersey Nets player, flip it inside-out: Kobe Bryant!). And CEO Brett Yormark scolding a fan who donned a paper bag. Amazingly none of this even begins to address the IZOD Center, which housed this entire spectacle. Net Income, please do the honors: "It hadn't been updated in 30 years. It had virtually no amenities and was always crowded, perhaps even an unsafe concourse. Traffic and parking configurations were changed, sometimes game to game, to accommodate a massive and still-empty shopping mall, the construction of a new Giants/Jets stadium and then the destruction of the old one." Luckily for Nets supporters, the Ratner era ends with a temporary pit stop in Newark and an overhaul of the organization, Russian-billionaire style. "Nets fans on the whole are excited by the prospect of Prokhorov, if only because we know our owner is now committed to basketball rather than real estate," says NJ4Life of Netsdaily.com. Hey, that's not a bad place to start.

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Posted by eric at 10:47 AM

July 1, 2010

The loss of Yi and the Nets' China ambitions

Atlantic Yards Report

Yi, we hardly knew ye.

Now that the Nets have traded Chinese forward Yi Jianlian to the Washington Wizards to clear salary cap space (and bid for two free agents, not one), what happens to the team's global ambitions?

(And when will they update the Nets' Chinese web site, which still features Yi, as in the screenshot at right?)

Well, notwithstanding the role of globetrotting Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov as owner, there has to be a setback in the world's most populous country.

I didn't see that concern in coverage of the Yi deal in the AP, News, Post, or the official press release.

Some savvy

The Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro wisely pointed out:

Ether way, Yi and his $4.05M salary are history -- so much for that foray into the Asian continent, unless they believe a billion Chinese fans are going to follow the owner, which doesn't seem likely.

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Posted by eric at 10:11 AM

June 27, 2010

Jay-Z expected to be among first to visit LeBron

Yahoo Sports
By Adrian Wojnarowski

This article mentions the exit of Rod Thorn, General Manager of the Nets.

Nets general manager Rod Thorn and coach Avery Johnson will also make the trip, but Thorn has decided to leave his job and retire in July. He hasn’t been happy with the pay cut the new owner has offered, and he also feels that at 69 years old his appetite for the job’s grind has diminished.

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NLG: A pay cut for Thorn? Is Mr. Billionaire Oligarch cheaping out, a la the Bruce? Isn't it supposed to be all "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" with the Nets now?

Posted by steve at 7:55 AM

June 17, 2010

Nets Basketball: First Newark, then Brooklyn ... and then the world

New Jersey Newsroom
by Evan Weiner

The NBA's worst basketball team has grandiose dreams of being the world's worst basketball team, aiming to transcend "borders and cultures and countries."

So how do you push your way onto the world stage and become a global sports brand name like Manchester United, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods? That is the question that Irina Pavlova will be attempting to answer in the upcoming months as she leads the campaign to make the New Jersey, soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets a player on the world stage.

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Posted by eric at 10:08 AM

June 15, 2010

Prudential Center tour might get Mikhail Prokhorov thinking Nets belong in Newark -- long-term

The Star-Ledger
by Steve Politi

Mikhail Prokhorov got his first look yesterday at the Prudential Center in Newark, the Nets' interim home for at least the next two years.

Maybe there is a very good reason his new partners, the ones who needed his billions to make their boondoggle Brooklyn project a reality, decided to wait so long to take the oligarch to the Rock.

Maybe they didn’t want him to see it.

Prokhorov isn’t the second richest man in Russia for making poor business decisions. You had to wonder, as he walked through the pristine building and shot 3-pointers with the city’s charismatic mayor, if the thought at least popped into his sizable noggin.

I’m paying how many rubles to build a new arena in Brooklyn when this place is already here?!

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Posted by eric at 9:53 AM

June 14, 2010

Gov. Chris Christie says he's ready to get involved in N.J. sports issues

The Star-Ledger
by Steve Politi

You pushed the Nets to give up their territorial rights as part of the move out of the Meadowlands. Is there any hope for NBA in the future here when the Nets leave?

The Prudential Center is a world-class basketball arena, and it could attract interest from teams not doing very well in this area. And I do think this area, if it had good teams, could support three teams. We support three teams in hockey. I don’t think there’s any reason we couldn’t support three in basketball. So if the Nets do leave — and I’m still waiting for that building to be built in Brooklyn, I’ll believe it when I see it — I think it’s something we should look at aggressively.

Why the skepticism about Brooklyn?

Just the economy. I know they have lots of legal issues to get over — I know they’ve gotten over a number of them. This thing was supposed to be built already. I haven’t seen any steel go in the ground yet. I wish them all the luck, but we’re ready to host the Nets for the next two years. At least.

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Posted by eric at 12:39 PM

June 7, 2010

Jay-Z not wooing LeBron James to Nets

Yahoo! Sports
by Mark J. Miller

Jay-Z is a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, a team on the undercard for the battle for LeBron James(notes) this summer. The Nets are considered a long shot to land James in this summer filled with big-name, big-dollar NBA free agents, but Jay-Z tells Rolling Stone that he won't get involved in trying to woo his friend to his team, according to the New York Daily News.

"That's his decision," he told the magazine. "We're friends - we've still gotta hang out! I don't want to convince somebody to do something, then have to see him and say, 'Uh, yeah, we're 4-30 ...sorry.'"

Such confidence in his team! Of course, the real reason Jay won't get involved in the recruiting effort may be that the big boss told him "nyet."

Jay-Z is leaving all recruiting to the new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who first met with the hip-hop exec at the Manhattan Four Seasons. "I'd been staying there for 10 years, and I always thought I was at the top level," Jay-Z told the magazine. "But when I met Prokhorov, they took me up to this extra, extra room that I had never even heard of before. Now there's something else to shoot for. There's always an extra level you don't know about."

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NoLandGrab: You got that right, Hov, especially when you've only been brought in for "street cred."

Posted by eric at 9:55 AM

May 24, 2010

How Big Will Jay-Z Play in Free Agency?

Nets Daily

Everywhere Mikhail Prokhorov went his first day in New York, there was Jay-Z: having lunch with the new owner at the rapper's 40-40 Club, by his side at the Draft Lottery, having breakfast with Mayor Bloomberg. The unspoken but heavily implied message: the rapper and the Russian will combine to recruit LeBron James (even if Jay-Z will be on a European tour starting July 2.)

Jay-Z told Prokhorov of his desire to play a "more active role" with the team, but Prokhorov seemed to suggest Jay-Z is likely to be more cheerleader than recruiter, telling reporters: "I think it’s more than enough that he is very passionate with the team. I think it’s management job to look for free agents, and with agents, it’s a professional job. But of course Jay-Z’s passion is additional advertisement for the team."

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NoLandGrab: It's not the movies, so the Russian guy doesn't need a sidekick named Mr. Z.

Posted by eric at 9:46 AM

May 22, 2010

Prokhorov: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (and why the team might become the Brooklyn Bridges)

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder provides a critical look at Mikhail Prokhorov that is missing from so much media coverage of the oligarch's appearance in the New York area .

New Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov arrived with a good story--a Russian multi-billionaire with wit, insouciance, and the cash to realize his significant ambitions.

He proceeded this week to get the sports press to lap up more, showing far more public presence--if not exactly candor--than the saturnine, close-mouthed multi-millionaire who owns the Knicks. (Roundup 1, roundup 2.)

So no one asked very hard questions and, if it got a wee bit in that direction, they didn't follow up. The story line is the Russian mogul who'll revive a basketball team. Forget the NBA's opaque vetting process and the inability of the press to suss out the Zimbabwe controversy. Forget the huge footnote that should be added to Prokhorov's claim of being a "self-made" man.

Forget bogus blight and eminent domain, forget the giveaway of naming rights, forget a massive interim surface parking lot next to a historic district. Forget, forget, forget. It's a sports story, globalized.

And laugh at the witty guy ESPN columnist Bill Simmons dubs "Mutant Russian Mark Cuban." (Simmons predicts a name change; scroll down to why I disagree on his pick and expect the Nets to become the Brooklyn Bridges. Prokhorov must decide by October 1.)

And a rookie journalist who luckily snagged a one-on-one interview gets praised for (and celebrates) his exclusive, not scrutinized for his caricature of the Atlantic Yards controversy. Hard to blame him, right? Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes started it.

(Two voices of dissent: Dave D'Alessandro in the Star-Ledger, asserting that Prokhorov "knows less about the NBA than Bruce Ratner did when he showed up" and criticizing "some thicket of inane blather," and Dave Zirin in HuffPost, though he's conclusory about the Zimbabwe issue.)

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Posted by steve at 5:11 PM

NJ Nets: Deconstructing Mikhail Prokhorov

The Star-Ledger
By Dave D'Alessandro

This article dares to ask, aside from having deep pockets, what qualities does Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov possess to enable him to successfully run an NBA franchise?

We keep reading these stories about his bold vision and his savvy business sense and his urbane countenence – which is all fine, because the media always leads this ludicrous pep rally mentality.

But we think everyone might be missing something that might be relevant about Mikhail Prokhorov:

This guy knows less about the NBA than Bruce Ratner did when he showed up, and you know how that turned out.

To put it politely, with the possible exception of Sean Williams, the Russian gentleman is as ignorant as anyone we’ve ever encountered that had some connection – big or small – to the NBA.

...

Honestly, we liked him just fine. He used the same lame jokes throughout every stop on his media tour that day, but he’s charming – intuitive in some ways. He communicates very well – we loved his use of our colloquialisms (“I am looking forward to hanging out with him,” he said of Jay-Z). He has an air of casual arrogance, but he’s not condescending. And, yes, he's unintentionally amusing, with a voice and manner that sounds like it’s out of central casting: When he says, “You must have multiple strategy,” he sounds like he’s saying, “Drop gun and put money in lacquer box.”

No, the only thing that bothers us is that he’s just very NBA dumb. And if you don’t think that’s a problem, you have an exaggerated sense of whether money can fix this team anytime soon.

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Posted by steve at 4:38 PM

CROOKLYN: NBA's Nets Sold to Russian Billionaire

The Huffington Post
By Dave Zirin

Contrasting much of the fawning attention given by some of the press to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, this article reminds us that the NBA, due to money woes, has turned a blind eye to the oligarch's dealings.

Prokhorov, it was revealed in April, has extensive business arrangements with Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe. These dealings have been very lucrative yet could, if they continue, be in violation of US sanctions, now that Prokhorov has become league owner. Whatever one may think of the hypocrisy of the United States enforcing sanctions on Mugabe while linking arms with numerous noxious regimes, it is a stubborn fact that the nearly 90-year-old strongman has spent a career brutally repressing social movements -- when he hasn't looted the country with his IMF-backed structural adjustment programs.

When news of the Prokhorov-Mugabe partnerships became public, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. said, "This is disgusting. Obviously, the Board of Governors of the NBA didn't do their job properly when they vetted this deal." Prokhorov was also arrested in 2007, although not charged, for arranging prostitutes for guests at a French Alpine Villa. The pressure on France by the Russian government to release Prokhorov was said to be very intense.

Yet NBA commissioner Stern vociferously denied that there was anything even slightly shady in Prokhorov's past, saying, "We are pleased that the NBA's Board of Governors approved Mikhail Prokhorov's purchase of majority ownership of the Nets, welcoming into the NBA ownership ranks the league's first majority investor from outside of North America." He has also told everyone to just "call him Mike."

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Posted by steve at 9:30 AM

The Mikhail Prokhorov Media Experience, In Brooklyn

The Huffington Post
By Vinnie Rotondaro

In an apparent effort to get some more mileage from his interview with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Rotondaro recounts what it was like to do the interview. Part of this article provides background that tries to reduce the Atlantic Yards controversy to a conflict between "royally pissed" opponents of the project and supporters "giddy at the prospect of employment."

What I knew for sure was that in Brooklyn he had helped stir serious controversy. I saw it for myself covering the groundbreaking of the Atlantic Yards Project a few months earlier for the Ink. Locals gathering outside Freddy's Bar, which was forced to move as a result of project, were royally pissed. They wore oversized poster masks of the "main culprits" of Atlantic Yards. Prokhorov was one of them. Conversely, some folks from Crown Heights had Brownsville seemed practically giddy at the prospect of employment. The two factions engaged in some light verbal sparring. "Who's true Brooklyn?" Et cetera, et cetera.

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NoLandGrab: We're keeping an eye out for yet another piece from Rotondaro about what it feels like to read about what bloggers say about his interviewing skills.

Posted by steve at 9:08 AM

May 18, 2010

New Owner; Same Old Nets

Nets Are Scorching, WHAT WINNING THE DRAFT LOTTERY MEANS

The graph above was done by Sleepy Freud of the Warriors blog Golden State of Mind, and it displays visually the Nets chances at the different picks. As you can see, there are only four colors represented on the Nets’ chart, meaning that the worst the Nets can do is the 4th overall pick. The Nets really need the number one pick though. It isn’t because of John Wall though, sure he is a fantastic player, but in all honesty I’d be happy with any of the players rumored to be in the top 4. The reason the Nets need to win the draft lottery is that they need to keep this “momentum train” rolling.
...

If the Nets win the draft lottery, the good mojo continues and this new feeling that Nets’ fan have (I think it is called hope) keeps going. If the Nets lose, it is just the other shoe dropping, something Nets’ fans are used to.
...

I think winning the lottery is what will help Nets’ fans finally close the book on the Bruce Ratner era for good and confidently start the Mikhail Prokhorov off on the right foot, optimistically.

NoLandGrab: Consider the "momentum train" derailed, and the other shoe dropped — the Nets drew the third straw in the NBA draft lottery.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Prokhorov Promises Championship, Not Affordable Housing

In this video you can just feel the excitement and the dedictation to Brooklyn and affordable housing. Well, not really...but it is worth watching the new owner of the Nets and 40% of the Barclays Center Arena (and eventually possibly the whole arena and 20% of the rest of Atlantic Yards) humorlessly (and expressionlessly) explain how he'll pick up the pieces from the wreckage Ratner left behind.

NLG: Prokhorov's English is waaaaay better than our Russian, but Nets Daily really calls this guy "the most interesting man in the world?" They need to get out more.

Nets Are Scorching, LADIES & GENTLEMEN, GET UP & CHEER: MIKHAIL PROKHOROV HAS ARRIVED

Seriously, try to picture Bruce Ratner making this video. You can’t. He’d just say something about “maximizing our profit margin” and then continue to drown whatever small child he was holding at the time.

Posted by eric at 11:29 PM

SBJ: New owner Prokhorov quickly becomes face of Nets

SportsBusiness Journal via SportingNews.com
by John Lombardo

Welcome to the Mikhail Prokhorov era.

The New Jersey Nets are wasting no time trying to recast themselves. The hapless franchise that lost $64 million is undergoing a transformation under the new ownership as the Russian Prokhorov finally takes control of the team.

One thing that doesn't appear to be changing is Brett Yormark's role as the Nets' prevaricator-in-chief.

"Our fans are really excited about our fresh start, from new ownership, to the draft lottery, to a new coach, to free agency and to a new home," said Brett Yormark, president of Nets Sports and Entertainment. "We're off to the best start in new season-ticket sales in team history, in large part because our fans see how committed ownership is to winning and because we have such a compelling story to tell."

OK, wait for it...

Yormark did not disclose the new ticket sales numbers.

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Posted by eric at 11:43 AM

May 17, 2010

Yormark claims Prokhorov purchase helps spur record sales of season tickets

Atlantic Yards Report

Nets CEO Brett Yormark tells Sports Business Journal, "We’re off to the best start in new season-ticket sales in team history in large part because our fans see how committed ownership is to winning and because we have such a compelling story to tell."

Well, maybe, but until and unless he releases statistics we can't be sure.

After all, Yormark's credibility is a tad thin, given that last July he claimed "we're having one of the best off-seasons that we've had in years."

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NoLandGrab: Why, we'd almost be inclined to believe Yormark — if we hadn't spent the past five-plus years documenting his seemingly pathological lying hype.

Posted by eric at 11:32 PM

It came from the Hovasphere...

NY Post, Jay-Z's 99 problems: Sour economy gives mogul's investments a bad spin

Even the world's most successful hip-hop star isn't immune to the Great Recession.

While his music and apparel businesses appear to be humming along, ringing up mega-profits, Brooklyn's Jay-Z -- not just a businessman but a business, man -- has suffered a few financial bumps of late.
...

Jay-Z Inc.’s losers

NJ Nets:

Paid $4.5M in December 2004 for a minority stake in the team. Sale price of $300M means he owns 1.5%. Forbes valued the team at $269M this season, down 9% from the previous season. Operating deficit of 13.9M. In 2004, Team owner Bruce Ratner said he wanted to have team in Brooklyn for the 2006-07 season but 2012 looks more promising.

Wall St. Cheat Sheet, 6 Companies Salivating to Get Lebron James on the New York Knicks

A guy you never heard of is claiming credit for hooking up Jay-Z with Bruce Ratner.

Let’s face it: the New York Knicks have sucked for a while now. In the City that prides itself on attracting the best and brightest, this can’t last.

When I worked at sports boutique investment bank Inner Circle Sports LLP, it was my idea to bring Jay-Z in as a part-owner when our client Forest City Ratner Companies wanted to buy the New Jersey Nets and take them to Brooklyn. Now, I have some less expensive advice for a few New York City companies which could use the same type of synergetic aid.

Posted by eric at 9:56 AM

May 11, 2010

NBA approves sale of Nets to Russian Prokhorov

AP
by Brian Mahoney

The first step in what the New Jersey Nets hope is a quick turnaround is in place. New owner Mikhail Prokhorov is eager to get started on the rest.

"For those who are already fans of the Nets and the NBA, I intend to give you plenty to cheer about," the Russian billionaire said in a statement.

The Nets are now officially the Nyets.

Prokhorov's purchase of the team was approved Tuesday by NBA's owners, who welcomed the first non-North American into their club.

Russia's richest man agreed to buy 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of an arena project in Brooklyn from developer Bruce Ratner late last year. Final approval of the sale was delayed until the state of New York had taken over all the land seized under eminent domain at the site of the team's Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Nets expect that transaction to close Wednesday, and the long-delayed 18,000-seat arena is to open in 2012.

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NoLandGrab: And thus ends the "Bruce Ratner era," which firmly trounced "the Dark Ages," the "Great Depression" and "the '70s" for worst era ever.

NY Observer, NBA Approves Nets Sale From Ratner to Prokhorov

This ends a more than six-year stretch for Mr. Ratner, the Brooklyn-based developer whose Nets sunk to nearly the worst record in NBA history this season as he struggled to begin the project that attracted him to the Nets in the first place: Atlantic Yards, the planned $4.9 billion Brooklyn mixed-use development that holds a new Nets arena as a centerpiece.

Construction has finally begun on the arena, and last week, the holdout who had led so much of the fervent opposition to the project for years, Daniel Goldstein, moved out after the state claimed his land and he settled with Mr. Ratner for $3 million.

It's indeed a new era for Brooklyn, as the chapter of fighting and opposition has come to a close, clearing the way for a less dynamic narrative of construction.

NLG: Pending, of course, three lawsuits, including Peter Williams's air-rights challenge.

The Wall Street Journal, Russian Billionaire Takes Control of the New Jersey Nets

“We are pleased,” said NBA commissioner David Stern in a written statement. “We anticipate that his passion for the game and business acumen will be of considerable value not only to the Nets franchise but to the entire NBA.”
...

According to people familiar with the matter, NBA officials were satisfied that Prokhorov would play by the NBA rules and would be a suitable owner for the NBA franchise that has struggled financially.

NLG: i.e., he fit the league's ABB blueprint: anybody but Bruce.

The Internets [NYDailyNews.com], Prokhorov approved by NBA's board of governors

The league sent out an e-mail just after 5:30 p.m., putting an end to what had been anticipated since Prokhorov struck a deal to buy a majority share of the team from Bruce Ratner last September. Some final business needs to be taken care of tomorrow and then the Russian billionaire will official take control of the league's worst team and begin his mission of turning it into one of the best.

TrueHoop [ESPN.com], Mikhail Prokhorov, just in time

On the day that Mark Cuban is battling the notion that his Mavericks are barely solvent, Mikhail Prokhorov arrives on the scene to compete for the title of owner NBA fans most dream of becoming.

The Sports Section [NYMag.com], The Prokhorov Has Landed

It's impossible to overstate how much Prokhorov is going to change our area sporting landscape; we really might have our new Steinbrenner. The journey begins today. Don't say you weren't warned.

UPI.com, Prokhorov approved as N.J. Nets owner

"We are pleased that the NBA's board of governors approved Mikhail Prokhorov's purchase of majority ownership of the Nets, welcoming into the NBA ownership ranks the league's first majority investor from outside of North America," said NBA commissioner David Stern.

The Star-Ledger, NBA Board of Governors approves sale of Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov

The Board of Governors vote, which was done via e-mail, was unanimous among the 29 NBA team representatives.

One adamant nay vote, however, came again Tuesday from Congressman Bill Pascrell, the Essex County representative who in recent weeks has changed that the NBA overlooked Prokhorov’s business ties with Zimbabwe – a country under U.S. sanction – and Russian organized crime.

Calling the sale “short-sighted,” Pascrell reiterated that the league’s vetting process was a “smokescreen.”

“Mr. Stern has refused to confirm or deny to me whether the league’s vetting operation looked at Mr. Prokhorov’s businesses in Zimbabwe and his investment bank’s ties to a massive public corruption scheme,” Pascrell said in a statement. “This is simply unacceptable to me and the millions of basketball fans across the country who hold the NBA to a higher standard.

“I believe there are plenty of fans who consider the NBA’s sacrificing of principles in the name of scoring a quick profit as a flagrant foul.”

Bloomberg Businessweek, Prokhorov’s $200 Million Nets Buy Gains NBA Approval

Prokhorov will be the first owner of an NBA team from outside North America and the second foreign owner of a U.S. franchise. Nintendo of America Inc. is the majority owner of Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners.

“Today’s vote will give the NBA a greater global reach and bring a multitude of new fans to the game of basketball,” Prokhorov said in an e-mailed statement.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Prokhorov Approved to Own the Nets

True to form, the Eagle runs the press release.

Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO, Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the Barclays Center, said, “Mikhail and his team will bring tremendous innovation and excitement to the NBA. He has a love for basketball and a commitment to excellence. I also thank the Nets organization, for which I have worked very closely with over the last six years. I have never met a more hard working and committed group of professionals, who are dedicated to the team, and, more importantly, to the fans.”

NLG: "For which I have worked very closely with?" Bruce's grasp of the language is only rivaled by his grasp of pro basketball.

NY1, NBA Approves Nets Sale To Russian Billionaire

Prokhorov has made it clear he intends on moving the team to Brooklyn.

The sale had been held up over legal delays on Atlantic Yards.

The Wall Street Journal, Meet Prokhorov's Fixer-In-Chief

Posted by eric at 9:04 PM

May 10, 2010

Clock ticking on Nets' renewal

Bergen Record
by Al Iannazzone

With Prokhorov worth roughly $17 billion, the Nets won’t cut corners or use players as marketing tools, as they have in recent years. It doubtful any Nets will deliver pizzas, as Courtney Lee did for a promotion during this dismal 12-70 season. The focus will return to basketball and winning.

"They’re going to be one of the best organizations in the league," an NBA executive said.

Prokohorov, who made his fortune in precious metals, will own 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the Brooklyn arena project. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, tried blocking the sale, claiming Prokhorov’s business dealings with Zimbabwe violated U.S. sanctions. The NBA called Pascrell "misinformed."

The holdup has been clearing the Brooklyn site, which was accomplished Friday, all but paving the way for Prokhorov to try to do for the Nets what he did in Russia last decade.

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NoLandGrab: "Misinformed?" The NBA's so-called "vetting" process appears to consist of making sure that the owner of the Nets is anyone other than Bruce Ratner. Prokhorov, who "made his fortune in precious metals," also does business in Zimbabwe, which appears intent on selling uranium to our good friends Iran. From The Guardian:

"Be also assured, comrade president Ahmadinejad, of Zimbabwe's continuous support of Iran's just cause on the nuclear issue," Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, pledged last week. The prospect that Iran had secured exclusive uranium rights in Zimbabwe for its nuclear programme emerged following Mugabe's comments.

And what person doing business in Zimbabwe has more expertise in mining than the soon-to-be Nets owner? Vet that, David Stern.

Posted by eric at 10:02 AM

April 23, 2010

NBA: Expect Prokhorov to take Nets reins in May

NY Post
by Fred Kerber

Could it really be that Forest City Ratner (and the NBA) wanted the Atlantic Yards footprint cleared of all human life by May 17th so Mikhail Prokhorov could be present for the NBA draft lottery?

Soon ... not as soon as some suspect ... but soon.

Like less than three weeks soon.

That's when Russian billionaire Mikhail is expected to take over ownership of the Nets, an NBA spokesman said yesterday.

With the vacant possession issue resolved and all pertinent tenants and businesses due out of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards site by May, the league expects Prokhorov to be approved "by the middle of the month [of May],'' the league said.

Prokhorov needs the approval of the Board of Governors, a foregone conclusion. The board does not need to gather to vote and could do so by teleconference. Approval might lead to Prokhorov sitting on the dais at the May 18 lottery.

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NoLandGrab: Remember when the Knicks won the 1985 draft lottery, which allowed them to select Patrick Ewing first overall? Many draft watchers believed the lottery was fixed. Who wants to wager that the Nets' 25% chance of winning this year's draft lottery is more like 100%?

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

April 15, 2010

Could New Jersey end up with another NBA team after the Nets leave?

Evan Weiner Sports Comments

An era in New Jersey sports history ended earlier this week when the New Jersey Nets National Basketball Association franchise played the team's final game in the East Rutherford building that once was named after New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne. For the next two seasons the Nets will call Newark home and then it is onto Brooklyn — maybe.
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The new building was the lure for [former Nets' owner Roy] Boe just like the new building in Brooklyn was the target of Nets owner Bruce Ratner's affections although Ratner probably looked at the Nets' moving to Brooklyn as strictly part of a real estate deal.

We can be sure that Ratner looked at this strictly as a real estate deal.

The Nets' 35-year New Jersey run will end in 2012, if an arena grows in Brooklyn. But that does not necessarily mean that New Jersey cannot get another NBA team even though one-time New Jersey resident and NBA Commissioner David Stern about five years ago trashed New Jersey politicians saying "you blew it" when Nets owners could not get an arena built in Newark.

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Posted by eric at 11:26 PM

Byrne to Run: The (New Jersey!) Nets Exit the Meadowlands

The Awl
by David Roth

A long-time (New Jersey) Nets fan laments all the errors of the Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark era.

All those cartoonish "Tales of Jersey" villains—Jersey City's Frank Hague and his 30 years of graft-intensive mayoralty; clowns like Hague's successor, "The Little Guy" John V. Kenny; venal flyweights like Joseph Vas and a dozen others like him—turned out to be nothing compared to Nets' owner Bruce Ratner and his marketing guru, Brett Yormark. Those slick motherfuckers came across the river to Jersey, bought the Nets from the gaggle of hapless millionaires that had mismanaged the team for decades, and showed a state that knows from ruins how ruination is done. On Monday, in a swamp-bound, half-empty arena dwarfed by the nearby hulk of a failed "destination mall" called Xanadu, an embarrassingly outsized chapter in my life closed with a half-assed Nets loss to the mediocre Charlotte Bobcats. I was too worn out, both by the experience of the game and Ratner's tenure as Nets owner, to even feel bad about it.
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Ratner bought the Nets in 2004, in order to make a new Nets arena on Flatbush Avenue—originally one of those crashed-UFO Frank Gehry designs, then a widely derided pseudo-fieldhouse, and now a compromise between the two: the centerpiece of his plan to redevelop Atlantic Yards. If it ever gets built, the arena will be a very lucrative revenue source, but for the past six years Ratner has been stuck actually paying rent to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for the privilege of playing in the erstwhile Byrne Arena. With his debt reaching levels untenable even for real estate developers, Ratner will soon sell the Nets to Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, unless Prokhorov's dealings with Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe derail the sale. So, yes: a class act all around. And yet still, somehow, something both sully-able and sullied by Yormark's assaultive marketing.

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Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

April 13, 2010

War of Words Heats Up Over Prokhorov's Zimbabwegate

Runnin' Scared
by Neil deMause

​It's Day Three of the Great Zimbabwe Flap, and the rhetoric over a New Jersey Congressman's challenge to Russian bazillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets is heating up. Prokhorov fired back at Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-My-Constituents-Don't-Want-to-Drive-Through-Two-Tunnels-to-Watch-the-Nets-Lose) yesterday, calling the charges that he'd violated economic sanctions against Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe "erroneous," and saying that "we have no dealings whatsoever with companies or individuals on the sanctions list."

The NBA — which has already put on hold Prokhorov's approval as the new Nets majority owner (and minority owner of the planned Barclays Center arena) until the state figures out how to unchain Freddy's patrons and clear the arena site — chimed in that Prokhorov was fine in their book, issuing a statement reading in part: "U.S. companies are not prohibited from doing business in Zimbabwe; rather, they are prohibited from conducting business with specifically identified individuals or entities in that country. The NBA is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or entities."

To at least one sanctions expert, though, Prokhorov's Zimbabwe dealings are far from trivial. Usha Haley, an Economic Policy Institute research associate who told the Post that Prokhorov was engaged in "sanctions-busting," tells Runnin' Scared that she doesn't buy the metals magnate's defense: "They have been working with Zimbabwe's officials that have been banned by the U.S. government — there's no doubt about that."

Read on for much more with Haley about Prokhorov and Mugabe and how companies and rogue nations skirt sanctions. deMause concludes:

If Prokhorov were somehow sidelined, however, it would likely lead to the demise of the entire Atlantic Yards deal, since his cash is key to Bruce Ratner's razor-thin margins. The betting lines still have to have this as a longshot, but stranger things have killed development deals in this town.

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Posted by eric at 2:29 PM

Bruce Ratner reflects on past with Nets, looks to future under Prokhorov

The Internets [NYDailyNews.com]
by Julian Garcia

Bruce Ratner talking basketball sounds almost as phony as Bruce Ratner talking international sanctions.

"I’m gonna miss this place," Ratner said of the Meadowlands arena. "It’s been six years of ownership and we were fortunate to be in the playoffs three times and three times we didn’t make it. Obviously it was a difficult year. The team stuck with it though and the last third of the season they played hard and the last 12 games they won five. So I think we’ll do well next year."
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"I think we thought we’d win 25 or 30 games and we did worse than that," Ratner said. "But the purpose was to try to get ourselves better and I think we’re in a great spot. We’ll have a great draft choice opportunity and there’s also free agency. So I think we’ll be great. We’ve got three or four very good players."

As for the transfer of power, Ratner said "everything is in great shape" despite accusations by New Jersey Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell that Prokhorov is violating U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe by doing business with that country.

"It was inaccurate," Ratner said of Pascrell's accusation. "Not accurate."

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Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Noted Basketball Genius Bruce Ratner Gives an Exit Interview on the Nets; Denies Zimbabwe Problem

International human rights law expert and basketball genius Bruce Ratner attended the Nets' final (losing) game at the Meadowlands IZOD Center last night.
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It was inaccurate," Ratner said of Pascrell's accusation. "Not accurate."

Interesting. Both inaccurate and not accurate. What is certainly accurate is that Bruce Ratner will go down in history as one of the worst sports team owners ever.

Posted by eric at 1:28 PM

Nets Are Looking Ahead to a Fresh Start in a New Home

The New York Times
By Jonathan Abrams

This take on the Nets' last game ever at the Izod Center explains the lack of nostalgia.

The Nets join several New York-area sports teams — the Yankees and Mets and Giants and Jets — to find a new home. But the Nets’ departure is different. They announced intentions to move to Brooklyn several years ago, ostracizing much of the fan base.

Since then, the organization slashed payroll and traded recognizable faces. They lost millions of dollars each year while performing for what can kindly be described as a tidy crowd.

In an addendum to this article, the issue of Mikhail Prokhorov's alleged dealings with Robert Mugabe was addressed. Guess what -- the NBA says there's no problem. Hopefully, the Treasury Department will heed Congressman Bill Pascrell's call for a real review of Prokhorov's Zimbabwe dealings.

An N.B.A. spokesman said the Russian oligarch Mikhail D. Prokhorov was still on pace to acquire majority ownership of the Nets, despite a congressman’s denouncing Prokhorov’s dealings in Zimbabwe. “U.S. companies are not prohibited from conducting business with specifically identified individuals or entities in that country,” the spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement. “The N.B.A. is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or entities.” The response followed a New York Post article that stated that Representative Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat, asked for Prokhorov to be investigated for violating economic sanctions with business in Zimbabwe. Prokhorov’s Onexim Group called it “erroneous media reports.”

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Posted by steve at 9:44 AM

Former Nets coach Larry Brown leads Charlotte Bobcats to 105-95 victory over former team in final Meadowlands game

The Star-Ledger
By Dave D'Alessandro

The Nets completed a 12-69 season and have played their last game ever at the Izod Center and will be moving to Newark next season. The occasion was barely noted.

And when it was over, there was a strange pall over the entire proceedings. Principal owner Bruce Ratner, who hadn’t shown up more than a handful of times this season – and as eager as anyone to move the team to Newark next fall – was one of the few who stood and applauded the team when the buzzer went off.

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Posted by steve at 9:33 AM

April 12, 2010

Nothin’ but nyet! Jersey lawmaker says Ratner’s savior is illegally in bed with Mugabe!

The Brooklyn Paper
by Stephen Brown

Bruce Ratner’s sale of his financially troubled Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets hit a major obstacle on Sunday as a New Jersey congressman brought a full court press of allegations involving the would-be new owner’s shady business dealings in Zimbabwe.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D–New Jersey) is demanding that the federal Treasury Department investigate Mikhail Prokhorov’s investments in the notorious rogue nation — which may constitute a violation of U.S. sanctions against Robert Mugabe’s regime.

“This is of great concern,” Pascrell told Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in a letter dated April 11. “Mr. Prokhorov has extensive business dealings in the United States, including his most-recent efforts to purchase the New Jersey Nets. … Zimbabwe is ruled under a brutal, autocratic and repressive regime.”
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The United States’ strict sanctions — renewed by President Obama last year — forbid people with interests in the U.S. from also conducting most types of business in Zimbabwe.

A spokesman for Forest City Ratner had no comment. A spokesman for Prokhorov did not return a phone call and e-mail.

article

Related coverage...

Daily Transom [NYObserver.com], Yet Another Twist to Atlantic Yards

Just when it looks like the Atlantic Yards deal couldn't possibly be derailed--when even the Nets' new owner brandishing his Kalashnikov to 60 Minutes isn't enough to dissuade the N.B.A. from taking him--there comes this, from the Post.

Apparently, Mikhail Prokhorov might have ties to Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe, and a New Jersey congressman wants to know all about it.

Bruce Ratner's nightmare continues.

Can't Stop The Bleeding, Zimbabwe Illegit: New Nets Owner Has Business Experience In Place Even More Corrupt Than Jersey

Of course, Prokhorov isn’t an American citizen. And double-of-course this sadly probably isn’t going to do anything to impact the creepy oligarch’s ownership of the Nets or the development of Bruce Ratner’s redevelopment of South Brooklyn — architecture critics have already dubbed the ambitious underhaul “Little Tampa,” at least in my mind. It’ll take a lot more than dealing with the monster who absolutely shredded the country he helped create to disqualify a very rich man from buying a franchise in the NBA. The difficult part is coming up with what that could possibly be, short of not having enough money.

The Source [WSJ Blog], Of Billionaires, Basketball and Banned Investments

Could a New Zealand financier’s investments in an African dictatorship derail a lanky Russian billionaire’s dream of owning a U.S. basketball team?
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In response to questions from The Source, Renaissance Capital replied with the following statement:

Renaissance Capital is fully aware of the sanctions imposed by the United States on certain Zimbabwean persons and companies and takes its compliance obligations extremely seriously. Contrary to erroneous reports in the press, we have at all times strictly complied with all laws and have no relationship with sanctioned individuals or companies.

SW Radio Africa News, Mugabe, the Russian billionaire and basketball

Exiled investment banker, Gilbert Muponda, is familiar with Renaissance Capital’s involvement in Zimbabwe and told Newsreel; ‘They specialize in emerging markets that have a high return, but high risks, and they are experts at quantifying and spreading risk.’ He told us although the company did what any investment bank would do (i.e. seek opportunities) this was in violation of US targeted sanctions and the lawmakers in that country had a good case to charge them.

Found In Brooklyn, Dasvidania to Atlantic Yards Investor Mikhail Prokhorov?

Will an investigation lead to Prokhorov leaving the Atlantic Yards project? We can only hope! The whole project has reeked of corruption from day one yet somehow is a project funded by the taxpayers who will end up with nothing but a sports complex instead of a neighborhood.

ESPN New York with AP, NBA OK with Prokhorov's deals in Africa

The NBA is standing by its (very rich) man.

Prospective New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov came to his own defense Tuesday and was backed by the NBA after a congressman accused the Russian billionaire's company of violating sanctions and U.S. law by doing business with the government of Zimbabwe.

"Onexim Group takes very seriously the issue of law and sanctions as applied to Zimbabwe," Prokhorov said in a statement released through his company during the Nets' final game at the Meadowlands. "Contrary to erroneous media reports, the company and all of its holdings have always been in strict compliance with all United States and European rules regarding Zimbabwe and have had no dealings whatsoever with companies or individuals on the sanctions list."

"Onexim Group and Mikhail Prokhorov have been open and transparent about all their business dealings throughout the extensive NBA review process, and they intend to maintain this position going forward," the statement said.

International human rights law expert and NBA spokesman Mike Bass attempted to set the record straight.

"Congressman Pascrell is misinformed," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. "U.S. companies are not prohibited from doing business in Zimbabwe; rather, they are prohibited from conducting business with specifically identified individuals or entities in that country. The NBA is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or entities.

"Mr. Prokhorov's application is still on track to be voted on by the NBA Board of Governors once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site," Bass said.

Posted by eric at 11:45 PM

Analysis shows Nets lost $64M in latest fiscal year

SportsBusiness Journal
by John Lombardo

The expected closing of the New Jersey Nets sale to Mikhail Prokhorov comes after the team lost $64 million in the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, 2010, based on a SportsBusiness Journal analysis of quarterly earnings filings by the team’s parent company.

article [subscription or trial registration required]

NoLandGrab: If Bruce Ratner manages Atlantic Yards as well as he's managed the Nets, watch out.

Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

N.J. lawmaker seeks investigation into Mikhail Prokhorov's business ties, Nets ownership deal could be threatened

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-Passaic) has fired the first political torpedo aimed at Mikhail’s Prokhorov’s purchase of the Nets, and it is directed at the Russian’s business relationship with the corrupt and repressive government of Zimbabwe.

Pascrell, admittedly opposed to the Nets’ move to Brooklyn in two years, has asked the Treasury Department to investigate the ties between Prokhorov’s corporation, Onexim, with the African nation, which has been under U.S. sanctions for seven years for human-rights violations.

It is a violation of federal law for American citizens and companies or their subsidiaries to do business with Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.

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Related coverage...

NY Post, Pol whistles Nets owner

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner should investigate Mikhail Prokhorov's association with Zimbabwe's oppressive regime before the Russian billionaire is allowed to purchase the Nets and move them to Brooklyn, a New Jersey congressman said yesterday.

"I would respectfully request that you investigate all of Mr. Prokhorov's business dealings in Zimbabwe, specifically the February 2010 economic summit, and whether they violate the United States' sanctions regime against the country," Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) wrote in a letter to Geithner.

"The government of Zimbabwe suppresses freedom of speech and assembly, and reportedly restricts access to food in opposition areas," he said.

The Hill, Congressman wants probe into Russian potential buyer of NBA team

"This is disgusting," Pascrell said, according to the Post. "Obviously, the Board of Governors of the NBA didn't do their job properly when they vetted this deal."

NoLandGrab: Actually, the NBA did do their job properly, which was to approve Prokhorov no matter what. What they didn't do properly was the job.

National Legal and Policy Center, Prokhorov NBA Bid Gets Scrutiny; ACORN-Funder Ratner Needs Russian Billionaire to Build Brooklyn Arena

Ratner’s plans rely not only on Prokhorov’s investment but also on millions of dollars in tax breaks and a $400-million naming deal for the arena, to be known as Barclays Center. Barclays is Britain’s second largest bank. It seems like a variety of interests win if Ratner’s project is built. But they do not include ordinary Brooklynites, or the already-overextended American taxpayer.

Curbed, Actress Buys at 141 Fifth; Zimbabwe Delaying Atlantic Yards?

New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell is demanding a government inquiry into hopeful Nets buyer Mikhail Prokhorov's business dealings in Zimbabwe, which Pascrell says might have violated federal rules. Between that and the postponement of the NBA's vote on the sale of the Nets, Prokhorov's probably wishing he had that meditation chamber built already.

The Brooklyn Ink, POSSIBLE TIES TO ZIMBABWEAN DICTATOR MIGHT DELAY NETS MOVE TO BROOKLYN

Though the NBA insists he’s completely vetted, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is facing increased scrutiny by a Congressman who questions his company’s business dealings with Zimbabwe.

NetsAreScorching, NETS ON THE NET: 4/12/10 EDITION

The NBA thus far has not commented on the newest accusation that an investment bank owned by Mikhail Prokhorov’s firm Onexim, did business with the U.S.-sanctioned Zimbabwe.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, NBA, Nets, Prokhorov & Ratner Mum on Zimbabwe Sanctions Busting Story. Geithner Asked to Investigate

It should be noted that in 2001 all of New York's Congressional delegation voted for the sanctions. And two elected officials who have now moved on to higher places were amongst the bill's four co-sponsors—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.

Wonder what they would think if it becomes clear that there has been a whitewash to allow Prokhorov to flout US laws.

Posted by eric at 9:34 AM

April 11, 2010

It came from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn...

Political Leaders Need to Explain How Apparent Prokhorov Sanctions Busting Was Missed or Ignored

It appears that the US Treasury Department's sanctions do not allow the kind of business connections prospective Nets owner and prospective 45% owner of the Barclays Center Arena has with Robert Mugabe. Mugabe is considered by many to be one of the world's worst tyrants and the US has sanctioned him for this. It appears that Bruce Ratner's partner in the whole Atlantic Yards boondoggle has violated these laws.

Whether or not Mr. Prokhorov's extensive holdings in Zimbabwe—in light of his involvement with an American business enterprise—violate US law, remains to be seen. But clearly his involvement with the Nets, Ratner, New York City and State is unsavory.

Because of this, Ratner's project must come to a complete halt until the results of a federal inquiry into potential sanction violations by Mr. Prokhorov are known.

And the NBA must come forth and explain if they simply missed this information in its Prokhorov vetting process (and why?) or saw it and ignored it. Whether the latter or the former, David Stern has a lot of explaining to do.

NBA Shoots Big Airball on Prokhorov's Background Check

On April 8th, in The Star Ledger, NBA President Joel Litvin said:

"[Barclays Center Arena] Site possession is the only thing impacting the timing of the [NBA's] vote [on Prokhorov's ownership of the Nets]. The documentation of the Nets’ purchase and the background investigation of Mr. Prokhorov have been complete for some time."

Well, Mr. Litvin's basketball cartel may have completed its investigation of Prokhorov, but it clearly forgot to look at certain things or ignored some big red flags out of desperaton to land the billionaire's big bucks.

Lots of Egg On David Stern's Face With Prokhorov's Extensive Holdings in Zimbabwe

It's not a good week to be NBA commissioner David Stern, whose background check on Mikhail Prokhorov appears to have been as porous as the Nets 2010 defense.

Posted by eric at 10:54 PM

Sanction-busting Investigation Could Threaten Nets Deal, Atlantic Yards

Runnin' Scared

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) tells the Post that he's requesting a Treasury Department investigation to see if Mikhail Prokhorov, the russian investor who's trying to buy stakes in both the Nets and the planned Nets Arena in Brooklyn, has violated Bush-era sanctions against doing business with associates of Robert Mugabe and his government in Zimbabwe. Prokhorov's Onexim Group, which has offices in the United States, holds a 50% stake in Renaissance Capital, which has extensive holdings in Zimbabwe.

This is not good news for Bruce Ratner, who is depending on Prokhorov's investment to get his Atlantic Yards project built.

article

Related coverage...

Gothamist, New Nyets Owner May Have Done Business With Mugabe

Mikhail Prokhorov's plan to buy the New Jersey Nets may be put on hold as officials look into his possible Zimbabwean holdings. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of the Ways and Mean Committee will look into whether Prokhorov's companies in Zimbabwe violate rules that forbid American citizens, companies, and subsidiaries from doing business with President Robert Mugabe, known for his frequent human rights violations.
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Prokhorov's Renaissance Capital investment bank has interests in various Zimbabwean companies and banks, and was the financial sponsor of an economic forum in Zimbabwe, which is a violation of the sanctions.
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These violations could cause a block on the Nets deal, which could mean trouble for the Atlantic Yards project, which has already been delayed by eminent-domain lawsuits.

The Huffington Post, The NBA's Dirty Partner

With an estimated worth of $13 billion, Prokhorov is currently the richest man in Russia. But there are nice ways to get a billion dollars and there are not nice ways to get a billion dollars. One classic not so nice way is you deal with people nobody else will deal with. Like, for instance, Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe.
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One could argue that if Prokhorov wants to profit by doing business with Mugabe, well, that's his business. Unless he wants to do business here in the United States. where it happens to be illegal. The United States slapped sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2003. In 2008, sanctions were further strengthened by that old softie on human rights, President George W. Bush.

So, Mugabe must be pretty bad. But how bad?

Last year, Mugabe was rated the worst dictator in the world by Parade magazine (not exactly a left leaning bleeding heart publication.) His government denies voters their rights, brutalizes the opposition, censors the press, abuses women, inducts children into the army, and criminalizes homosexuality. His regime has a record of torturing students, journalists, even Americans. His country is recognized as one of the global leaders in the trafficking of human lives for forced labor and sexual exploitation. His nation is a place where human rights activists disappear forever.

Shorter answer: Mugabe is very bad.
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Ironically, one of the reasons the U.S. government finally cracked down on Mugabe was because of his regime's habit of "government backed land grabs." It seems the Russian oligarch might actually find this kind of behavior attractive, since the Atlantic Yards project he's investing in here is the worst government backed land grab to hit New York since they buried Robert Moses.

NBC Sports, Prokhorov guilty of skirting sanctions?

American businesses and their associates are prohibited from dealing with the repressive, widely condemned regime of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe. Pascrell notes that the proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn is "financed partly by the taxpayer," and this inquiry (if it happens) could seriously complicate what had been a smooth vetting process.

NBA FanHouse, Despite New Concerns, NBA Maintains Comfort With Prokhorov's Finances

The NBA hasn't directly responded to Pascrell's charge its investigation of Prokhorov -- compulsory with every change in team ownership -- was "disgusting." In a statement given to The Post Saturday and reiterated to FanHouse Sunday, a league spokesman defended the background check, calling it "very extensive and stringent" and reiterating that nothing disclosed caused the NBA pause in its recommendation of approval to the other 29 team owners. Prokhorov needs 23 of 29 votes to be approved by the league.

When asked Sunday by FanHouse whether Pascrell had asked the league to re-open its investigation of Prokhorov or deny Prokhorov's ownership bid outright, NBA officials declined to comment. The NBA also declined to answer questions on who ran the background check, whether the background check for Prokhorov was undertaken with any more depth than those used for previous ownership bids, or whether the league planned to re-open its investigation.

Fox Sports, Nets ownership deal may be in trouble

Battle of Brooklyn via Kickstarter, It ain't over till it's over

We are continuing to make progress on our cut.

Meanwhile...... things are not looking good for the project.

Posted by eric at 10:29 PM

April 9, 2010

NBA: No Nets sale until land is in hand

Field of Schemes

The NBA Board of Governors announced yesterday that it will likely postpone next week's scheduled vote on Mikhail Prokhorov as new majority owner of the New Jersey Nets until the state of New York has acquired all the land for the team's planned Brooklyn arena. "The Board will vote on Mr. Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site, which the team expects to occur in the near future," said league official Joel Litvin.

For those scoring at home, there's still one lawsuit pending against state seizure by eminent domain of several properties, charging that the Atlantic Yards development plan has changed so much since 2006 that the state's original eminent domain justification is no longer valid. Oral arguments take place Monday morning; check Atlantic Yards Report for up-to-the-minute reports.

link

Posted by eric at 10:31 AM

April 8, 2010

Nets ownership transfer to Mikhail Prokhorov delayed again

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

The NBA won’t approve Mikhail Prokhorov’s purchase of the Nets after all -- at least not next week, anyway.

The vote by the Board of Governors, originally scheduled for Friday, April 16th, will be postponed until the site-possession issue is resolved, because tenants have yet to vacate the area within the footprint of the Atlantic Yards project that includes the $800 million Barclays Center.

And there is still no clear timetable with which to clear that barrier, however, according to NBA President Joel Litvin.

“The Board will vote on Mr. Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site, which the team expects to occur in the near future,” Litvin said.

“Site possession is the only thing impacting the timing of the vote. The documentation of the Nets' purchase and the background investigation of Mr. Prokhorov have been complete for some time."

Once the Nets and Prokhorov achieve what is known as “vacant possession,” the league is expected to hold their ratifying vote via teleconference or e-mail.

link

Additional coverage...

The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Atlantic Yards holdouts holding up Nets sale to Russian billionaire

The NBA Board of Governors yesterday announced it was indefinitely postponing its scheduled April 16 vote on developer Bruce Ratner’s sale of majority interest in the struggling franchise to Russia’s second-richest man because a few holdouts have yet to buckle to the state’s use of eminent domain to take their homes and businesses to build the $800 million Brooklyn arena.

AP via NESN.com, Vote on Sale of Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov Will Probably Be Delayed

Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov is probably going to have to wait a little longer before becoming the new owner of the New Jersey Nets.
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Prokhorov agreed last December to buy 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the new arena from Bruce Ratner's Forest City Ratner Cos.

The Nets have endured a dreadful season, posting an 11-67 mark with four games left in the regular season, clinching at least a tie for the worst record in the league this season.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nyet to Nets

Despite a report that soon-to-be Nets owner Vladimir Prokhorov was willing to pay him between $12-15 million per year, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski refused to express any interest in taking the job.

"Vladimir" Prokhorov?

Krzyzewski said in a statement prior to leading the Blue Devils past Butler in Monday’s NCAA Championship classic that “you would be flattered if someone would offer you a job, but I would not be interested.”

Attention Brooklyn Daily Eagle! See the stories above so you don't repeat the error below (which we've helpfully underlined):

Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who is expected to officially take over Nets ownership from Downtown developer Bruce Ratner next week, is determined to bring a big-name coach to the franchise prior to its expected arrival in Brooklyn by 2012.

Posted by eric at 10:46 PM

April 7, 2010

Nets see sunny skies ahead with new owner

Bergen Record
by Al Iannazzone

Playing for an owner who spends unthinkable millions to make his team good and players happy was Devin Harris’ old life. It seems he will return to it.

The Nets’ point guard was spoiled playing for Mark Cuban in Dallas. Future Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s net worth is roughly $13.4 billion — or $11 billion more than Cuban, according to Forbes. By all accounts Prokhorov wants to spend on the Nets.

He plans to offer Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski $12 million to $15 million per year to be their coach and general manager. That got the attention of Harris and other Nets, regardless of whether Prokhorov gets his man.

"I don’t think anybody knows really what to expect," Harris said after Tuesday’s practice. "Really, anything is possible with this guy."

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NoLandGrab: One thing they can expect — given Prokhorov's control of the internet — is no more Twittering by Terrence Williams or CDR or anyone else.

Posted by eric at 10:16 AM

April 2, 2010

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov making smart moves as he starts rebuilding New Jersey Nets

NYDailyNews.com
by Mitch Lawrence

Mikhail Prokhorov has yet to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors, but that hasn't stopped him from becoming the Best. NBA. Owner. Ever. Or maybe it's just that he isn't Bruce C. Ratner.

Smart guy, that Mikhail Prokhorov.
...

"They should be excited about the new owner," said Phoenix's Steve Nash, after the Suns' win in the Meadowlands on Wednesday night. "He's got incredibly deep pockets, and, in many ways, a positive attitude as far as spending. I think he will build a winner. If you have money and you're a good businessman and you're willing to spend, you can be successful. It seems that teams will struggle when they're not willing to spend."

Don't remind the Nets of that kind of owner. They had one in Bruce Ratner, king of the penny-pinchers. But now they get Prokhorov, richer than rich, and a smart guy to boot.

link

Posted by eric at 12:11 PM

Mail's In (Nets April Edition)

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

The Star-Ledger's Nets beat reporter answers reader mail.

Hey Dave: Very suspicious about this Prokhorov guy, aren’t you, my man? You just warming up to be the killjoy next year?
Tully

Neither, Tully. But even you have to admit this cloying affection he’s received has a Jonestown vibe to it. Obviously, it’s nice to have an owner with a bank account and a competitive nature, and I love the idea of an owner coming from another culture, because that’s what a global league should be about. But it’s not so nice to have an owner who readily admits he could cash out in five years because he’s operating this venture as a business and nothing more – which in the end will look like a metaphorical middle finger directed at his fan base. I’m not naïve enough to think that owners operate their teams as a public trust anymore, but anyone who uses the term “strategic investment” when it comes to sports deserves some strategic skepticism. Let’s just wait to see what he does with management before we pull out the pom-poms: If he brings in his gaggle of junior managers to learn the ropes under Thorn (who, by the way, should be given the courtesy of picking his own staff, if not his successor) this could easily turn into a debacle. It will be Mikky’s first big decision, and it will speak volumes about whether he cares more about “strategic investments” than he does the NBA virtues as tradition, management discipline, team chemistry, fan loyalty, etc.

How quickly Nets fans forget. The current owner is about to divest himself after six years of owning the team — the ultimate "strategic investment" that greased the skids for an epic Brooklyn land grab.

Click thru for more Q & A on the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, Bruce Ratner and more.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, From Dave D'Alessandro's mailbag: on Prokhorov and the Brooklyn move

Posted by eric at 11:09 AM

April 1, 2010

Russian's wealth will be overall Nets gain

Irish Times
by George Kimball

The Irish Times assesses the New Jersey Nets' past, present and future (not an April Fools joke).

The scenario posed by a dodgy Russian zillionaire acquiring a moribund franchise and attempting to buy his way to a championship is, of course, a more familiar tale across the ocean than in the US. And while Prokhorov’s name has been familiar to basketball fans in both Brooklyn and New Jersey since September (when he provisionally acquired an 80 per cent stake in the Nets contingent on his relocating the franchise from the latter to the former), it is safe to say until the 60 Minutes episode aired, most Americans probably thought Prokhorov was the guy who wrote Peter and the Wolf.
...

Just how thorough this [NBA] “investigation” will be remains to be learned, but since some of the people doing the investigating have fairly checkered pasts of their own, the best guess is: Not Very. Put it this way: neither [NBA Commissioner David] Stern nor any of Prokhorov’s prospective brethren owners seemed disturbed in the least by the revelations of Sunday’s 60 Minutes episode.

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Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

March 31, 2010

Stupor Size Thee: Nets’ Yormark Tries To Buy Bag Man’s Silence With A Big Mac

Can't Stop The Bleeding

YormarkBrownBagLunch.jpg


While Monday’s 90-84 defeat of San Antonio assured the Nets they’d no longer challenge for the worst NBA mark of all time, dignity in the Meadowlands is sadly, short-lived. Following an embarrassing, widely-publicized confrontation with a paper bag-wearing fan, Nets exec Brett Yormark attempted to curry favor with a conciliatory luncheon/webcast earlier today, catered by a local McDonald’s. From the AP’s Tom Canavan:

“Today was another good example of us being able to tell our fans, hey, when you want a voice, you’ll get one with us,” Yormark said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “That’s who we are, the type of franchise we are and we want to be. I think resorting to a brown bag doesn’t do anyone any good and they realize that, and they were very nice and had good things to say about the franchise.”

The lunch at the team’s headquarters in East Rutherford was streamed over the Nets’ Web site although the broadcast shut down because so many people logged on, Yormark said.

“I think, in many respects, a lot of good things have come out of this,” Yormark said. “We were able to reinforce our message to season ticket holders. We don’t have any more brown bags in the building, not that we had a lot to begin with before that incident, our players seemed to rally around it and we are playing our best basketball of the season.

“I don’t know if it was a negative,” Yormark added. “It was an unfortunate incident. I try to make the most of any situation and I think I did.”

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NoLandGrab: We'd be more inclined to don the bag while lunching with Yormark than while sitting courtside.

Related coverage...

Bleacher Report, Real Fans Wear Bags: A Revolution Against Inept NBA Management

“Thank you for coming to the game, paying my salary, and watching this historically horrendous 7 win, 63 loss team I’ve helped assemble.”

That’s what Brett Yormark, the New Jersey Nets Chief Executive, should have said to two fans sitting courtside during the Nets’ loss to Miami on Monday night.

Hell, he should have tattooed [it] to his face, or at least included it [in] the marketing for “Free Tax Return Night”—the worst promotion giveaway in sports history.

Posted by eric at 10:12 AM

March 30, 2010

Nets avoid worst record in NBA history with 90-84 victory over San Antonio Spurs

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

Break up the Nets!

Quick, somebody call hell – find out if it’s frozen over.

The Nets won their 10th game of the season tonight, and never mind that the victims — the mighty San Antonio Spurs — were missing two of their best players.

The more pertinent development was that the Nets showed more resolve in the last five minutes than they had shown in the last five months, outscoring Tim Duncan’s team 18-7 down the stretch to post a stunning 90-84 triumph before 13,053 grateful witnesses at Izod Center.

The ancillary benefit: The 1972-73 Sixers – owners of that 9-73 record – still stand alone in NBA infamy.

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NoLandGrab: 10th win not withstanding, Bruce Ratner is still the worst owner in NBA history.

Posted by eric at 10:17 AM

March 29, 2010

Nets Executive Has New Take on Brown Bagger

Off the Dribble [NYTimes NBA Blog]
by Ken Belson

Any excuse for The Times to give ink to the woeful Nets and their self-promoting promoter-in-chief.

In the long, strange trip known as the Nets’ 2009-2010 season, Tuesday may turn out to be a red-letter day on the weirdness calendar.

Brett Yormark, the team’s chief executive, will host a Brown Bag Lunch Summit where he hopes to have “a constructive discussion about the future of the Nets” with Chris Lisi.
...

Lisi made news when he wore a brown bag over his head during a Nets game against the Miami Heat last Monday. Yormark, whose team has just nine wins this season, lost his cool and started shouting at Lisi, who was sitting courtside — as a guest of the Nets.
...

Now, Yormark hopes to turn Lisi’s frustration into a positive by chatting at the team’s headquarters about where the team is headed. The discussion, which will include radio broadcasters Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw, will be streamed live on the Nets’ Web site.

Some fans, though, think Yormark is pushing the whole brown bag thing too far. Why, they say, should he look to Lisi for advice about the Nets when there are hundreds of season ticket holders who would happily share their thoughts?

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NoLandGrab: Why? Because Yormark is catering to the "casual fan" and the news media — not loyal (and long-suffering) season ticket holders

Additional coverage...

AP via The Star-Ledger, Nets CEO Brett Yormark to have lunch with brown bag-wearing fan

Yormark defended his actions the next day, saying he was standing up for his team, which is 9-64 and needs one win in its last nine games to avoid matching the NBA record for fewest wins.

Posted by eric at 9:35 PM

March 28, 2010

Nets clinch no worse than tie for worst-ever NBA team

The New York Times, Another Win Puts Nets Step Further From History

Before a surprisingly festive crowd of 13,469, Brook Lopez scored 37 points and Yi Jianlian added 31 — both career highs — to lead the Nets to a 118-110 victory, their ninth of the season. Ten games remain for them to separate themselves from the futility record and the 9-73 Philadelphia 76ers of 1972-73.
...

Call them laughable, but seldom has a team watched by so few — the Nets are last in N.B.A. attendance — been so memorable. As they have tied a yellow ribbon around their inglorious Meadowlands residency, the Nets have been terrifyingly bad. But their timing could not be better.

Bottoming out in near-historic proportion has apparently made them a more attractive reclamation project for Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian oligarch who is poised to own 80 percent of the team, a 6-foot-8-inch would-be savior soon to ride his stretch limo to the rescue.
...

Has Prokhorov already begun to rub off on the Nets? After he materialized as an angel of mercy for the beleaguered owner and real-estate developer, Bruce Ratner, the Nets reached a deal to escape the Izod Center and its surrounding labyrinth of half-baked construction. Their planned palace in downtown Brooklyn — the Barclays Center — finally had its much-delayed groundbreaking.

NoLandGrab: Prokhorov, however, was noticeably absent from that groundbreaking ceremony.

NY Post, Nets win again; avoid breaking worst-ever record

Good thing Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov didn't wait until now to try to buy the Nets.

Imagine what the price tag would be. The cost skyrockets when you're hot. Consecutive-wins hot like the Nets, who not only made it two in a row for the first time this season but also won their ninth game overall last night to insure they will not be the sole owners of the NBA's worst-ever record.

NLG: The Nets returned to form Saturday night in Chicago, losing to the Bulls 106-83.

Posted by eric at 7:32 PM

When the Nets left New Jersey the first time

NewJerseyNewsroom.com
By Eric Model

This article looks at the history of the New Jersey Nets team. Although the author makes the mistake that the site of the Nets arena is the same as one proposed for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he is quite right in wondering why public money is going towards a private, professional basketball arena.

And what fate awaits the Nets? Once they do or don't break the NBA record for fewest wins in a season in a couple of weeks, they'll be leaving the Meadowlands to join the Devils in Newark's Prudential Center – at least for a little while.

And will the New Jersey Nets ultimately become the Brooklyn Nets? Though it's starting to look like that scenario is getting closer to reality, only time will tell. There's still a case to be made either way.

Yes, they've broken ground for a new "Barclays Center" (no one calls it an arena anymore) at the site that a new stadium for the Brooklyn Dodgers was proposed over 60 years ago. At the same time, these are tough times and perhaps there are more pressing needs for scarce dollars than to invest in another professional sports palace.

We'll see.

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Posted by steve at 8:30 AM

March 25, 2010

Nets Win a Game, Try to Win PR Battle

Bag flap turns into promotional opportunity

NBC New York
by Josh Alper

Those circumstances are what make it hard to fall totally in love with Yormark. Learning that the bag-wearer was at the game using a free ticket provided by the team makes it easier to understand the CEO's torment -- he's not the first to react that way as Elaine Benes will tell you -- but it is still hard to justify the way he responded on a couple of levels.

Since the Nets give away as many tickets as anyone (NoLandGrab sat in $120 seats last season that our host had acquired for a $3.75 handling charge), Yormark should hardly be surprised. Nor should he be upset, since a fan could easily be disgruntled regardless of the price paid. Has he never heard of "opportunity cost?"

First is the fact that he did it so publicly and drew so much attention to something that would have totally escaped notice if not for Yormark's outburst. There aren't enough people actually at Nets games these days to make something that happens at one of those games turn out to be more than an urban legend unless it gets blown wildly out of proportion. A marketing brain like Yormark's surely knows that, which makes his response a bit surprising.

That's not the worst part, though. The worst part was Yormark's statement following the incident which was full of puffery about respect for the team and respect for the fans. It's hard to swallow that in the face of the way Yormark and his cronies have gutted the team and used it as a vessel for Bruce Ratner's real estate dreams while the basketball operations fell apart.

article

Posted by eric at 10:24 PM

March 24, 2010

Nets offering fans 'bag exchange' against Kings

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

Oh, God, didn't we beg Yormark not to stoop to this?

As you probably had guessed, Nets CEO Brett Yormark came up with a workable solution to the baghead issue:

The Nets had a “Bag Exchange” Wednesday night, when all fans were invited to turn in their bags for a nylon bag with the Nets logo on it, and a note from Yormark himself. The note read, “Thanks for letting us see your face, we hope we see it more often at Nets games – Regards, Brett Yormark.”

The team did not promote the exchange beforehand; they merely instructed personnel to identify bag-wearers and offer to make the swap. The nylon bag will also include trading cards.

But won't fans suffocate with nylon bags over their heads?

As for the original perpetrator, a gentleman from Morristown who was seated with his brother in the second row, Yormark said he invited him over for a bag lunch next week.

“We might stream it live on our website, so all the fans can enjoy a nice constructive conversation about the team, because he was expressing his disgust the other night,” Yormark said. “Again, the tickets he received were free, and I thought it was inappropriate, so he expressed himself and I expressed myself.”

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NoLandGrab: "The tickets he received were free?" Of course they were — because nobody gives away more free tickets than... Brett Yormark.

Related coverage...

AP via MSNBC.com, Nets executive comes back with plan for paper bags

Nets spokesman Barry Baum said two people accepted the exchange offer by halftime.

NLG: Which means that tomorrow, the box score will indicate that 5,928 people accepted the exchange offer.

Posted by eric at 9:25 PM

Unhappy ending? Woeful Nets on verge of being NBA's worst

USA Today
by J. Michael Falgoust

USA Today catches up on the saga that is the New Jersey Nets.

With the games dwindling as the New Jersey Nets steer toward NBA-record futility, the tension mounts for players, fans and management alike.

In the locker room, there doesn't appear to be denial or anger. Only acceptance of what could be the inevitable.

"It's very realistic we might go down as the worst team in history," 10th-year guard Keyon Dooling says.
...

The groundbreaking ceremony for the complex at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn was March 11. Newark — a "much-needed ... sampling environment," Yormark says — is reachable by mass transit, unlike Izod Center. Ten subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road will be at the base of Barclays, 13 miles east of Izod.

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NoLandGrab: A "much-needed ... sampling environment?" Does anyone know what Yormark's talking about? Does he know?"

Posted by eric at 12:14 PM

Sad-sack Nets fan is bag deal

NY Post
by David Satriano and Fred Kerber

...And still more Paper Bag fan vs. Yormark.

[Chris] Lisi, 20, of Middletown, N.J., was the courtside fan who wore a brown paper bag over his head Monday night, prompting an angry exchange with Nets CEO Brett Yormark. Lisi and his brother, Rob, were sitting two rows from the court with some friends when Yormark approached them.

"At first I didn't know who he was, and he said he was the Nets president," said Lisi, a former Nets season-ticket holder who works for a delivery service that counts among its customers Josh Boone. "I thought, 'Wait, Rod Thorn is the president. He's lying.'"

article

NoLandGrab: The lying should have tipped Lisi off that it really was Yormark.

Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

March 23, 2010

New Jersey Nets executive Brett Yormark regrets confrontation with bag-wearing fan

NY Daily News
by Julian Garcia

All the "F**k Ratner" sign talk today almost made us forget about Nets CEO Brett Yormark's crazy antics during the team's loss last night to the Miami Heat, a story that's getting more ink than any Nets-related story since, well, since maybe ever.

[Photo: Antonelli/Daily News]

Brett Yormark, the Nets executive who got into a shouting match with a bag-wearing fan at Monday night's game at the Meadowlands, issued a statement earlier Tuesday regarding the incident. And he wasn't exactly apologetic.

Saying Nets fans have been "great" throughout this "tough season," Yormark defended his decision to confront a fan in the second row who was wearing a bag over his head between the third and fourth quarters of Monday night's 99-89 loss to the Heat. The Nets fell to 7-63 and are on pace to break the all-time record for fewest wins in a season.

According to the fan - Chris Lisi of Middletown, N.J. - Yormark asked him why he was wearing the bag, and when he responded with a sarcastic, "Because the Nets are so good," Yormark snapped at him.

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NoLandGrab: It would seem that the self-serving Yormark, based on his non-apology apology, "regrets" the confrontation because it was caught by photographers. We stand by our call for his resignation.

Related coverage...

The Star-Ledger, Nets CEO Brett Yormark issues statement on argument with fan

[Photo: Tim Farrell/The Star-Ledger]

The Nets this afternoon released a statement from the team's CEO, Brett Yormark, who got into an argument with a fan Monday night, during the Nets' 99-89 loss to the Miami Heat at Izod Center. The fan was seated courtside, in the second row of seats, opposite the Nets' bench and near where Yormark sits during games.

“Our fans have been great and they’ve stuck with us through a tough season,'' Yormark says in the statement. "I did not agree with the way this person expressed his opinion of our team last night and I let him know. It’s been a frustrating season for all of us, but I will continue to stand up for our players, our fans, and our organization. We have an exciting future ahead and we appreciate all of our fans’ support.”

Ball Don't Lie [Yahoo! Sports], Don't even try to wear a bag on your head to a Nets game

Speaking truth to power has its consequences, such as ferocious finger-pointing and getting yelled at.

Of course, Yormark had the last laugh — the bag-headed Lisi actually bought tickets to a Nets game. You win again, corporate infrastructure.

NorthJersey.com, NETS BLOG: Team CEO vs. bag-wearing fan

Earlier this season, there were a few fans wearing paper bags over their heads when the Nets lost their record 18th consecutive game to start this campaign.

Our guess is some more fans will be wearing bags tonight after the publicity this received. And Yormark probably will respond with some type of giveaway for the remaining home games to show he still appreciates the fans.
...

“We play for each other out on the court,” Courtney Lee said. “No one pays attention to the fans – they’re going to cheer or they’re not."

NLG: If the Nets' lack of effort hadn't clued you in, there you have it — the Nets don't care about you.

NBC New York, Humiliated by Brown Bag, Facts, Nets CEO Yells at Fan

Just when you thought the Nets' season couldn't get any worse, it did.

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Fan 1, CEO 0

In Indiana, they regard basketball as more than just a land-grab Trojan horse.

It's one thing to be lousy. It's another to be lousy and have skin so thin you can see through it.

That's pretty much the story these days for the 7-63 New Jersey Nets and their CEO, Brett Yormark, aka Mr. Sensitive.
...

If he'd have been smart, he'd have bought the guy a beer and offered him tickets to the next home game. Of course, if he were smart, his team wouldn't be 7-63.

Game On! [USA Today], Nets CEO takes on sack-headed fan

Beware making fun of the woeful New Jersey Nets when team CEO Brett Yormark is anywhere near, as a fan wearing a paper bag over his head learned last night.
...

Meantime, the fireworks failed to inspire the Nets. The 99-89 loss to the Heat was their 14th consecutive defeat at home as they fell to 7-63 and stayed on pace to break the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers' NBA record of 73 losses in a season.

NYMag.com, Nets CEO Can’t Believe Fans Think His Team Stinks

Last night, the Nets lost their fourteenth consecutive home game — they sure are sending out their East Rutherford digs with a bang — and fans commemorated the occasion as fans often do: By putting a paper bag over their heads. (To exemplify embarrassment, not to asphyxiate themselves, as far as we know.) No big deal, right? It happens.

ESPN.com, CEO, fan of 7-win Nets square off

The New Jersey Nets' sad-sack season appeared to hit another low Monday night when CEO Brett Yormark shouted at a fan wearing a paper bag over his head.

Off the Dribble [NY Times blog], For Team Management, Nets Are Not Bag-Worthy

Yormark is a relentless marketer trying to sell a miserable team that will move to Newark in the fall and to Brooklyn two years or more after that. It is surprising that Yormark has not found a sponsor for Angry Fan Bag Night.

NLG: "Relentless marketer?" How about prevaricating huckster? Our advice to Yormark, who's endless self-promotion script has him getting by on three hours' sleep a night: sleep in — after you resign.

Posted by eric at 5:40 PM

NETS Host Local Basketball Clinic To Fight Obesity

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Press Release

On March 2, the NETS teamed up with the Lutheran Family Health Centers and Health Plus to host a basketball clinic at Sunset Park High School for 100 children from six area schools.

Children ranging in age from kindergarten through twelfth grade participated in drills and exercises alongside NETS player Josh Boone, NETS staff, dancers and team mascot, Sly.

This second annual event is part of the “Shoot for Better Health” campaign, which encourages students to score a perfect 5-2-1-0 every day. This initiave, created by Lutheran’s school health program and endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, is about: eating five servings of fruits and vegetables, limiting TV and computer time to only two hours a day, getting at least one hour of exercise a day, and drinking zero soda or sugar sweetened drinks.

As a major contributor to the program’s success, the NETS will also host an awards night in March where students will be publicly honored during a live NBA game.

“The Nets are very pleased to… provide an incentive for these children to excel in such a crucial area of their lives,” said Brett Yormark, president and CEO, Nets Sports and Entertainment.

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NoLandGrab: The Nets, whose sponsors include McDonald's and Mars, will also be happy to provide these children the chance to break their healthy fast at the IZOD Center with treats like nachos, jumbo sugary sodas and cotton candy. Don't forget to stop by the M&M's candy and merchandise store!

Posted by eric at 10:08 AM

While Yormark aimed "not to alienate our core fan base," paper bag incident shows the limits of the future-in-Brooklyn strategy

Atlantic Yards Report

The hapless Nets are still playing in New Jersey, at the antiquated Izod Center, and last night Nets Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark took exception to a fan wearing a bag over his head sitting behind the Nets' bench, a clash that was noticed by many in the press.

Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News reported:

The fan claimed that Yormark asked him why he was wearing the bag and that when he sarcastically answered, "Because the Nets are so good," Yormark snapped at him.

Forget the present

Yormark surely is thinking more about the future--new players and a marketing platform. At the Barclays Center groundbreaking on March 11, there were no current Nets--they were on the road--and no one said that much about basketball.

After all, the team is on a path toward breaking the record for annual losses, a path that positions it for the best shot in the lottery for the top draft pick and thus turning the team around when it moves to Brooklyn.

"Our goal is to be the most community-active team in professional sports," Yormark said. "I can assure you that the Nets will be part of the fabric of the community like the Dodgers used to be. It will be Brooklyn's team."

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NoLandGrab: Yeah, we can see it now. Brook Lopez riding the B67 to games. Devin Harris tending bar at Barbés during the off-season. CDR opening a hardware store in East Flatbush. Yeah, just like the Dodgers used to do it. Sure.

Posted by eric at 9:44 AM

March 22, 2010

New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark barks at fan wearing paper bag in loss as team falls to 7-63

NY Daily News
by Julian Garcia

New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark spends a lot of time extolling the "fan experience" at Nets games. Who knew that "experience" included having Yormarketing Genius get in your face for hanging a paper bag over your head in shame?

The Nets have been in the bag for months. Now their fans are, too, and that was too much for one team executive to take.

Between the third and fourth quarters of Monday night's 99-89 loss to the Miami Heat at the Meadowlands, Nets CEO Brett Yormark got into a heated confrontation with a fan wearing a bag over his head who was sitting in the second row across from the Nets' bench.

The fan claimed that Yormark asked him why he was wearing the bag and that when he sarcastically answered, "Because the Nets are so good," Yormark snapped at him. A Yormark spokesperson said he did not have any comment.

What could he say, anyway? Yormark's team fell to 7-63 last night, remaining on pace to break the NBA record for futility, set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73.

article

NoLandGrab: Let us be the first news outlet to officially call for Yormark's resignation. At the very least, he should be forced to wear a bag over his head for the remainder of the season. And please, Brett, no silly paper bag promotions, ok?

Related coverage...

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Touchy Yormark

Great way to build a relationship with the community of fans—give them a lousy product and then yell at them for being upset. What marketing genius!

Bergen Record, Nets can't take the Heat, lose 14th straight at home, 99-89

NO FAN FAVORITE: During the second half, CEO Brett Yormark had a heated exchange with some fans sitting across from the Nets’ bench, including one wearing a bag over his head.

The Star-Ledger, John Loyer coaches in place of Kiki Vandeweghe in Nets' 99-89 loss to Heat

Two fans wearing paper bags on their heads in the VIP seats had a heated exchange with uber-fan-friendly Nets CEO Brett Yormark during the third period.

NLG: "Uber-fan-friendly?" Apparently not.

Posted by eric at 11:20 PM

March 20, 2010

Ownership Transfer Could Slip To May; Mass Protest Is Planned

Nets Daily
by Net Income

Despite a ground breaking ceremony, the Atlantic Yards project is not yet moving ahead.

NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said this week that the transfer of ownership from Bruce Ratner to Mikhail Prokhorov appeared to be on track, and possibly could be voted on at the NBA Board of Governors meeting on April 16. But a reading of how evictions work seems to indicate that deadline could slip. Indeed, Nets officials are now starting to think the NBA won't get to vote on Prokhorov til late April or, more likely, early May.

The issue relates to a clause in the contract between state on one hand and Ratner and Prokhorov on the other. It requires all properties in the Barclays Center footprint to be "vacated", that is empty, before the arena lease can be drawn up. The lease is the final step in the Nets sale.

Although the ESDC has told those living in the footprint they must leave by April 3, most are unlikely to do so. The judge in the case can order an eviction at that point, authorizing officials to enforce his order. However, once an eviction order is issued, the judge can extend the deadline on a case-by-case basis, giving residents more time to relocate before authorities show up to seize their property. That process will take time, an ESDC spokesman told the Brooklyn Downtown Star, without saying how much time.

Meanwhile, a protest leader at Freddy's Bar says he's contacted eminent domain critics around the country hoping to raise an army of 6,000 protesters to stop authorities from seizing the bar. He adds he's willing to go to jail if need be. "Its going to be a big standoff," he promises.

link

Posted by steve at 8:35 AM

Leading the Nets’ Cheers, for Everything but Victories

The New York Times
By Howard Beck

In order to avoid taking a critical look at the Atlantic Yards project, the Times will do just about anything. They even punished a reporter by forcing him to cover a Nets game and report on the Nets' master of ceremonies.

Marco G. is yelling, because he wants to, because he needs to and because if he stops, someone at the Izod Center just might fall asleep. You’re not supposed to sleep at a professional basketball game.

“Nets fans, it’s too quiet in here!” he bellows.

It is almost always too quiet in here.

The Nets are coming down the stretch of a fantastically awful season, playing in an obsolete, half-empty arena and doing little to warrant anyone’s support — let alone his lung capacity.

...

The Nets have only nine games left in the Meadowlands before moving to Newark’s Prudential Center for two years and then, ultimately, to a new arena in Brooklyn. The basketball may or may not improve along the way.

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NoLandGrab: The Times' coverage of the Atlantic Yards project is unlikely to improve.

Posted by steve at 8:14 AM

March 17, 2010

Jordan, officially OK'd by owners, puts his rep on the line

NBA.com
by Art Garcia

This story is mostly about Michael Jordan being approved as the new owner of the Charlotte Bobcats (which means compulsive gamblers are now welcome in the owners' circle, along with landgrabbers and other people with questionable pasts). But the story includes this update:

Prokhorov-Nets deal on track

[NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam] Silver said the New Jersey Nets sale to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov remains on track to be completed in early-to-mid April.

"It would be our hope that the deal would be completed by the Board of Governors meeting," said Silver, referring to April 16 gathering of the league's owners in New York.

Silver said the financial hurdles between Prokhorov and current Nets owner Bruce Ratner have been cleared. Issues related to the new arena in Brooklyn still need to be resolved. Ground was broken last week and the Barclays Center is scheduled to open in 2012.

"What is largely holding up the Prokhorov deal are factors outside the control of either the buyer or the seller, or the league for that matter," Silver said. "Those are various legal procedures in Brooklyn. We're only a certain number of weeks away from that deal being consummated."

article

The news above makes clear the obvious jumping-the-gun error in this story:

Business Insider, 15 Finance Kings And The Sports Teams They Own

Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia's largest gold producer, and President of Onexim Group, owns 80% of the NJ Nets.

Prokhorov only recently bought the team in September of last year. Now he's the primary owner alongside part owners Jay Z and Bruce Ratner.

NoLandGrab: The distinction between agreeing to buy the team and actually closing on the purchase was apparently lost on Business Insider.

Posted by eric at 2:39 PM

March 15, 2010

Atlantic Yards breaks ground: Nets are the heartbreak kids

The Star-Ledger, Editorial

he bulldozers are scraping the earth at Atlantic Yards, and it appears the Nets’ long-doubted relocation to Brooklyn is all but official. Until the divorce is final, they’ll hang around for two more years at the Prudential Center in Newark, and then they’ll be gone.

You’d think it would be easy to say goodbye to a team with fewer victories than Congressional Republicans. But chances are the Nets are going to get good and sexy before they leave — like the spouse who loses the weight, gets the makeover, then runs off with, well, a Russian millionaire.

Actually, that's billionaire.

We feel a heartbreak coming on.

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NoLandGrab: New Jersey's heartbreak over losing the Nets is nothing compared to brooklyn's heartbreak over "gaining" them.

Posted by eric at 12:25 PM

March 13, 2010

The InterNets

Daily News
By Julian Garcia

If you wanted to know what's planned by the Nets management, why would you talk to Bruce Ratner, who is about to sell the team to Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov?

They are breaking ground in Brooklyn today for a new arena that the Nets will play in. As part of the publicity campaign, Bruce Ratner went on WFAN and talked about a wide range of topics in a good interview with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. You can read about most of it in tomorrow's paper but here are a few out-takes.

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Posted by steve at 8:22 AM

Groundbreaking Provides Hope in Otherwise Dismal Nets Campaign

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By John Torenli

This is a profile of New Jersey Nets interim coach and general manager Kiki Vandeweghe. In this quote he tries to express his high regard for Brooklyn.

“The nice thing about Brooklyn is, it gives you instant history,” the former two-time NBA All-Star added. “It has a great tradition of sports. Obviously you are close to Manhattan. You are right there with easy access, one subway stop away.”

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NoLandGrab: Vandeweghe should be proud of the "instant history" he's helped to create where the Nets are already part of Brooklyn demonolgy.

Posted by steve at 7:22 AM

March 12, 2010

New Jersey's Loss, Brooklyn's Gain?

Or is it the other way around?

The Star-Ledger, Barclays Center groundbreaking signals beginning of end of NBA basketball in New Jersey

So Ratner was happy. His basketball team is monumentally bad, and that’s on his permanent record, but he was happy.

If you’re detached from all this, it was strange watching him. He was always a better guy than the fans and media depicted him, even if his aims aren’t always as altruistic as he claims to be. He and his powerful friends kept referring to this groundbreaking as a beginning, but if you live two bridges away — as most of us do — you get a completely different impression.

It is really an ending.

Trivia: The words “New Jersey” were uttered exactly once Thursday, and only in passing by Gov. David Paterson, as he bemoaned the loss of his beloved ABA champs to Piscataway.

There’s no sense getting maudlin about it like Paterson did, because it’s just a fact: More than anything else, this groundbreaking represented the beginning of the end of NBA basketball in New Jersey, the end of whatever emotional investment you might have in the Nets, even the end of Ratner, whose managing role expires “in two more months, probably,” he said.

NY Daily News, Bruce Ratner defends decision to move New Jersey Nets deep into New York Knicks territory

The Nets, who are wrapping up their final campaign at the Meadowlands, are slated to spend the next two seasons playing at the Rock in Newark while the Brooklyn arena is being built. And though there have been whispers that the team could stay in New Jersey beyond that time frame if the Barclays Center is not completed, Ratner emphatically said there was "no possibility" of that happening.

"Once construction starts, which is now, the timetable holds," he said.

NoLandGrab: That's Bruce, always sticking to the timetable.

Bergen Record, Editorial, The Record: Forget Nets, go Grizzlies?

On Thursday, the earth moved in Brooklyn. The tremors could be felt in Newark and the Meadowlands. The Nets are closer to leaving New Jersey.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the long-delayed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn was more than symbolic. After years of delay, the massive development, which if built as proposed will include a sports arena, housing, retail and commercial office space, is closer to reality. It will no longer be the architectural destination that might have been if Frank Gehry's vision for the development had survived the financial setbacks and a recession. But it matters little to us in New Jersey if Brooklyn is committed to mediocre architecture. What matters is not that the Nets are leaving New Jersey, but rather whether a new NBA team may come to New Jersey.

WCBS 880 via NewJerseyNewsroom.com, Chris Christie on N.J.’s budget crisis, bringing an NBA team to Newark

PAT CARROLL: Any thoughts about the ground being broken today for the New Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the new home the Nets?

GOVERNOR CHRISTIE: Well listen, you know that the Nets for the next two years, because of a deal that we made in our administration will be moving to the Prudential Center in Newark. And listen I am still continue to be hopeful, that the Nets might stay in New Jersey, but even if they don't I think we now have a facility at the Prudential Center that will be showcased for other NBA teams for the next two years. And I think there might be some other NBA teams that might want to come to New Jersey and play in a beautiful place like the Prudential Center, so we're going to keep all of our options open to continue to have NBA basketball in New Jersey.

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

March 10, 2010

Jason Kidd: Nets will turn it around

Bergen Record
by Al Iannazzone

Ex-New Jersey Net Jason Kidd believes that when the cloud that's been hanging over the team for the past six years — aka Bruce C. Ratner — finally lifts, they might not be so bad.

With Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov set to take ownership and team president Rod Thorn expected to stay, Kidd believes things can change for the better pretty quickly.

"It's something that they'll do right," Kidd said during a phone interview. "They'll get it turned back around at some point. It's just a matter of time.

"Rod and the new owner will definitely get it back on track."

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Posted by eric at 10:16 AM

March 9, 2010

To move tickets (at significant but non-bargain discounts), Nets and partners resort to extreme whimsy and euphemism

Atlantic Yards Report

The web-based Groupon business, which offers discounts if a minimum number of people make a purchase, is now offering Nets tickets with a face value of $100 for $39--not much of a bargain.

And the text of the offer not only mistakes the Falcons for a basketball team, it resorts to extreme whimsy ("impressive demonstrations of talent" include "drinking from Gatorade cups") and euphemism (the team, threatening to set a record for losses, is "a few games out of first place").
...

But is Groupon--often the source of genuine bargains--as good in this case as StubHub?

Well, for the March 16 game against Atlanta, StubHub offers tickets in sections 104 and 118 for $10.

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NoLandGrab: $39 for one ticket? You can take a whole family of protestors to a Nets game for little more than that.

Posted by eric at 2:22 PM

March 6, 2010

NJ Nets officially announce their move to Newark

AP via USA Today, NJ Nets officially announce their move to Newark

Even though it's officially only for two seasons, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is hopeful that the NBA has found a permanent home in Newark.

"We're officially an NBA city now," Booker said Friday at the announcement that the New Jersey Nets will move to the Prudential Center beginning next season. "I don't care about Brooklyn or the Meadowlands. The Nets are Newark's team and we're taking full ownership of the Nets. Hopefully, we can prove a point that this city was made for basketball."

The Nets, New Jersey Devils hockey team and the city of Newark reached an agreement that will allow the Nets to play in Newark for the next two seasons -- or as long as it takes for the franchise to build the proposed Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Other Coverage:

The New York Times, Nets Laud Future Newark Home as a Bridge to Brooklyn

Posted by steve at 6:35 AM

March 4, 2010

Great Fun With the Guessing Game

The New York Times
by Howard Beck

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers routed the Nets (no surprise) last night at the IZOD Center.

In the stands, there were more Cavaliers jerseys — from every era of their existence — than Nets jerseys. James got the loudest cheers during pregame introductions, but that was relative to the meager cheers for the Nets. There weren’t enough people in the building at tip-off to actually roar for anyone.
...

It was hard to see what might lure James, the reigning most valuable player, to the Jersey swamp. The thousands of empty mauve seats? The incomplete ski jump in the parking lot? The sign above the viaduct that boasts North New Jersey as the “Embroidery Capital of the World?”

(Then again, the Nets will have a new home by the time James goes team shopping. They are planning a move to Newark for next season and then to Brooklyn in 2012.)

There is no question that James is at least considering the Knicks and that he has given a passing thought to the Nets.
...

In their latest promotion, the Nets gave some ticket-buyers a reversible jersey — with James’s name on one side and Jarvis Hayes’s on the other. It may be as close as James gets to a Nets uniform.

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Posted by eric at 3:17 PM

March 3, 2010

The Nets will do anything for you to come to their games

Ball Don't Lie
by Trey Kerby

The New Jersey Nets are struggling. They have the league's worst record at 6-53. Because of that, they're last in attendance.

To combat this they've tried a few bizarre promotions over the years. First, they gave away tickets to unemployed workers, and also gave them career advice. Then, if you bought a 10-game ticket plan you got a jersey that featured not just a Net, but also an opposing player.

This Friday, the Nets will unleash another in their long line of minor league-esque promos....

link

Posted by eric at 1:54 PM

March 2, 2010

Nets Will Offer Free Tax Preparation as a Game Promotion

The New York Times
by Ken Belson

With just six victories this season, the Nets are threatening to compile the worst record in N.B.A. history. But Nets executives are still trying to persuade fans to attend the team’s last 12 home games.

Their latest promotion will be unveiled Friday, when the Nets play the Orlando Magic. New Jersey residents 18 or older who attend the game will get a coupon that they can redeem at a Roni Deutch Tax Center to get their state income tax done free.

Representatives of Roni Deutch Tax Centers — there are nine in the New York area — will be at the game to answer tax-related questions.

Alas, the Nets will not be paying their fans’ tax bills, and a similar coupon can be downloaded from Roni Deutch’s Web site. Deutch charges $29 to prepare a state income tax return and $185 for a federal return.

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NoLandGrab: Maybe it's us, but articles this puffy make us think the "partnership" between Bruce Ratner and The New York Times extends well beyond the construction of the newspaper's headquarters building. Case in point — this story carried the headline "Deathly Nets Seek Lift From Another Sure Thing: Taxes" in the print edition. Did someone request a less pejorative headline for the web version*?

* A reader suggests that the headline change could have more to do with the searchable nature of the internet, and that more-creative print headlines are often made more straightforward on the web. You be the judge. We should point out that The Times, when writing about the Nets, never alerts readers that the team's principal owner and the CEO of the company that built its headquarters building are one and the same.

Posted by eric at 10:49 AM

In the print Times, no coverage of the AY condemnation case, but ink for a Nets promotion of questionable value

Atlantic Yards Report

I wasn't surprised to see the New York Times's coverage of Supreme Court Justice Abraham Gerges's decision in the Atlantic Yards condemnation case relegated to online coverage only.

While I can disagree with editorial judgment--after all, in print today is coverage of a delayed Metropolitan Transportation Authority reality show--that's part of a pattern; the Times frequently publishes AY and other metro stories online only (and, with the former, often without disclosure of the New York Times Company's ties to Forest City Ratner).

In the Sports section

But I was surprised to open the Sports section and see this article:

The Nets are offering a coupon that can be redeemed at a Roni Deutch Tax Center to get a state income tax return done free. That's a $29 value but, actually, nothing special, since, as the article states, a similar coupon can be downloaded from Roni Deutch’s web site.

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NoLandGrab: It would be one thing if The Times covered the Nets with a sense of irony, but that is clearly not the case.

Posted by eric at 10:40 AM

February 21, 2010

Move To Newark Will Not Work

Bleacher Report
By Leslie Monteiro

This skeptical post includes a somewhat over-the-top history of Bruce Ratner's ownership of the New Jersey Nets. Even on their worst nights, the Nets draw more than 500 fans to the Meadowlands.

Ratner talked about moving the team to Brooklyn when he considered buying the team. When the league approved his purchase of the team, the marriage ended between the Nets and the few fans in Jersey.

Under Ratner's stewardship, fans stopped going the games altogether along with watching it on television. It looked like the franchise was drawing only 500 fans at best even though paid attendance indicated they drew 1,000.

Ratner lost money obviously so traded his best players. He sold his team to Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov few months ago once he realized it's hard to run a NBA franchise.

Posted by steve at 8:25 AM

February 20, 2010

New Jersey Nets earn 50th loss for the season, falling to the Toronto Rapters, 106-89

Daily News
By Julian Garcia

Bruce Ratner is sighted attending a Nets game.

Atlantic Yards project aside, Bruce Ratner must feel pretty good about selling the Nets after what he witnessed Friday night.

With Ratner sitting courtside for one of the few times this season, and perhaps one of the last, the Nets turned in a woeful first-half performance against the Raptors - falling behind by 20 points even though Chris Bosh was in Canada - and lost, 106-89, in front of 11,994 at the Meadowlands.

Ratner, whose sale of the team to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is expected to be approved by the league sometime next month, witnessed the Nets fall to 5-50, New Jersey staying on pace to win just eight games, which would break the all-time mark for fewest victories in one season. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers set the record, finishing 9-73.

link

NoLandGrab: Ratner is also on track to set a record for "Most taxpayer funds spent on a public project without public benefit" should the proposed Atlantic Yards project be built.

Posted by steve at 10:48 AM

Nets To Move To Newark

Here is some more coverage of the New Jersey Nets' move to Newark, ostensibly as a layover should they get to move to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklynites Ponder Meaning Of Nets’ Move to Newark

MicroThinker.jpg

Brooklyn residents and officials at press time on Friday were still exploring the meaning of the New Jersey Nets’ recent announcement that are going to play in Newark, at least for the next two seasons, and its ramifications for the Barclays Arena plan in Downtown Brooklyn.

The NBA team reached a deal with the state to move their regular-season games to Newark’s Prudential Center until their new arena is built at the Atlantic Yards Site.

Atlantic Yards Report, Daily Eagle: Brooklynites "still exploring" the meaning of the Nets' move to Newark?

A Brooklyn Eagle tweak on an AP story regarding the New Jersey Nets' planned move to Newark comes off as unintentionally silly, given the headline Brooklynites Ponder Meaning Of Nets’ Move to Newark: What Will It Mean for Atlantic Yards?.

You see, Beth DeFalco's AP story is pretty much the same as the one that went out on the national wire, only with a new lead paragraph:

...

Could it be that "still exploring" means that Borough President Marty Markowitz didn't call them back?

Here's one example of pondering that could've made the Eagle's deadline: the Real Deal's report that the two-year lease in Newark has a two-year renewable option--just in case the AY arena gets delayed further, as has been the pattern--deserves widespread notice.

Gothamist, Nets Are Headed To Newark's Prudential Center

The New Jersey Nets will no longer have to lose to home crowds at the Meadowlands' Izod Center: The team has made a deal to move to the Prudential Center in Newark for two years. The Star-Ledger reports, "After months of wrangling, a deal was struck Thursday to allow the Nets to buy their way out of their lease at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands... The Nets will pay $4 million to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — which could be offset in part by advertising, suite revenues and other credits."

Of course, the Nets are waiting to move to downtown Brooklyn—or so they say—to the long-promised arena at the Atlantic Yards, whose development had been on hold until an Appeals Courts swept away developer Bruce Ratner's eminent domain worries.

...

The Star-Ledger says the Nets could be playing in Newark as early as this spring. Legend has it that the Brooklyn arena will open in 2012.

Field of Schemes, Nets officially headed to Newark for next two seasons

This almost slipped past me, since it's only been reported at the bottom of NBA trade deadline pieces, but the New Jersey Nets finally got approval to move from the Meadowlands to Newark for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. The Nets will pay the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority $4 million to break their old lease; no immediate word on whether Newark's Prudential Center will still send concerts to the Meadowlands in exchange (though the two arenas did apparently agree to a "non-disparagement clause" to stop either side from publicly dissing the other), or how that whole ticket tax imbroglio worked out.

The long-term plan is for the Nets to be in Brooklyn starting in 2013, though work is still moving slowly at the planned Brooklyn arena site — there have been some street closings and a crane or two are on-site, but the private properties the state had said it would seize by eminent domain this winter are still waiting for the marshals to arrive. And they have their chains ready.

Posted by steve at 9:55 AM

February 19, 2010

Brett Yormark Statement on the Nets' Relocation to Newark

NBA.com

Nets Sports and Entertainment President & CEO Brett Yormark wants to make it very clear that the interim move to Newark — which he many times said was of no interest to the team — is purely temporary.

Brett Yormark, the Nets President and CEO, released the following statement regarding the Nets' upcoming interim relocation to Newark's Prudential Center, which will begin with the upcoming 2010-11 NBA season. This precedes the team's permanent move to Brooklyn, planned for 2012.

"Our planned interim relocation to the Prudential Center in Newark represents one of the many positive steps to take place for Nets Basketball during the next few months. This temporary move not only gives our fans a state-of-the-art arena with the first-class amenities common in most NBA buildings, but also provides our players with a great atmosphere in which to play.

"Additionally, before we make our permanent move to Brooklyn, this interim relocation to Newark enables us to continue our goal to further regionalize the team, not only in Essex and Union Counties, but also in New York City due to the direct mass transit access available between Manhattan and the Prudential Center. We are confident that the NBA family will see this as a positive move, as we do. We look forward to being part of the community in Newark and will continue our extensive community outreach in the area.

"I would like to sincerely thank Governor Christie for his support and leadership in making our interim relocation to the Prudential Center a reality. I would also like to express my appreciation to Mayor Booker and Jeff Vanderbeek for their steadfast efforts throughout this process."

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NoLandGrab: Frankly, we're a bit surprised that Yormark didn't temporarily issue an interim statement about the move prior to making his permanent statement.

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

February 18, 2010

Brooklyn 2012--or 2014? Nets sign two-year lease for Prudential Center in Newark, with option to renew

Atlantic Yards Report

The timetable for the Nets' planned--although not finalized--move to Brooklyn has most recently been stated as the 2012-13 season, and a long-rumored new lease in Newark anticipates that timetable as well.

However, given the history of delays, and the potential for additional snags, the new lease offers two more years in Newark.
...

Shifting the goalposts

Remember, the team was originally supposed to move in 2006; when the project was approved in 2006, the year became 2009. Nets CEO Brett Yormark moved the goalposts so often than in January 2009 I posted a remix of his statements.

As of last September, Bruce Ratner predicted the move would come in the "11-12 season."

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NoLandGrab: We all know Bruce Ratner is a man of his word, right?

Posted by eric at 9:53 PM

Nets team seals two-year Newark deal

The Real Deal
by David Jones

The New Jersey Nets have reached a long-anticipated deal to move to Newark's Prudential Center for the next two years , as the team plans for the Barclays Arena to open two years from now at the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker confirmed the deal following a special session of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority this morning and furious negotiations to finalize talks with the Prudential Center officials.

"It's extraordinarily exciting," Booker told The Real Deal in a telephone interview. "Not only will it bring economic opportunity, energy excitement to our downtown, for the Nets they are going to receive one of the most exciting fan bases they've had in years and years." Sources said the lease with the Prudential Center includes an option to automatically renew for another two years.

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NoLandGrab: What's that you say, an option for two additional years? That'd put the Nets in Brooklyn for the 2014-2015 season — one year before the entire project was alleged to have been completed, according to the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Posted by eric at 9:47 PM

NJ Nets will move to Prudential Center in Newark

The Star-Ledger

The Nets are making a fast break to Newark.

After months of speculation over whether the struggling NBA team would leave Izod Center in the Meadowlands for a two-year stay at the new Prudential Center in Newark, a deal was struck today to allow the Nets to break their lease for $4 million and move to Newark, according to officials involved in the negotiations.

The early termination fees could be offset in part by advertising, suite revenue and other credits.

The agreement came after the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority voted in secret to approve the deal at a special meeting this morning. A formal announcement is expected later today by Gov. Chris Christie.

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Posted by eric at 9:41 PM

February 15, 2010

If Rod Thorn aces Russian test Kiki Vandeweghe could be out

Bergen Record
by Al Iannazzone

Rod Thorn is in Dallas this weekend, and if everything goes well for him, he could be in Vancouver on Monday working out the details of a new contract.

The Nets president was scheduled to meet with owner-in-waiting Mikhail Prokhorov in the Lone Star State on Sunday, but there has been a change in plans, NBA and team sources said.

Thorn now will meet with some of Prokhorov's business associates in Dallas, the site of All-Star weekend. Nets CEO Brett Yormark also will attend.

If the summit goes well, Thorn will fly to Vancouver to meet with Prokhorov and discuss his future and the future of the Nets.
...

If Thorn knows he's on solid ground, sources believe he could fire Vandeweghe some time after the Feb. 18 trade deadline. The Nets are 4-30 since Vandeweghe replaced Lawrence Frank as coach.

Also, Thorn is unhappy about a report involving an alleged side deal with ex-assistant coach Del Harris that made it seem Vandeweghe undermined his authority.

If Vandeweghe is fired, assistant coach John Loyer could become the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

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NoLandGrab: All we have to offer John Loyer is... "good luck."

More by-catch from the Nets...

Slippery When Nets, Random Tangents - New Name For Nets

I have three thoughts on the matter of the team name, all going in different directions. First, perhaps the Nets should name try to appeal to the major opponents of the Brooklyn move - hipsters.

NLG: Hipsters?

Courtside Post, The Brooklyn Nets...by way of Newark

According to the source, the Nets and Devils reached a new agreement last week and are expected to sign it this week. It should reach Gov. Chris Christie’s desk soon after and it is expected to be approved.

Reuters via The New York Times, James as a Knick Won’t Help MSG

Forget the cash on MSG’s books — it will be chewed up in an estimated $800 million renovation of the Garden — and that equates to $21 a share.

That price overlooks fresh competition and potential corporate governance costs. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the New Jersey Nets are expected to play, is to open in 2012.

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

February 14, 2010

Nothin' but Nyets, Nothin' but Post

NY Post, Krzyzewski: Saying nyet to New Jersey 'would be easy'

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski essentially rebuffed the Nets' interest yesterday before ever hearing what the team and incoming Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov might have to offer.

"The guy's Russian, right? You think he'd hire a Polish guy?" Krzyzewski, clearly the Nets' leading choice for head coach next season, said jokingly to reporters in Durham, N.C. yesterday after Duke manhandled Maryland, 77-56. "No one's contacted me and if they do, I think 'nyet' would be easy for me to say."

Lots of people joke about the Nets these days. Hey, they're 4-48.

NY Post, Prokhorov's learning curve

Authorities never pressed charges against Russian billionaire and new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov after arresting him in 2007 on suspicion of hiring high-class call girls to entertain his guests in the Swiss Alps. But now, Prokhorov himself admits that he has some experience in the flesh trade. "I had sex for money once. I was young, hotblooded, curious. The representative of the ancient profession was brilliant and read Nietzsche in the original," he recently told the magazine he owns, the Russian Pioneer. "And she gave advice on how to be successful in life: 'Keep your back straight and don't fuss.' I have learned not to fuss, but I am still working hard on the spine. There's still time." The 6-foot-8 bachelor skipped the NBA All-Star Game and its surrounding hoopla in Dallas, as the 4-48 Nets limp toward the worst record in the league's history. Prokhorov was in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics.

NoLandGrab: Prokhorov was allegedly going to meet with Nets' President Rod Thorn while attending the NBA All-Star game, but according to the Post, "Prokhorov's planned trip to Dallas to meet with Thorn was called off because of travel difficulties and to avoid the overwhelming throng of NBA media for All-Star weekend." They just realized there was going to be press?

NY Post, Prokhorov's next moves remain a mystery

You have got to be extremely wary of sources claiming they're privy to the preferences of Mikhail Prokhorov about anything or anyone. Come on, other than commissioner David Stern, who in this country would the Russian tycoon trust enough to seek counsel or share confidences concerning the right people to facelift the Nets' image once approved as controlling owner by the NBA's Board of Governors?

Posted by eric at 11:28 PM

Latest on NBA NETS to Brooklyn

BrooklynTrolleyBlogger, Breukelen Station

This blog entry closely parallels the ESDC's policy of building a Nets arena at any cost.

As far as I can tell, Russian billionare Mikhail Prokhorov is still on course to purchase the Nets from Bruce Ratner. That is something I'm very much in favor of.

There seems to be a little more buzz and activity over at Atlantic Yards these days. Brett Yormark, Nets CEO has said recently on sports radio, the plan is to be playing in Brooklyn by the 2011-2012 season. I myself find that unlikely. If they could start by 2012-2013 I'll be happy. He also said something I find interesting which is he has no problems moving in mid-season. Basically he said the moment the move can happen is the right moment to transition over to Brooklyn, regardless of what point of the season thay may be. He even agreed with a scenario where the regular season could be played in N.J. and the playoffs in Brooklyn, should they advance. Mr. Yormark reitterated anytime will be the right time.

I like what I'm hearing.
The fact they are a 4 win team in mid-February doesn't concern me right now.
I just want them here.

link

NoLandGrab: This is urban planning of the "I want what I want when I want it" school.

Posted by steve at 8:32 AM

February 11, 2010

Thorn to reveal game plan

Bergen Record
by Al Iannazone

Nets president Rod Thorn will meet impending owner Mikhail Prokhorov in Dallas this weekend.
...

Prokhorov won't take over until the NBA Board of Governors approves the sale from Bruce Ratner early next month, and contingencies regarding the Brooklyn arena site are met. The latter is expected by early April.

But Prokhorov would want a plan in place and people in position to execute it, which includes hiring a new head coach, preparing for an important draft and the NBA's biggest free agent class ever.

link

More Nets coverage...

NetsAreScorching, THOUGHTS ON THE GAME: NETS ARE COOKED IN AN INSTANT

What I found most insulting was how Kiki finally called on CDR to play the game’s final three minutes in garbage time. Unless we read from one of the beat writers tomorrow that CDR missed his bus or threw a snowball at Bruce Ratner before the game yesterday, I just don’t understand how a guy could go from 15-point scorer in the starting lineup, to the 12th man treatment, in the span of a few weeks.

NoLandGrab: If Chris Douglas-Roberts threw a snowball at Boss Ratner, we'll give him a starting job — and his own log-in.

Huffington Post, Nets Attendance: Barely 1,000 Turn Out To See Team Lose Again

It was a sad sight in a sorry season.

In front of about 1,000 fans, the New Jersey Nets lost for the 48th time before the All-Star break, trounced 97-77 by the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
...

Despite the paltry turnout, the paid attendance for the game was 12,873.

NLG: They mean "paid" attendance. Wink. Wink.

Posted by eric at 9:07 PM

February 10, 2010

Coach For The Day!

Zappos.com

Nets' sponsor Zappos is looking for a coach for a day — which, at the rate the Nets are losing, could turn into a longer gig. How about owner for the day?

Have you always wanted to be a Head Coach and call the shots? Well, here's your chance! One lucky winner and their guest will be brisked off to New Jersey to spend the day with the Nets. You'll get to hang out at the team's practice facility during the day, get full VIP access at the arena during that night's game and get the chance to rub elbows with Head Coach Kiki Vandeweghe!

Entry form

NoLandGrab: "Brisked?"

Posted by eric at 10:36 PM

Nets Go Cold in the Snow

NetsDaily

Apparently, about 1,000 people were trapped tonight by the severe winter weather inside the Izod Center.

Rinse, wash and repeat. Wednesday’s game at the Izod Center was close for the first 2 1/2 quarters and the Nets led by one midway through the third, but an 18-1 Milwaukee run spanning the third and fourth decided the game. So the Nets head into the All-Star break with just four wins and an eight-game losing streak. The good news is that only about a thousand people were forced to watch this one in person.

link

Posted by eric at 10:25 PM

February 4, 2010

Who Will Own The Bobcats?

ESPN.com
by J.A. Adande

Has Bruce Ratner screwed other NBA owners, or has the pro sports bubble screwed Bruce Ratner?

But an NBA source said [Michael] Jordan is not inclined to make a bid for the franchise that matches the number owner Bob Johnson has in mind. It is believed that a group led by Houston investor George Postolos, the former president of the Rockets, has made a higher offer. One source familiar with the negotiations read Johnson's backing away from the sale to Postolos last summer and the continued extension of the process as a desire to give Jordan another opportunity to put together a stronger offer. But with league owners already skittish about the perceived low-price sale of the New Jersey Nets by Bruce Ratner to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov dragging down franchise values there will be pressure on Johnson to go for the higher bid and not let his relationship with Jordan outweigh the prospect of more cash.

link

Posted by eric at 9:31 AM

February 3, 2010

Del Harris opting out; leaves NJ Nets after two months as assistant coach

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

Nets assistant coach Del Harris has seen enough — after less than two months. Can you blame him?

Del Harris, one of the game’s seminal thinkers, has decided to leave the team before the road trip that opens Wednesday in Toronto, according to a friend of the coach.

Harris, who was brought in to be Vandeweghe’s gray eminence on Dec. 4 after the latter moved into the head coaching position, has several reasons for making his exit now – all of them professional issues – but these should not be disclosed by anyone but Harris himself, his friend said.

Vandeweghe, meanwhile, was hoping he could talk the 72-year-old Harris out of leaving right up until game time, but the coach’s confidant said there was little chance of that happening.

link

NoLandGrab: With the entirety of Vandeweghe's head coaching experience coming in the two months that he's been trying to coach the Nets, the high-water mark of the team's season may have already passed.

Posted by eric at 11:04 AM

February 2, 2010

Hot air engulfs Nets' next move

New York Post
by Peter Vecsey

The Post reports that the Nets will sign an interim Newark lease this week.

In the riptide created by the hypothesis New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may try to wring $7.5 million from the Nets for approval to relocate after this season from the Izod Center to the Prudential Center, owner Bruce Ratner's master plan remains unaltered.

Later this week, the Nets will sign a lease with the Devils -- owners of Newark's Prudential Center -- that will permit them to exit gracefully when their Brooklyn arena is completed; its target date is early 2012. That term sheet will be forwarded to Christie in hopes of gaining a waiver, something defeated governor Jon S. Corzine had been prepared to do.

By "early 2012," Vecsey means "hopefully in time to start the 2012-2013 season."

What happens if the Nets are denied permission? Guess it depends on what's more principal -- the fantasy "extortion" number vs. the losses they figure to encumber by remaining swamp-bound another 1½-to-2 seasons -- or principle.

Stay tuned, we may have a contemporary Jersey politics mantra: Pay to Play . . . Poorly.

link

More fantasy basketball...

Bleacher Report, Lebron James to Nets is Possible

Looking at the Nets' record (4-42), some would say that the addition of LeBron James via free agency is a mere impossibility. But not me.

I am willing to make the very bold statement that LeBron James could very possibly be a Net in 2010.

You're probably thinking to yourself: "How could that be possible?" Well, a few things would have to happen.

NoLandGrab: Like pigs flying, the Nets running off a 36-game winning streak to end the season, and savvy-seeming LBJ losing his mind.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

February 1, 2010

Prokhorov Meeting with Thorn, Yormark at All-Star Break

NetsDaily

The all-Nets-all-the-time blog rounds up recent media reports on Mikhail Prokhorov's pending purchase of the team from the worst owner in NBA history.

Beat writers have been tracking the progress of the Nets sale and although there’s nothing definitive on when the NBA Board of Governors will approve Mikhail Prokhorov as owner–or whether that’s the final step to put him in charge, it looks like the first planning meetings on the team’s future will take place during All-Star Weekend, Feb 12-14. Rod Thorn and Brett Yormark will participate. The two first met Prokhrov in October. Among the issues: whether Thorn will continue as president of basketball operations.

link

Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

January 30, 2010

The Antidote to Brooklyn Nets Fever

New York Magazine

Remember this when and if some sort of super-Nets team featuring John Wall and Amar'e Stoudemire tries to drape itself with borough pride when it moves to Brooklyn in 2012: Part of the process of getting the Barclays Center built involved seizing the building that housed the Pacific Dean Homeless Shelter and evicting its 80 families, in the middle of winter, on Martin Luther King Day.

link

Posted by steve at 7:20 AM

Kevin Durant: What the Young All-Star Can Teach LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

Bleacher Report
By Robert Kleeman

This sports story includes speculation about LeBron James, and asks an interesting question spawned by too-credulous coverage of the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

Will James bolt from his home state to become the savior for a desperate Donnie Walsh and his still-loser franchise in New York?

How about New Jersey, where the Nets are on the way to the worst record in NBA history? Never mind that ownership still has yet to break ground on that spectacular new arena in Brooklyn.

How many times has Bruce Ratner been close to "clearing the last hurdle?"

link

Posted by steve at 7:12 AM

Nets Reaching Out

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle catches up with the New York Times's coverage of a promotional event by the New Jersey Nets.

The New Jersey (soon-to-be-Brooklyn) Nets sent a pair of ambassadors and team mascot Sly to cheer up pediatric patients at The Brooklyn Hospital Center on Tuesday.

Second-year guard Chris Douglas-Roberts and rookie Terrence Williams read Curious George Goes to School before signing autographs, posing for pictures and handing out toys provided by EmblemHealth and the Nets.

link

Posted by steve at 7:00 AM

January 28, 2010

A Marketing Quandary: How Do You Sell a 4-40 Team?

City Room
by A.G. Sulzberger

Hey, why send a reporter to read through boring Master Closing documents (which might reveal embarrassing information about your development partner's Brooklyn land grab) when you could be doing a puff piece about "Team Hype" instead?

The outreach reflects the Nets’ effort to build brand loyalty – “seeding” the fan base, in the words of the team’s chief executive, Brett Yormark — in Brooklyn, in anticipation of a long planned move to a proposed arena at Atlantic Yards. But because the move is not expected to take place for at least another full season and still faces a number of hurdles, the team has also been trying to maintain the loyalty of those New Jersey fans who are actually buying tickets.

Actually, the move will not take place for at least another two years — if ever.

This dual marketing effort would be tricky in the best of circumstances. In light of the team’s record, Mr. Yormark said the strategy had been to “sell fun, not wins” to the fans in New Jersey and “to sell hope, to sell the going-forward story” to the fans in Brooklyn.
...

In some ways the children at the Brooklyn Hospital Center were the perfect audience for athletes who had no interest in talking about the 33-point loss a few nights earlier — the team’s 11th straight defeat.

Many of the youngest were fixated on the furry mascot accompanying the athletes, Sly the Silver Fox. One boy had to keep being reminded that the men played basketball, not baseball. And others simply watched the scene unfold with the morose look common to any medical waiting room.

Sly Fox does have broad appeal, as the photo would indicate (click to enlarge).

Even the adults who recognized the players mostly offered their critiques out of earshot. One hospital employee posed for a photo with the two then retreated to the other side of the room to admit that he stopped watching the team, adding, “I don’t know what their problem is.” A doctor, while praising the young talent, called the season “embarrassing.”

article

Posted by eric at 2:24 PM

January 27, 2010

NBA's Worst Team Ever

Yahoo! Sports

Yahoo! Sports basketball analyst, and former NBA star, Kenny Smith says, yes, indeed, the 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets are the worst team ever to take to the hardcourt in the National Basketball Association.

Which would, in turn, make Bruce Ratner the worst owner in NBA history — in addition to being a land-grabbing, subsidy-grubbing, miserable human being.

link

NoLandGrab: Who says they have no pride? The NBA's worst team ever went out and thumped the Clippers 103-87, ending their 11-game losing streak and running their record to 4-40.

Posted by eric at 10:04 PM

January 26, 2010

Nets Could Face $7.5 Million Fine if They Move to Newark

The New York Times
by Ken Belson

New New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be looking for soon-to-be-new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov to fork over some rubles.

New Jersey’s new governor, Christopher J. Christie, wants the Nets to pay a $7.5 million penalty if the team breaks its lease at the Izod Center and moves to the Prudential Center in Newark next season.

The suggestion was included in a 20-page document issued by the New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment Committee of the governor’s transition team. The report, compiled before the governor took office last Tuesday, focuses largely on the state’s casinos and horse racing, both of which, the committee said, were “broken.”

The report identified agreements made during previous administrations that the Christie Administration hopes to revise or undo. One is a plan created last year to allow the Nets to break their lease at the Izod Center two years early and move to the Prudential Center until their new arena in Brooklyn opens.

article

NoLandGrab: No doubt, Bruce Ratner and his cronies are working on a plan by which New York State and New York City taxpayers would cough up the $7.5 million payment.

Posted by eric at 12:48 PM

January 25, 2010

NBA Approval of Prokhorov “Days Away”

NetsDaily

The NBA Board of Governors is “days away” from approving Mikhail Prokhorov as the Nets’ new owner, according to reports. There’s also confirmation of a month-old report that the Russian billionaire has agreed to throw another $100 million into Barclays Center.
...

Now, there’s word from inside the franchise that Prokhorov has indeed committed to buying more than two-thirds of the infrastructure bonds–$100 million worth. The remainder will reportedly be marketed by Forest City Enterprises, the Cleveland-based company that is currently the team’s biggest shareholder at 23%. FCE is controlled by Bruce Ratner’s extended family.

The manner in which the debt is structured will also give Prokhorov effective control over the arena and in fact could give him actual control in one (unlikely) circumstance.

As Project Finance wrote in December, “If Prokhorov buys the subordinated [infrastructure] bonds, which are serviced through lower quality and more uncertain cashflows, and the project experiences a sustained period of weak financial performance, then in the event of a default on the subdebt, he would take control of the project.”

Critics have noted the consequences of such a default. Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report wrote, “The upshot, though, is that the enormous state effort to get the project going–the Blight Study, the use of eminent domain, the tax-exempt bonds, etc.–could turn out to provide the most significant benefits to Russia’s richest man.”

article

Posted by eric at 9:08 AM

January 24, 2010

The Nets hit a new low, potential free agents become more wary, and Prokhorov is still seen as a savior

Atlantic Yards Report

With a blowout loss last night, the Nets are 3-40 and on track--despite claims to the contrary in the New York Times--to surpass the Philadelphia 76ers of 1972-73, who went 9-73.

From sports columnist Mike Lupica in today's New York Daily News:

You have to say that only the people having a worse winter than Martha Coakley, Senate loser in Massachusetts, are the Nets.

From Mark Ginocchio in the Nets Are Scorching blog:

As it stands, and I hesitate to say it, but THIS might finally be rock bottom for the 2009-10 Nets. Because if it gets any worse that it’s been the past two games against Utah and the Golden State Warriors, the league should really consider contracting the organization, throwing Bruce Ratner in jail for fraud and blacklisting Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe from ever having a role with an NBA roster again. Because while the Nets may technically be an NBA team, they’ve lost their last two games by a combined 65 points, allowing 113.5 points and only scoring 81.

link

NoLandGrab: It's clear watching a Nets' game these days that they aren't even trying to win, which means they have the same chance of signing LeBron James this summers as Bruce Ratner does of completing the Atlantic Yards buildout in 10 years — none.

One more thing: heckuva job, Brucie.

Posted by eric at 5:52 PM

January 22, 2010

Unloading Pistons might be tough sale for Karen Davidson

The Detroit News
by Terry Foster

An article about the potential market for the Detroit Pistons cites the New Jersey Nets as a benchmark.

According to Forbes, Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley saw the value of his team decline 13 percent to $257 million. Bobcats owner Bob Johnson has debts of $160 million and his team is worth $22 million less than the $300 million he paid for it six years ago.

It's even worse in New Jersey. Nets owner Bruce Ratner announced he was moving the team to Brooklyn after buying the team in 2004. That has yet to materialize, and the team now is giving away tickets. The value of the team has declined by $31 million and is expected to be sold to a Russian businessman.

article

NoLandGrab: The reporter obviously didn't talk with Nets Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark, who would've told him that things couldn't be better in New Jersey [wink].

Posted by eric at 11:24 AM

January 20, 2010

The Stuff We Could Teach Jack Bauer

The New York Times
by Clyde Haberman

With the new season of Fox's 24 set in NYC, the Times columnist suggests that fictional agent Jack Bauer could employ some novel, possibly more effective means of breaking the bad guys.

We need new techniques — New York techniques. Sit a terror suspect next to a subway rider whose iPod is turned up so high that it produces a maddening buzz. Or make him watch the repulsive health department commercials that show soda turning into globs of fat. Better yet, force him to watch the Knicks play the Nets. That’ll get him to talk.

Do such tactics amount to torture? Ask any New Yorker who has endured them.

link

NoLandGrab: The Knicks are just innocent bystanders.

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

January 18, 2010

Nets Seem Unlikely Threat to 1972-73 Sixers’ Loss Record

The New York Times
by Howard Beck

The Times promotes the myth that the New Jersey Nets, owned by the developer of their headquarters building, Bruce C. Ratner, are not as bad as their 3-36 record — and fails to include Ratner among those hanging the team out to dry.

In 1972-73, [Fred "Mad Dog"] Carter was the leading scorer for the fantastically awful Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged 20 points, his best season to that point. The 76ers went 9-73, which stands as the worst record in N.B.A. history.

The mark is in mortal danger. The Nets — a hapless team trapped between eras, abandoned by fans and its own management — have won just three times in 39 games, for a sickly winning percentage of .077. They are on pace for six victories. They are threatening to steal Carter’s perverse sense of pride.
...

The Nets present an unlikely threat to the record books. They have an All-Star point guard, Devin Harris, and a rising star at center, Brook Lopez. Their shooting guard, Courtney Lee, started in the finals last year for the Orlando Magic. No one around the N.B.A. thinks they should be this feeble.

Yet they are that feeble. Go figure.

article

Posted by eric at 9:36 PM

January 16, 2010

At the Nets game last night, a protest against Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

Apparently there was a little protest at the Nets-Pacers game last night at the Izod Center, as eight Atlantic Yards opponents unfurled a banner that read, "Ratner trashed the Nets so he could trash Brooklyn."

(Photo and set by Tracy Collins)

It made the lead of the New York Post's game coverage:

A group of eight protestors led by Daniel Goldstein, who has led the fight against the development of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, hoisted anti-Bruce Ratner banners last night that were confiscated by Meadowlands security.

The protestors stayed in their seats, no doubt wishing they were ejected.

Watching the Nets is almost inhumane punishment. What's a four-letter word for garbage? Junk? Nope. Slop? Not here.

Go with "N-E-T-S, Nets, Nets, Nets."

From the New York Daily News:

Neither did arena security guards, who confiscated a pair of protest banners that were being paraded through a lower section. The banners ripped Nets owner Bruce Ratner, who is moving the team to Brooklyn as the centerpiece of his Atlantic Yards project, and pleaded with Nets fans in New Jersey to pull for the team to remain in the Garden State.

Scott Turner, one of the protesters, said the group chanted "Jersey yes! Ratner no!" as it held the banners up late in the first quarter. As a security guard tried to take one of the banners away, he told Turner that if he didn't surrender it, "we will call the state police."

link

Related coverage...

The Star-Ledger, Shawne Williams indicted on drug charges hours after NJ Nets waive him
By Dave D'Alessandro

The Nets also had an unwanted guest Friday night: The formidable Daniel Goldstein, the last holdout among those living in the footprint of the Atlantic Yards project, brought a group of eight protesters to the game.

The Record, Pacers cruise past Nets, 121-105, at Meadowlands
By Al Iannazzone

Atlantic Yards opponent Daniel Goldstein and other Brooklyn protestors shouted and held up anti-Bruce Ratner banners as they walked down a section’s steps during the first quarter. But arena security personnel took away the signs because they obstructed the view of the fans.

Daily News, New Jersey Nets fall, 121-105, to Indiana Pacers, Shawne Williams arrested on drug-related charges

New York Post, Nets torment with 36th loss

NBA Fanhouse, Brooklyn Protesters Take the Fight to a Nets Game

Posted by steve at 10:34 AM

January 15, 2010

Nets may not be down for long

SportsIllustrated.com
By Chris Mannix

This excerpt below explains why the NBA wants the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov. The answer is "Money. Oodles of it."

Next summer, however, the class of 2010 will yield one of the deepest free-agent crops in history. And those players would be wise to put New Jersey at the top of their list.

Really.

While New Jersey is on pace to challenge the 1972-73 Sixers' record low of nine victories, its plight isn't nearly as bad as the numbers indicate. Because sometime in the next two months ownership of the team is expected to transfer from Bruce Ratner to Mikhail Prokhorov. And Prokhorov brings something to the table that the Nets haven't had in a long time.

Money. Oodles of it.

The Russian billionaire is widely considered the wealthiest man in his country, and since news of the pending sale became public, word quickly spread throughout the league that Prokhorov is in it to win it.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:24 AM

January 10, 2010

Dangerous Jocks on the Loose? Put Gilbert Arenas, Jayson Williams, and Plaxico Burress in the Same Room and ...

Runnin' Scared
by Ward Harkavy

Arenas keeps stoking the fires of his own destruction. A professional mocker, the Washington Wizard made fun of teammate Javaris Crittenton's weapon in their locker room (allegedly), and both drew down (allegedly). Then Arenas mocked his situation with a mock draw-down in a pregame huddle the other night. At least the basketball player's not likely to shoot anybody. Maybe.
...

And now, in the most foolish reaction to sports gunplay, the New Jersey Nets have banned gambling on their team plane, citing the Washington Wizards' card-play that ended up in gun-play.

If anything, the Nets, heading toward the worst record in NBA history, suffering with poor attendance and a beleaguered owner (Bruce Ratner), need more shooters. Like Arenas and Williams.

link

NoLandGrab: In no way do we want to minimize Gilbert Arenas' stupid and potentially lethal actions, but we feel compelled to point out that while his play-threatening of a teammate earned him an indefinite suspension from NBA commissioner David Stern, while the aforementioned Ratner's threatening of an entire neighborhood has earned him the league's unquestioned support.

Posted by eric at 7:30 PM

January 4, 2010

15 reasons why Brooklyn is New York City's borough to beat

NY Daily News
by Ben Chapman, Jake Pearson, Denise Romano AND Elizabeth Lazarowitz

Brooklyn's had a place in our hearts long before it was hip.

Sure, it's got rough spots, but that's part of its charm. And with a new decade dawning and big changes afoot, we think there's more than ever that makes Brooklyn the borough to beat.
...

Here are 15 big reasons we think Brooklyn rocks:
...

9. The borough's finally getting its very own basketball team. Okay, everybody isn't happy about that, but think of the T-shirt possibilities. With a population as big as Houston's (and bigger than Charlotte's), Brooklyn deserves it. And love 'em or hate 'em, the Nets' history-making losing streak means there's nowhere to go but up.

link

Posted by eric at 11:42 PM

January 3, 2010

Nets on the Net: 1/2/10 Edition

NetsAreScorching
by Mark Ginocchio

Apparently, feelings were hurt when a column criticizing eminent domain was published yesterday.

Political columnist George Will lashes out against the Atlantic Yards Development, and becomes the latest critic to needlessly mock the Nets basketball team when trying to put down Bruce Ratner: The Atlantic Yards nonsense was compounded when Ratner, to bolster his balance sheet after the real estate collapse, sold the Nets to a Russian billionaire, who stands to benefit from Ratner’s government-subsidized seizure of other people’s property. Those people can only hope that New York’s highest court will grant their appeal for reconsideration on the grounds that Ratner’s argument is about as good as the Nets are. Through Friday, their record was 3-29.

link

NoLandGrab: As of Saturday, the Nets are 3-30.

Posted by steve at 8:42 AM

December 30, 2009

A CASE TO STAY THE COURSE FOR THE NETS

NetsAreScorching
by Mark Ginocchio

It’s difficult to advocate staying the course when the ship is sinking, but for the New Jersey Nets, it may be their best option.
...

Of course, it’s possible that Kiki and company get slammed by the fan base and the media for doing nothing, and letting this season get further out of hand. There will be talk about all of the empty seats at the Izod Center, and how owner Bruce Ratner has put a lock on the team’s wallet until Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov presumably takes over. While there is some truth to these claims, it doesn’t change what the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets were all about headed into this season – riding out this storm with the promise of better times ahead.

link

NoLandGrab: Staying the course might be okay, if the Nets were planning to refund all the money season ticket holders have plunked down to watch what might be the worst team in NBA history. Which they're obviously not going to do.

Posted by eric at 9:38 PM

Grading the First 30: Nets

HoopsWorld
by Alex Raskin

The bodies are starting to pile up at the Izod Center. Coach Lawrence Frank was fired and replaced by general manager Kiki Vandeweghe and injuries to Devin Harris, Keyon Dooling, Jarvis Hayes, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi Jianlian, Bobby Simmons, Tony Battie, Courtney Lee and others have bogged the Nets down to a 2-29 record. Young star Brook Lopez has been frustrated by the significant attention from opposing defenses and rookie Terrence Williams tweeted a few too many times. But as the team is losing on the basketball court, owner Bruce Ratner has been winning in the legal court. One by one, the obstacles are falling and a move to Brooklyn looks as likely as ever… A move up in the Atlantic Division, however, is less likely.
...

Overall Grade: F — There is nothing in New Jersey that deserves a passing grade this season, but the franchise's overall health isn't nearly as bad. With the legal hurdles between East Rutherford and Brooklyn clearing up, tons of cap space and a new owner on his way, the Nets are a blank canvas with a growing roster of young talent… Of course, none of that is reflected by their on-court performance.

link

Also...

TSX — The Sports eXpress, Weekly NBA Rankings (12/28)

30. New Jersey Nets (2-28) If you want a blueprint on how to dismantle a team in six years, just ask Bruce Ratner. From Two-time Eastern Conference Champion to two wins in 30 games.

Posted by eric at 8:59 AM

December 24, 2009

Nets Keep Losing, Moving Closer to Brooklyn

NBC New York
by Josh Alper

If you ignore the fact that the Nets are a professional basketball team, things are going quite well for them.

Bruce Ratner, the team's owner, just signed documents to close on Atlantic Yards, the proceeds from the sale of tax-exempt bonds are in an escrow account waiting to be spent on construction and the state filed to raze the remaining holdout tenants under eminent domain.

The opponents of the deal will continue to fight, right down to chaining themselves to the bar at Freddy's, but things appear to be too far down the road now for their fight to result in victory. They can take some pride in inflicting much damage to Ratner's bank account, the financial value of the Nets and, as a direct result of those money hits, the quality of the basketball team.

It's not what they were looking to accomplish, of course, but they've essentially salted the earth under the Nets over the last few years. The team's standing as a real-estate play on a disputed piece of land turned them from a perennial playoff team to the biggest laughingstock in sports. They added another notch to their bedpost on Wednesday night by losing to the Timberwolves for the second time this season. The Wolves have just six wins overall, which should tell you just about everything you need to know about the way the Nets have held up through the legal battles.

article



Related coverage...

Bergen Record, Nets fall at home to another last-place team

With their latest loss, 103-99, Wednesday night at the Izod Center to the almost-as-awful Minnesota Timberwolves, the Nets moved ever closer to an avalanche of pingpong balls in next year’s lottery.
...

Though their last lead came in the first quarter, the Nets were in this one to the end. But that figured to be the case, considering this was one of the NBA’s worst matchups for this point in a season.

With the teams having a combined .123 winning percentage entering play, this game was on par with the Mavericks (5-27) versus Nuggets (2-28) in 1998, and last year’s meeting of the Thunder (3-27) and Wizards (4-23), according to Stats Inc.
...

At least in the organization’s view, it was already a good day before the team tipped off – with the announcement that three major agencies had closed on the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

“I think it’s important because it creates a great buzz around the team,” Vandeweghe said of the Nets’ potential move to Brooklyn.

NoLandGrab: If that's the result of a "great buzz," yeesh.

Posted by eric at 9:55 AM

Nets Closer to a Newark Layover

Off the Dribble [NY Times NBA Blog]
by Ken Belson

The Nets took one giant step toward moving to Brooklyn on Wednesday when the developer Bruce C. Ratner closed on his 22-acre Atlantic Yards project. But the Nets also inched closer to moving to Newark.

New Jersey’s economic czar, Jerry Zaro, has been working on a plan to have the Nets leave the Izod Center at the end of the season and play their remaining games in the state at the Prudential Center. The goal is to turn that arena in Newark into a sports-centric venue and to let the Izod Center host the bulk of concerts and other entertainment in the area.
...

Brett Yormark, the Nets’ chief executive, said he has had preliminary conversations with Christie’s transition team.

“Hopefully, they’ll come to an understanding,” he said. “The state knows our interest in moving to Newark, it’s well documented.”

link

NoLandGrab: Wha?! Well documented? Yormark told the Star-Ledger in May of 2008 that "sharing the Prudential Center with the Devils 'is of no interest to us.'"

Posted by eric at 12:27 AM

December 23, 2009

The Year That Wasn't: What Didn’t Happen in 2009

Gotham Gazette
By Gail Robinson

The Nets did not play in Brooklyn
This was the year the NBA New Jersey Nets were slated to make the move from the Meadowlands and open the 2009-2001 season in Brooklyn. The team, under the ownership of Bruce Ratner, would play in the edgy Frank Gehry-designed Barclay Center at Atlantic Yards.

The Nets still may move to Atlantic Yards. But not until 2012. And when that happens Bruce Ratner will not own the team. He sold it to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who anted up $200 million to essentially buy the team and perhaps save the beleaguered Atlantic Yards project in the process. In June, beset by an array of financial problems and legal challenges, Ratner scrapped Gehry's arena plans and brought in Ellerbe Becket, an architectural firm based in Kansas City. So instead of playing in an architectural landmark, the Nets will slam dunk (or try to) in an arena that one observer said "looks a lot like every other stadium we've ever seen."

Fans may not care. The Nets opened this season with a record of no wins and 18 losses, the worst start in NBA history, and have not improved much since.

aticle

NoLandGrab: Actually, the original plan was for the Nets to play in Brooklyn in 2006.

Posted by lumi at 5:15 AM

December 18, 2009

Newark Mayor Booker: deal to move Nets to Newark isn't dead

Atlantic Yards Report

Yesterday, I wrote that, while the deal to move the New Jersey Nets temporarily to Newark seemed to have fallen apart, these deals are negotiable.

Indeed, in an interview last night on WBGO's Newark Today with Cory Booker, the mayor said the deal is not dead and "the conversation is still going on... We still have a chance of creating settlement between the Izod Center and the Prudential Center to create greater revenue."

He suggested that the plan is getting snagged by the transition between the outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine and the incoming Gov. Chris Christie.

"When [Christie] sits down and looks at the facts, I think he's going to find a way to make a win-win happen," Booker said.

article

Posted by eric at 9:31 AM

December 16, 2009

Deal to move NJ Nets from Meadowlands to Newark's Prudential Center falls apart

The Star-Ledger
by Ted Sherman

Looks like the New Jersey Nets will be spending the next two-and-a-half years (or more) in the Izod Center.

A complex deal to bring the Nets to the state’s largest city has all but collapsed.

The temporary move by the team had been part of a wider plan intended to end a war for entertainment dollars between the Izod Center in the Meadowlands, operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, and the privately owned Prudential Center in Newark. The two sides have been battling for the same concert, show and entertainment bookings.

The agreement would have allowed the Nets to break their lease at the Izod Center, opening the door to a temporary move by the struggling NBA team to the more modern Prudential Center, which hopes to become a showcase for sporting events in New Jersey. The Nets would share the building with the Devils hockey team, until the team’s planned move to Brooklyn by 2012.

Most non-sporting events, such as the lucrative concerts and family shows now at the heart of a tug-of-war between the two arenas, would in turn be shifted primarily to the Izod Center, which would become an entertainment venue.

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Additional coverage...

Bergen Record, NJSEA won't waive Nets' penalty, its chairman says

“Theoretically, they could give us notice prior to Dec. 31 that they are not playing in our venue next year,” Goldberg said of the Izod Center. “But then they concurrently would have an obligation to tender a check to us for $7.5 million.

“I don’t see that there’s a possibility — given the holidays and everyone’s schedule — that there could be a thoughtful discussion [by board members] about waiving the penalty and allowing the Nets to play someplace else in 2010-11.”

In a statement, Brett Yormark, the Nets chief executive, did not address whether application of the penalty would erase any club interest in Newark.

“We continue to be encouraged about the prospect of making an interim move to the Prudential Center,” Yormark said. “Not only would this interim move be a positive for our New Jersey fans, but it would give future fans from Brooklyn and Manhattan the chance to get to know us now, given the access to mass transit near the arena.”

NoLandGrab: Could that be the same Brett Yormark who only a few months ago said the Nets had no interest in moving to Newark, even on an interim basis?

Posted by eric at 11:51 PM

December 11, 2009

Nets still on track for Brooklyn

NYPost.com
by Peter Vecsey

What in the good name of Sharpe James is going on here?

Seems a truce is in the works between New Jersey's two major sports arenas -- the Izod and Prudential centers -- in an effort to keep the Nets from exiting the Garden State.

The two venues would form a ven ture called Jersey Presents, with the Nets and Devils playing in Newark, and concerts, circuses, etc., playing exclusively in East Rutherford.

Sounds good except for one nitpickin' nuisance -- the Nets are Brooklyn-bound.

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NoLandGrab: Vecsey goes on to opine that the Nets' move to Brooklyn is a foregone conclusion, which it still ain't, of course, but one does have to wonder — what does New Jersey Devils owner and Prudential Center principal Jeff Vanderbeek know that we don't? He's trading concerts and family events for the Nets, which could be a short-term proposition — or maybe not?

Posted by eric at 3:56 PM

December 10, 2009

Not a slam dunk

Knicks lose most valuable NBA team title

NY Post
by Paul Tharp

Billionaires aren't getting the bang they once did from owning a basketball team -- particularly the Knicks and the Nets.

The Dolan family's pride got hit hard yesterday, as their beloved basketball team toppled from its long-held position as the NBA's most valuable and highest-grossing team, according to Forbes magazine's annual rankings.

Hey, at least they had a high place from which to tumble.

Across the Hudson River, Bruce Ratner's New Jersey Nets languished near the bottom of the rankings for the second year in a row.
...

Generally speaking, it wasn't a good year for team owners. The average value of an NBA team fell for the first time in 11 years of Forbes' rankings, sliding 4 percent to $367 million.

Forbes blamed the recession and high ticket prices -- averaging $50 a seat -- for declining sales and attendance. Twenty-one teams saw their values decrease since last year.

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Posted by eric at 11:50 AM

Possible Truce Between New Jersey Arenas Could Come at a Cost to Fans

The New York Times
by Ken Belson and David M. Halbfinger

New Jersey sports and music fans could soon have to pay a surcharge to see Devils and Nets games and concerts. A complex deal is being brokered to end a landlord-tenant dispute as well as a price war between the arenas at the Meadowlands and in Newark, according to multiple people involved in the negotiations.

The two arenas, the aging Izod Center at the Meadowlands and the Prudential Center in downtown Newark, have been undercutting each other to attract bands and other acts since the Prudential Center opened in 2007, state officials say.

But don't worry, prospective buyers of Brooklyn arena bonds — surely the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden wouldn't undercut each other to attract bands and other events. Those revenue projections (which overstate the potential number of events) are as rock-solid as all of Bruce Ratner's other promises.

To end the fight, Jerold L. Zaro, Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s economics czar, has brokered a deal to move the Nets to the Prudential Center, cementing the privately run building as the dominant indoor sports venue in New Jersey. It would in turn cede many of its nonsports events — rock concerts and family shows like the Ice Capades — to the Izod Center, which would become an entertainment hub.

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NoLandGrab: And what happens if the Nets really do move to Brooklyn? The Prudential Center is left holding the bag, a new deal with the Izod Center likely gets struck, and both arenas will discount even more to lure acts away from MSG and Brooklyn.

Additional coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Temporary (at least) move of Nets to Newark gets closer, as Izod-Rock deal emerges

What about the Nets?

But it's the Rock that would have the iffy tenant:

The Nets, who have been losing tens of millions of dollars a year, would avoid paying a $7.5 million penalty to the Izod Center for breaking their lease to move to Newark. They would also pay a significantly lower per-game rental fee, and earn a share of suite revenue they generate at the Prudential Center. The Devils and the Nets would also sell ticket packages together. New Jersey officials, who hold out hope that the move to Newark’s gleaming arena could help keep the Nets from moving to Brooklyn in 2012, said a performance clause in the proposed deal would require that the team spend minimum amounts on player salaries and marketing as long as they remain at the Prudential Center.

Nets officials said they wouldn't comment on a possible Newark move until bonds for the Brooklyn arena are sold--expected this month.

Posted by eric at 11:06 AM

NBA Valuations: The Business Of Basketball

Forbes
By Kurt Badenhausen, Michael K. Ozanian and Christina Settimi

Teams like the Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets were forced to slash ticket prices to lure fans to games in the midst of a recession.

Leading the pack of "franchises... reeling from bad management more than a sour economy" are:

...the New Jersey Nets, whose owner, Bruce Ratner, made the brilliant announcement after he bought the team in 2004 that he wanted to move them to Brooklyn as soon as he got a new arena. Talk about losing fans in a hurry. The Nets handed out 5,200 comp tickets per game last season to try and get fans to show up at their current home, the Izod Center. The Nets set an NBA record by losing their first 18 games this season and will not get a new arena in Brooklyn until at least 2011, if they ever do. The Nets are now worth $269 million, $31 million less than what Ratner paid.

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Atlantic Yards Report Forbes: Nets value keeps declining, 5200 free tickets a game distributed

The value of the Nets keeps declining, and an astonishing number of free tickets are being distributed.
...
Last year, according to Forbes, the team was worth $295 million, down from $325 million the previous year. The Nets are again ranked 26th out of 30 in value.

The Nets' debt/value ratio, last year a league-leading 71%, is now up to 77%.

If they are distributing 5200 free tickets a game--a number new to me--that's more than one-quarter of the house. (Ticket revenue last year went down 29%.)

Maybe that's part of why the team could give only 15% of total tickets away in the planned Brooklyn arena without incurring a license fee.

NoLandGrab: Remember that Nets CEO Brett Yormark touted, last July, that the Nets were "having one of the best off-seasons that we've had in years," which leaves us to wonder how things might look if the off-season had gone poorly.

Posted by lumi at 5:49 AM

December 7, 2009

Brooklyn Finding It Hard to Get Excited About Nets

Gothamist
by Ben Yakas

Pity the Nets, they play for our sins. They started the season a record-breaking 0-18, finally won a game last week under new head coach/GM Kiki Vandeweghe, then dropped a stinker to the slightly-less-worse Knicks last night at the Garden. The Knicks and Nets are both playing the salary cap game right now, waving a white flag this season while trying to free up space to lure some of the superstars available in next years free agent bonanza to come over and revitalize each franchise.

But as much flack as the Knicks have gotten (and deserved) this year, the Nets really are hitting new lows. As the Daily News pondered, "Who scores only 36 points in a half against the Knicks? Who makes only 14 baskets in the final 24 minutes against a Mike D'Antoni-coached defense?"

The Nets are putting all their cards on the table by promising a flourishing future in the mythical Atlantic Yards (which could be anytime between 2011 and 2013), but even potential fans are restless already.

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Posted by eric at 10:28 PM

How Low Can They Go? Winless Nets Set New Standard for Worst NBA Start Ever

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

We missed this one on Friday, and while the headline no longer applies (the Nets won!? Friday night), this still does:

Are 2010 free agents like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and King James supposed to be lured to the Nets simply by the prospect of playing in Brooklyn someday?

Maximum contracts will be available for all of these players by next summer, and the Nets will more than likely have a very high pick in the NBA Draft.

But the mounting losses and lack of star power is leaving a poor impression not only on the high-priced free agents in waiting, but the current Nets as well.

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Posted by eric at 10:05 AM

December 5, 2009

NJ Nets snap record-setting losing streak at 18 with 97-91 victory over Charlotte Bobcats

The Star-Ledger
By Dave D'Alessandro

The New Jersey Nets complete their record-breaking losing streak.

Our long national nightmare is over.

After 38 days, 18 excruciating defeats, one coaching change, a thousand jokes on radio talk shows, and incalculable angst among the few fans they have left, the Nets finally won a game Friday night.

They followed new coach Kiki Vandeweghe’s command to play with freedom and an open joy, and it translated into 48 minutes of intense effort and a devastating offensive combination in Brook Lopez and Courtney Lee, who both had special nights to lead the Nets to a 97-91 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats.

And judging by the noise they evoked from 12,131 witnesses at a delirious Izod Center, they wouldn’t mind making this a habit.

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Posted by steve at 9:40 AM

December 4, 2009

What Would It Take to Get You to a Nets Game?

Off the Dribble [NY Times NBA Blog]
by Jay Schreiber

Several weeks ago, the Nets’ marketing department tried to have some fun with the team’s losing streak. It was right after the Nets fell to 0-10 on the season, and the marketing department came up with a “10 Is Enough” promotion, offering $10 tickets to Game 11, which, naturally, the Nets lost, too.

But now that the Nets have descended to 0-18, setting an N.B.A. record for futility at the start of a season, the marketing department has backed off. No more clever promotions, at least for the moment. This leaves a vacuum that Off the Dribble will try to fill, with some help from you.

How would you promote the Nets’ next game, which will take place Friday night, at home, against the Charlotte Hornets?
...

Have an idea? Go ahead and post it. The Nets, with no victories and many empty seats, need all the help they can get.

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NoLandGrab: We have a few choice suggestions, but they're unprintable here due to FCC decency regulations.

Posted by eric at 11:44 AM

When the Home Team Stinks, So Does the Scalping Business

The New York Times
by Patrick McGeehan

To the list of world's toughest jobs, add this one: scalper of Nets' tickets.

On the spectrum of public esteem, ticket scalpers have seldom stood far from three-card monte dealers. But if ever there were a scalper who deserved pity, the white-haired man in the parking lot outside the Izod Center in New Jersey might just have been the one.

He was the only scalper brave or foolish enough to be hawking tickets Wednesday night to see the New Jersey Nets, a team that was about to redefine early season ineptitude in the National Basketball Association. Of course, he was not asking much, just half or a fourth of what the Nets claimed the seats were worth.

Still, few of the fans trickling by broke stride as he said, “Anybody need tickets?” Of the people who approached him, as many were selling unwanted tickets of their own as were looking to buy.

Some wanted to bargain him down to $8 or even $7 — less than they had just paid to park their cars.

Such is the plight of the men trying to make a living dealing basketball tickets in a season of despair.
...

In contrast to the extraordinarily high asking prices that can be found on StubHub for tickets to hot concerts or World Series games, the market for Nets and Knicks tickets has nearly hit bottom. Mr. Piacenti pointed out that on Tuesday, seats for that night’s Knicks game were available for as little as $4.99, plus fees. Somebody was offering nine tickets to the Nets’ game against Golden State on Wednesday for $1 each, before fees.

Deals like that have left the white-haired scalper in the Izod Center lot lonely and dejected.

He said he was not surprised that he had no competitors.

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NoLandGrab: "No competitors?" Au contraire, mon frere. You have a huge competitor — the Nets Chief Ticket Giveaway Officer, Brett Yormark. When plenty of tickets can be had for $0, it's kinda hard to sell them for $10. But better an out-of-work scalper than the guy who paid $125 a game for his season ticket, sitting next to a bunch of folks who paid zilch.

Oh, and one note to the reporter: "the Nets’ expected move to Brooklyn in 2011" won't happen until the fall of 2012 — at the soonest.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

Crime Beat: NBA's Crooked Ref Won't Stop Blowing Whistle, Cites Iverson Fix

Runnin' Scared
by Ward Harkavy

Maybe it would be better for the league to re-hire [crooked ref Tim] Donaghy and have him fix one of the New Jersey Nets' games so they could finally win one. Brooklyn still loves the Bums, but not these bums and is warning Bruce Ratner not to bring them to the borough.

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Posted by eric at 11:11 AM

THESE BOOS ARE FOR YOU BRUCE RATNER

NetsAreScorching
by Mark Ginocchio

Unlike The New York Times, some media outlets aren't avoiding assigning proper blame for the demise of the New Jersey Nets.

The boos that filled an otherwise empty Izod Center as the Nets set a record in futility against the Dallas Mavericks last night should be meant for one person, and one person only.

Bruce Ratner.
...

At some point, he needs to own up to the fact that as the owner of this franchise, he’s been the ultimate failure where it matters most – on the basketball court, not in the courtroom pushing people out of their homes. The hypothetical day Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov takes the reins of this organization can’t come soon enough. One can only hope that afterwards, Ratner crawls back in a hole somewhere, never to torture a sports team, a fanbase and a community, like Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, ever again.

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Thank you, sir. May we have another?

AP, Bottom-dwelling Nets take their cues from the top

Everyone insists the New Jersey Nets can't get much worse.

In that case, we'll take the under.

Team president Rod Thorn blames "a perfect storm" for his team's record-setting 0-18 start to the NBA season, but that's just the short-term forecast. Actually, it's the lack of interest and effort from owner Bruce Ratner that's swamping the franchise, steadily drip-drip-dripping down the organizational chart like a five-years-long-and-counting version of water torture.
...

The team is losing an estimated $30 million to $40 million a year, and the Nets arena is barely half-filled most nights, largely owing to Ratner's half-baked plan to move the franchise to a new stadium he planned to build in Brooklyn. Why NBA commissioner David Stern went along with the scheme is anyone's guess, but it has already cost his league plenty in credibility.

Thank you, sir. May we have another?

NBA FanHouse, Nets Are Committing Consumer Fraud

The Nets aren't just bad, folks. They aren't even trying. I am not kidding when I suggest the NBA commissioner, David Stern, apologize to their diminishing fan base and either issue ticket refunds or offer free concessions and parking in the Meadowlands. If not, we're talking about a legitimate case of consumer fraud.
...

What owner Bruce Ratner didn't calculate was the team sinking to such wretched depths that no superstar -- including LeBron James, even if he's Jay-Z's close pal -- wants any part of this operation. Worse, the Nets are plotting a move to a new arena in Brooklyn in June 2012, meaning the poor fans of Jersey are being asked to support a lame-duck franchise that is moving across the Holland Tunnel, the entire expanse of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. As it is, entire sections of the arena are empty, forcing the team to take desperate marketing measures and send players into the community, such as Harris' appearance at a South Orange grocery store. What happens the next two seasons when they're playing either in the Meadowlands or in downtown Newark? And, for that matter, what happens in Brooklyn if no major free agent signs?

Click through for some stand-up talk from the Nets' Chris Douglas-Roberts, a good guy who deserves much better than Bruce Ratner's special brand of misery.

Posted by eric at 10:22 AM

December 3, 2009

Worst Start to a Season? Envelope Goes to the Nets

The New York Times
by Howard Beck

The Times once again manages to report on the woes of the New Jersey Nets while avoiding any mention of the root cause of the problems — the ownership regime of its business partner, Bruce C. Ratner. At least Yormarketing Genius makes an appearance.

There are a variety of ways to cope with humiliating, mystifying, record-setting infamy. Some choose angry words, some choose apathy and some choose disguises.

With the Nets on the verge of making the worst kind of history Wednesday night, two fans sitting courtside chose paper. They pulled brown shopping bags (curiously adorned with festive red Santa hats) over their heads. Above the eye holes, scrawled in black ink, was their mark of shame: 0-18.

Moments later, the Dallas Mavericks made it official, sending the Nets to a 117-101 defeat, their 18th in a row, the longest streak of futility to start an N.B.A. season.

Boos echoed across the Izod Center, which was perhaps half full. Mostly, the fans sat silently fidgeting, resigned to their team’s ugly fate.
...

When the losing streak hit 10 games, the Nets’ famously creative marketing department took note, with a “10 is Enough” promotion and $10 tickets. There was an opportunity, however perverse, to sell history Wednesday. That discussion took place, though it was very brief.

“This is a basketball team,” said Brett Yormark, the president and chief executive of Nets Sports and Entertainment. “And I think there comes a point where, you know what, let’s hold back on the marketing.”

Yep, that's Yormark. Mr. Restraint.

The next promotion will be aimed at life after the streak. Yormark is calling it “the second season,” the one that begins when the team is finally, mercifully healthy. Keyon Dooling, Tony Battie and Yi are expected back soon.

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NoLandGrab: Yeah, with bench-warmers Dooling, Battie and Yi back in the lineup, the Nets ought to turn things around in no time.

Unlike The Times, most news outlets aren't shy in assigning proper blame for the demise of a franchise that only a few short years ago contended for a title.

Fox Sports on MSN, Nets go from bad to worst with 0-18 start

By all rights, team president Rod Thorn should be on the hot seat departed by Frank. However, Thorn's roster changes were done with the explicit aim of reducing the team's payroll. He was just following orders.

Accordingly, the man who issued those instructions should be the individual condemned to coach the Nets. It would indeed be perfect justice if the season-long public humiliations resulting from his presidential decisions would be directed on a game-to-game basis at none other than owner Bruce Ratner.

Yahoo! Sports!, Streak sends Nets careening into history

They had come out of morbid curiosity, a perverse loyalty to the decades of embarrassment and humiliation here. They had come to see the fruition of how a despicable owner and a mismanaged Brooklyn arena bid transformed the New Jersey Nets back into a sinkhole of a franchise, a punch line for the sport. Families had come to wear paper bags, and a father and son had come to be threatened with expulsion by security for holding up a sign that said, “End Ratner’s Reign of Error.”

They had come because, well, they practically give tickets away here now.
...

Before a half-empty Meadowlands they lost 117-101 to the Dallas Mavericks, and the Nets had so much pride, so much resolve to fight and keep themselves from a biblical basketball embarrassment, they let the Mavs shoot 80 percent for a half and 90 percent for a quarter. It shouldn’t be that easy to shoot that well in the layup line, but the Nets quit on this game, this streak, the way the owner, Bruce Ratner, quit a long time ago. Ratner has little money left for this franchise, and less character.

Uncle Mike's Musings,

I will not be paying to watch the Nets again, unless the Russian trying to buy the team from Ratner tells him to take his Atlantic Yards and shove them up his ass, and moves the team to the Prudential Center in Newark where they should have been from the day that place opened in October 2007.

Bloomberg News, New Jersey Nets Fall to 0-18, Set Season-Opening Loss Record

Even Mike Bloomberg's news outlet can dance around the Ratner issue.

The team pared costs as Bruce Ratner, who purchased the franchise in 2004, worked to gain approval for a new arena -- the Barclays Center -- as part of a residential and commercial project in Brooklyn, New York.

Posted by eric at 10:26 AM

Nets only have 1,500 season ticket holders?

Yahoo! Sports
by Mark J. Miller

The New Jersey Nets better hope that sale goes through to the richest man in Russia soon. They need the dough. And instead of moving to Brooklyn, a place whose residents aren't exactly excited to have them or their horrendous-looking arena setting up shop, they might want to consider Newark, where the city seems to want them and the arena is already built. Seems like that would save them a ton of cash, which they seem to need these days.

An executive of the team is saying that the team only has sold 1,500 season tickets and partial season tickets combined, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

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NoLandGrab: Wait a second, didn't Nets CEO Brett Yormark brag to ESPN Radio's Seth Everett back in July that the Nets were "having one of the best off-seasons that we've had in years?" Guess they had set the bar pretty low.

And to think they followed up "one of the best off-seasons that we've had in years" with the worst start to a real NBA season ever.

Posted by eric at 10:15 AM

Politi: Negative signs are everywhere for downtrodden NJ Nets

The Star-Ledger
by Steve Politi

Here's a must-read piece from Steve Politi: not only are the New Jersey Nets the worst out-of-the-gate NBA team ever, but apparently, "Ratner" is considered offensive language at the IZOD Center.

RatnerReignofError.jpg

The sign was a simple protest, scrawled on a white poster board in black Magic Marker. It did not contain any naughty words. It was, as these things go at sporting events, rather tame.

“End Ratner’s Reign of Error!” the sign read, and 14-year-old Evan Juliano held it up twice from his seats a few rows behind the Nets bench.

He held it up because he and his father, Dave, are season-ticket holders for what is fast becoming the worst team in NBA history, an 0-18 train wreck that didn’t even bother to show up for its date with infamy Wednesday night.

But somewhere in the second quarter, as the Mavericks impossibly scored on 22 of 24 possessions en route to a 117-101 victory, the Julianos were told to put their sign down. They were told it was derogatory.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, At the Izod Center, an "End Ratner’s Reign of Error!” sign is squelched

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, "End Ratner's Reign of Error!" In NJ and BK.

Nets fans, sports fans—heck, all humans—should now understand why Brooklynites (sports fans many), have been in an uproar for six years. If Ratner can do this to something he owns, just think what he does to things that are not his.

Posted by eric at 9:14 AM

December 2, 2009

Nets (Never Ending Terrible Season) lose to Mavericks, set record for futility

Atlantic Yards Report

Congratulations, Bruce Ratner, you own the worst start in NBA history, which makes you the worst... oh, never mind.

Blown out tonight, 117-101, by the hot-shooting Dallas Mavericks, the Nets are now 0-18 to start the season, setting a National Basketball Association record for futility (at the start of a season) and validating the sign in the audience reading Never Ending Terrible Season.

The arena, reports the Times, was "perhaps half full." The official attendance was 11,689, about 58% of capacity.

It is no small irony that the record was set against the Mavericks, led by point guard Jason Kidd, whom the Nets traded away for Devin Harris. Last year, it looked like the Nets had gotten the better of the deal, but, with Harris's injuries and Kidd's resurgence, sportswriters aren't so sure.

And, of course, it is no small irony that the record was set as the long-delayed move of the Nets to Brooklyn comes closer and closer, with arena bonds rated at (barely) investment grade and the salary cap flexibility to upgrade the team.

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NoLandGrab: And it's also no small irony that the game's radio broadcast tonight was aired on Bloomberg 1130 in the New York metro area, since Bruce Ratner's team-wrecking land-grab has been ably aided and abetted by the Mayor of New York City.

Posted by eric at 11:57 PM

Nets' problems of their own making

SI.com

But if you were to jot down a quick list of the Nets' problems, Frank would be nowhere near the top.

Sitting alone in that position is Bruce Ratner, New Jersey's cost-conscious owner who has overseen the dismantling of a franchise less than a decade removed from back-to-back Finals appearances. With the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn bleeding him for millions, Ratner's team paid the ultimate price.
...

The Nets will try to avoid setting the NBA's record for futility to open a season when they face Kidd (one of Frank's staunchest supporters) and the Mavericks Thursday in the Meadowlands. They will likely lose, and lose badly. Interim coach Tom Barrise, who will coach the team until GM Kiki Vandeweghe takes over on Friday, will face the media and shoulder the blame. A few players might do the same. But the real culprit in this Titanic-sized season is Ratner. This ignominious record will be all on him.

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Posted by eric at 1:30 PM

As Nets Shoot for History, Brett Yormark Turns It Up 18 Notches!

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

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Posted by eric at 10:50 AM

Quick fix for Nets: Move 'em to LI

Newsday

Bruce Ratner's NBA franchise is officially "woebegone:"

Mark Herrmann's temporary solution for fixing the Nets is to move the woebegone franchise to Long Island.

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NoLandGrab: Moving the team to Long Island won't fix the team, buoy attendance, or do Long Islanders any favors.

Posted by lumi at 5:48 AM

December 1, 2009

With Futility Record at Stake, Ticket Sales Are as Cold as the Nets

Off the Dribble [NY Times NBA Blog]
by Ken Belson

Yormarketing Genius appears to be running out of ideas.

In a season gone astray, the chance to see the Nets set a record, even one for futility, may be reason enough to head to East Rutherford, N.J., to cheer them on. The Dallas Mavericks and their star, Dirk Nowitzki, are potential drawing cards as well.

Yet prices for many tickets for Wednesday’s game are being sold for up to 40 percent below face value, according to Jason Berger, the president of AllShows.com, a leading ticket broker.

Tickets on FanSnap, which scans the Web sites of ticket resellers, showed even deeper discounts. Seats in the upper bowl at the Izod Center were being sold for as little as $2. Some seats in the lower bowl were being dumped for $8.

Rod Thorn, the Nets’ president, apologized to fans last week. In a letter sent to season-ticket holders, he said that “our season has certainly been frustrating so far.” He added that the players’ “inability to finish close games has put us in a tough spot.”

Thorn said the Nets’ goals remained unchanged: “Be as competitive as possible in the present, and position ourselves to make major improvements in the near future.”

Thorn did not define the near future.

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NoLandGrab: It's a pity that Rod Thorn is having to apologize to season-ticket holders, when it's Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark who've turned the Nets into the worst team in pro sports.

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

Let's be Frank, winless Nets are a mess

ESPN.com
by Chris Sheridan

On Sunday night, the New Jersey Nets lost 106-87 to the Los Angeles Lakers in a game in which they stayed competitive for roughly five minutes. They are now 0-17, tied for the worst start to a season in NBA history, and will have former franchise cornerstone Jason Kidd in the house when the Dallas Mavericks attempt to tag them with the unprecedented and dubious distinction that an 0-18 record would carry with it.

The Nets are a bigger mess than they've been at any time since 1976, when former owner Roy Boe had to sell Julius Erving to the Philadelphia 76ers to raise the money to pay the indemnity fee the Nets owed to the New York Knicks for infringing upon their territory when the NBA and ABA merged.
...

The dismissal of Frank was described by one source close to the team as a "mercy firing," a decision that ultimately had to be approved by Bruce Ratner. The lame duck owner is in the midst of selling the team to Russian oligarch and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who hopes to become the point man for the team's eventual move to Brooklyn.

But that move is still contingent on bonds being sold, property being condemned and temporary restraining orders being avoided -- all before Dec. 31, when Ratner needs to have broken ground on the Brooklyn complex to secure financing through a set of expiring tax-free bonds. If a master closing on the Brooklyn project is not completed by Jan. 1, the deal with Prokhorov, as presently constituted, would be off.

Plus, the NBA's board of governors still must sign off on the sale after an exhaustive background investigation of Prokhorov is completed.

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Related coverage...

SportsBusiness Daily, Nets Sale To Prokhorov Still Faces Months Of Uncertainty [Trial subscription/registration required]

The Nets still could "face months of ownership limbo before" the NBA BOG votes on Bruce Ratner's sale to Mikhail Prokhorov, according to Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com.

AP, On Basketball: Future hopes make Nets hopeless now

The trades gave Nets management what it wants: plenty of salary cap space for the loaded class of 2010, a chance to immediately upgrade the team into a contender by the time it hopes to make its long-planned and much-delayed move to Brooklyn.

NoLandGrab: Truth be told, cap space was a secondary consideration. Ratner's more immediate need was to reduce expenses with the team losing upwards of $30 million per year, and patience over those losses running thin at Forest City headquarters in Cleveland.

HoopsVibe.com, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade should consider New Jersey Nets’ upside

On the surface, the Nets seem to have little chance at signing a top free agent next July. However, with a declining salary cap, Bosh, James, Johnson, or Wade should see the possibilities with a fixer-upper like New Jersey.

NLG: "Fixer-upper?" At 0-17, and counting, the Nets are a tear-down.

NetsDaily, Sheridan: Nets at All-Time Low

Now, that’s saying something...

Posted by eric at 10:41 AM

November 30, 2009

Nets Ownership Dictation Opens New Doors, May Modification Vendee Profile

Windows Live

We're assuming that English was not this post's first language.

Prokhorov was cited in an article last hebdomad naming this a "hostile bidding". Hostile or not, Prokhorov looks more interested in the squad as an investing vehicle, not as the typical sportswoman proprietor ( IE Grade Cuban, Steinbrenner, Can H,etc. ). The squad is hemorrhaging money, Bruce Ratner 's immovable company is holds founder under the economical pressure, and merely like many other American corps the Nets ( and its current ownership ) necessitated a fresh extract of cash to keep operations and hold the dreaming of travelling to Brooklyn live. The trade looks to be more Risk capital than typical squad ownership dealing, an outsider investor rendering running cash exchange for equity.

While the conference is likelily excited about the new international frontiers that go available with a Russian proprietor, could it but be that most American businessman hold shied forth from the hazard and low one-year gainfulness of sports squad ownership, and VC type investings in the wide marketplace hold virtually vanishes in that economy, squeezing Ratner to turn elsewhere.

Funding the trade with upward front cash, highly rare in what I 've seen of these type of minutes, farther supports the dealing of more VC investing than new ownership squad. Ratner apparently remains in the icon and gets new cash flowing to proceed the Brooklyn venture and will now share in the top with his gent investor, in the procedure disintermediating himself from the squad, which he holded small or no involvement in in the first place.

link

Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

0-17: Nets match NBA’s worst start to a season

Firing the coach didn't work. Maybe try firing the owner?

When the New Jersey Nets finally reached an inauspicious NBA record, the Staples Center’s public address announcer let the crowd know all about it.

At least he had the tact to wait until the Nets were out of earshot after their 17th straight loss.

The undermanned, undertalented Nets matched the worst start to an NBA season Sunday night, with Kobe Bryant scoring 30 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 106-87 victory.

A few hours after New Jersey fired coach Lawrence Frank, the Nets had little prayer of keeping up with the defending league champions, who won their sixth straight game. Despite apparently playing hard for temporary head coach Tom Barrise, New Jersey fell behind by 27 points in the first half and went into history with yet another whimper.
...

New Jersey must beat the Dallas Mavericks back home in the East Rutherford swamp on Wednesday night—perhaps while playing for the club’s third coach in three games—to avoid sole possession of an embarrassing NBA record.
...

Guard Rafer Alston compared the Nets’ roster to an awful poker hand, saying Frank “wasn’t dealt a royal flush. It’s almost like he had a pair of 2’s, and he tried to fight.”

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NoLandGrab: "A pair of 2's," and a joker in the owner's box.

Additional coverage...

NY Daily News, As New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner works on cheap, Lawrence Frank gets booted

In all three cases, the Nets took back less talent than they sent out, a doomed strategy if there ever was one. But it was Ratner's master plan. Because of his own financial woes, the Nets pared their salaries to around $57 million, only about $5 million more than the team with the lowest payroll, Oklahoma City.

So if there is anyone to blame for the current crisis, it starts at the top.

The Star-Ledger, Politi: Rod Thorn is the last reason to believe in NJ Nets

Firing Lawrence Frank now is like throwing the captain of the Titanic overboard after it hit the iceberg.

Why bother? To borrow the famous quote from Micheal Ray Richardson, the ship be sinking anyway.

The Nets kept the coach around this long for one reason: They were too cheap to hire his replacement, just like they were too cheap to keep this team from becoming a national joke.
...

The stain of this historic losing streak belongs on the owner’s legacy alone, which might offer fans some solace — if Ratner cared about anything but his Brooklyn real estate deal.

NY Post, Winless Nets give boot to head coach

A spokesman for Prokhorov said: "He has no comment. Bruce Ratner is still the Nets owner."

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner the Destroyer

What else would anyone, any fan, expect when the owner buys a team as a tool for a corrupt land grab? The chickens have come home to roost at the Izod Center.

NBA Fanhouse, Frankly Speaking, Frank Takes the Fall

Thorn plans to meet Monday with others in the organization, including owner Bruce Ratner (assuming he can break away from his architectural sketches), to decide on the interim coach.

NY Observer, Today in Local Sports Coverage: The Da Vinci Coach

Yesterday, after an 0-16 start, the Nets finally canned coach Lawrence Frank, sparing him the ignominy of entering the record books with the rest of the team last night, as they tied the record for season-starting futility by losing number 17 in L.A.

The New York Times, At 0-17, the Nets Tie an Unwanted Record

The Times manages to publish a lengthy story on the Nets record-tying loss and the firing of Lawrence Frank without once mentioning the name of its development partner, Bruce C. Ratner.

CBSSports.com, Frank becomes cap-space casualty

But clearing the books for a move to Brooklyn -- and selling the team to someone who could actually take it there -- was more important to owner Bruce Ratner than keeping Vince Carter, who didn't want to talk about the whole thing Sunday night. Asked for his comment on Frank's firing, Carter said simply, "None. I don't want to talk about it, if you don't mind."

the east coast bias, Bye bye, Lawrence

I suppose after a coach goes 0-17 in the NBA, a firing is in order. But New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank got screwed, and screwed hard, by a team and an ownership more concerned with clearing money for this supposed move to the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn than with putting a competitive team on the floor.

Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

November 29, 2009

Nets fire Frank after 0-16 start

Yahoo! Sports
by Adrian Wojnarowski

Bruce Ratner's latest victim is Nets coach Lawrence Frank, handed the keys to the worst team in professional sports and then blamed for not being able to win.

The New Jersey Nets have fired Lawrence Frank, the coach told Yahoo! Sports.

Frank will not coach against the Lakers on Sunday night, when the Nets will have a chance to tie an NBA record with a 17th straight loss to start the season. New Jersey assistant Tom Barrise will coach Sunday instead.

Yahoo! Sports first reported early Sunday that Nets president Rod Thorn had made the decision to fire Frank. Thorn was expected to meet with owner Bruce Ratner on Sunday to inform him that he would replace Frank on Monday, but sped up the process after news of Frank’s imminent dismissal became public.

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NoLandGrab: This is what happens when your motivation for buying a team is to use it as a beard for a land grab. Expect the team to promote from within, since having to shell out for a coach outside the organization is financially unfeasible for the money-hemorrhaging Nets.

Posted by eric at 3:30 PM

November 27, 2009

The Record: Game-changing ruling

The Bergen Record
Editorial

Soon enough, they will probably be the team from Atlantic Yards, with an 18,000-seat arena built just for them. The New Jersey Nets will become the Brooklyn Nets, and we will have lost our team.

This is not the outcome we wanted. We wanted the Nets to stay in the Garden State. If they had to move to the Prudential Center in Newark from the Izod Center in the Meadowlands, then so be it. At least they would still be in northern New Jersey.

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Posted by lumi at 5:15 AM

November 26, 2009

Nets won't go outside organization if they fire Frank

NY Post
By Fred Kerber

Frank is left to answer virtually every day questions about how he can remain so gosh-darn peppy when the executioner is around the corner. And with the Nets making national news as they approach the dubious 0-17 start achieved by an expansion team (Heat, '88-89) and the Nets West (Clippers, '98-99), the coaching death watch is on.

Names have floated. But make no mistake. The same organization that required workers to take Fridays off in the summer to save money is not going outside. If Frank is canned, one of the current staff or GM Kiki Vandeweghe (whose name pops up in discussions more and more) will likely take over. Forget experience. All those candidates have one major requirement on the resume.

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Also...

NetsAreScorching, Nets on the Net: 11/26/09 Turkey Day Edition

Meanwhile, the whispers about Frank’s future continue. If Frank gets fired, his replacement will likely come from in-house as the organization continues to pinch pennies.

Another article that gathers some reaction from the 88-89 Miami Heat and the 99-00 LA Clippers, aka, the two teams the Nets could soon be challenging for infamy.

Posted by lumi at 9:09 AM

November 25, 2009

Nets Have Dug a Big Hole, but Their Foundation Is in Place

The New York Times
by Jonathan Abrams

The Nets have lost their first 14 games in a start that is threatening to make their season irrelevant before the calendar turns to 2010. The long-term future, however, looks a lot brighter.

The final challenge to their plans to build an arena in Brooklyn was denied Tuesday, increasing the likelihood of the Nets’ opening the 2012-13 season there. No matter where they play that season, their two budding stars — Brook Lopez and Devin Harris — give them the building blocks for an improved on-court product.

NoLandGrab: Final challenge? The decision was a blow for project opponents, to be sure, but four lawsuits challenging the project are still unresolved.

New York’s Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge over the use of eminent domain in constructing the long-planned and long-delayed Atlantic Yards project near Brooklyn’s downtown and ushering in a new arena for the Nets.

The ruling was the last major hurdle in the groundbreaking process.

NLG: Last major hurdle? Hardly. Ratner still needs to sell $700 million worth of arena bonds, for which there may not be a market, in the next five weeks.

The present is not quite as promising. Coach Lawrence Frank and the Nets flew to Denver for their game against the Nuggets on Tuesday night barreling toward the worst start in N.B.A. history with a four-game trip in their forecast.

Their 101-87 loss dropped them to 0-14, the effects of a raft of injuries and salary purging over the last two seasons. The trip ends in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Sunday, and if the Nets return home winless, they will have matched the 1988-89 expansion Miami Heat and 1999 Los Angeles Clippers for worst start in league history.

If so, history will not reflect the injuries, the long hours of Frank, whose job is on the line, or the cost-cutting demands from the current owner, Bruce C. Ratner. Instead, the Nets may stand as holders of the league’s worst start if they lose to the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 2.
...

After Tuesday’s court ruling, the future appears much brighter, but how to bridge that gap is still uncertain. Ratner purchased the franchise in 2003 for $300 million, originally planning to transplant the Nets from New Jersey in time for this season.

NLG: This season? No, when he announced the Atlantic Yards project in 2003, Ratner said the Nets would begin playing in Brooklyn in 2006.

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NLG:Could it be that The Times doesn't realize that Bruce C. Ratner runs the company that was the development partner for their eminent domain-abusing headquarters building? They seem to have omitted that fact from this article.

Atlantic Yards Report, No, Ratner didn't buy the Nets in 2003 to move them in 2009

NoLandGrab's Eric McClure reminds us that the original move date was 2006 and also points out some other miscues.

Would you believe that some bloggers in Brooklyn have a heck of a lot more institutional memory than the Paper of Record?

Posted by eric at 12:50 PM

November 24, 2009

K-Mart faults Ratner for Nets ills

NY Post Nets Blog
by Fred Kerber

Kenyon Martin admitted he still has some warm feelings for the Nets. No sympathy for tonight when the Nuggets and Nets play, but warm feelings. And he still feels something toward the Nets' soon-to-be-ex-owner Bruce Ratner.

And it's not warm or good.

Ratner, K-Mart said this morning, is why the Nets are a mess right now.

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Posted by eric at 6:51 PM

NJ Nyets: ownership bashing

The delirious pile of criticism for the NJ Nets continues, with no one to blame but team owner and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner:

The Houston Chronicle, 0-82 season awaits hapless, ailing Nets

In the shadow of the George Washington Bridge, near an off-ramp of the Garden State Parkway, the New Jersey Nets are on the toll road to NBA history. In their sights is the league's worst record ever, and, with a little less effort, they could go winless.

At the moment, the Nets are 0-13.

After studying their schedule closely, I have determined it is possible — make that likely — the Nets will go 0-82.
...
Bruce Ratner, the Nets' principal owner, recently sold 80 percent of the team to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Prokhorov, I am told, plans to auction off all the team's assets and convert the arena into in-laws' quarters.

If he keeps the team intact, he might want to think about an “82 Is Enough” promotion.

Examiner.com, Frank shouldn't take the fall for Nets' struggles

If the New Jersey Nets return home from the upcoming west-coast trip at 0-17, head coach Lawrence Frank might not find himself in position to take the next team trip.
...
In fairness to the Nets, the team has gone downhill ever since Kenyon Martin was jettisoned off to Denver. Owner Bruce Ratner looked at the Nets as a business opportunity, not a championship team. After trying to move the team for years and failing, he is now openly trying to sell the team to Mikhail Prokhorov.

Posted by lumi at 4:59 AM

November 23, 2009

Sportswriters blame Nets' 0-13 start mostly on Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

Blame Bruce (mostly), say sportswriters assessing the New Jersey Nets' 0-13 start, which has been exacerbated by injuries to key players.
...

Of course, those taking the long view suggest that the Nets, assuming a new owner, a new arena, and a free agent signing to add to a reasonable core of players (when healthy), could turn around in a couple of years.

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NoLandGrab: That's assuming a lot. Given a wise Court of Appeals decision, a new administration in City Hall, a new development (UNITY) Plan, and new developers, something good could be erected over the Vanderbilt Yard, too.

Posted by eric at 9:49 AM

West coast trip brings week of reckoning for NJ Nets coach Lawrence Frank

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

As this silly season drags on, [Lawrence Frank's] job becomes less relevant. Everyone knew all along that he was set up to fail. Everyone knew they told him he’d have the pieces to compete – until they decided not to touch the roster or spend a dime after draft night. Everyone knew they told him he can choose who gets to play, until they told him who has to play. Everyone knew they told him it that wins really wouldn’t matter – until they would matter. Everyone knew they told him he’d learn to live without Vince, but that he should still figure out how to win a two-minute game without his only closer.

Sometimes you even wonder whether having a coach even matters around here.
...

Because if [Rod] Thorn is honest about why they’re in this ditch, he’ll admit that it’s ownership – not the coach – who has ordered him to sit on his wallet and dump his best players for inferior or less durable talents.

It’s ownership – not the coach – that has this team entombed in a cement slab on the side of a highway rather than a vibrant, state-of-the-sport facility that could actually generate some excitement.

And it’s ownership – not the coach -- that is messing with Thorn’s legacy, and don’t think that part doesn’t irritate everyone who reveres The Boss inside the organization and around the NBA.

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NoLandGrab: And it's ownership that is... Bruce Ratner!

Posted by eric at 9:39 AM

Why the Nets are where they are today

MyYESNetwork.com
By Al Iannazzone

The numero uno reason that the 0-13 Nets suck this year is...

Bruce Ratner: Nice man, but his interests were in real estate opportunities and buildings, not building a championship team. He bought a contender and kept cutting payroll instead of letting Rod Thorn add quality pieces that could Nets over the top.

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NoLandGrab: We wouldn't accuse Bruce of being a "nice man," since actions speak louder than words.

Posted by lumi at 5:10 AM

November 22, 2009

Bruce Ratner: "I'm just here to watch the game."

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Bruce Ratner's vaporteam, the New Jersey Nets, are now 0-13 after losing to the lowly Knicks. They are now headed for a 4 game West Coast swing looking to tie the record for most loses at the start of the season. What did team owner Bruce Ratner say when the Star Ledger's Steve Politi approached him?

...“I’m just here to watch the game,” Ratner said, declining to answer questions about the state of the team at halftime, and you hope he was embarrassed with what he saw.

This is basically how he has treated the massive resistance to his bone-headed Atlantic Yards proposal in Brooklyn.

Remember, the reason the Nets stink is because Ratner bought the team for a sweetheart real estate deal and then commenced dismantling what was once a championship caliber team.

If he can destroy a talented team in five years, just think what wonders he can work in Prospect Heights with his vaportecture.

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Posted by steve at 8:25 AM

November 20, 2009

Newark Mayor Booker again cautious about permanent Nets move, enthusiastic about temporary one

Atlantic Yards Report

As he did during last month's radio appearance, Newark Mayor Cory Booker last night steered clear of any prognostication about a permanent move of the Nets to Newark but focused on a temporary one.

He spoke during his monthly Newark Today with Cory Booker show on WBGO. The discussion (starting about 46 minutes in) focused on the Nets moving to the Prudential Center for a season or two before a potential move to Brooklyn.

Host Andrew Meyer noted that expected new owner Mikhail Prokhorov has been reported (secondhand) as being open to buying the team at a reduced price and keeping the team in Newark. "Nets management still says the [permanent] Jersey option is moot," said Meyer. "What's the reality now?"

"The reality is we're in a powerful negotiation right now that [outgoing Gov.] Jon Corzine has brought down to the two-inch line before we can score the touchdown, which is, an agreement between the Nets, Izod Center, and Newark, to heal the wounds," Booker said, "to set a new arrangement with the Devils, which will significantly increase the revenue Newark will get... and stop having two arenas competing with each other."
...

"And if they don't build the [new Brooklyn arena]?" asked Meyer.

"Then we have a chance to keep the team," Booker said. He did not say, as he has done in the past, that Newark-based investors were ready to scoop up the team. Maybe everyone's been scared away by Prokhorov.

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Posted by eric at 9:02 AM

What's wrong with the Nets and how can they be fixed?

The Bergen Record
By Alan Iannazzone

With the NJ Nets 0-12 start, Bruce Ratner's NBA franchise is heading towards a battle of the bums against the Knicks on Saturday.

How did this happen? Can they get out of this? Can the ’09-10 season be saved? What about next year?

According to Iannazzone, you can blame Bruce, prayer might be a last resort, the season is history, and the Nets might end up with enough cap space to sign two elite players, so there's always next year.

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Posted by lumi at 6:04 AM

November 19, 2009

My Top 10 Marketing Ideas For Winless Nets

Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

It can be argued that no team has had it harder than the New Jersey Nets.

They haven’t won a game in 12 tries this year.

They don’t have many marketable players. There’s a lack of public transportation to their arena. They’ve fully committed to leaving the market for Brooklyn and they are waiting for a new owner to take power.

To the credit of Nets CEO Brett Yormark, the team has seemingly tried everything to jumpstart attendance, from giving away jerseys that have the opposing players on them to offering $10 lower bowl tickets as part of a “10 (losses) is enough” promotion for Tuesday night’s game. On Saturday, it’s not enough that the team is playing the New York Knicks, who also are struggling, the team is bringing in Dora The Explorer to help fill the arena with more families.

I haven’t received a phone call, but if the Nets were to ask me what they should do next, here’s the list I would give them.

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NoLandGrab: Once again, here's somebody giving grossly undeserved credit to Brett Yormark, CEO — not promotions director — of the worst team in the NBA. We do like the idea about signing a Globetrotter, though.

Posted by eric at 5:28 PM

November 18, 2009

NYTimes Sports section salutes Yormark, calls promotion a "modest success" (*) despite failure to come close to 15,000 attendance

Atlantic Yards Report

New York Times sports reporter Ken Belson November 16:

Whether the Nets beat Indiana (4-3) is an open question. But the promotion has prompted some fans to act. The team has sold 700 $10 seats so far and expects as many as 15,000 fans to show up for Tuesday’s game, around the season average.

Belson, writing today (in an article destined for tomorrow's paper), curiously called the promotion a "modest success" despite the failure to come close to 15,000 and offers some sympathetic rhetoric ("Alas"):

The team sold 1,000 $10 tickets and gave away 500 seats to season-ticket holders, a modest success on 48 hours’ notice and on a Tuesday night against a lesser rival. Alas, the promotion did not get the Nets over the hump. The announced crowd of 11,332 was more than 3,000 under the season average and the Nets lost, 91-83.

Still, the promotion was vintage Yormark: creative, quick and value oriented. It was also a sign of how far he and the Nets are going to fill their arena and of the challenges they face.

*Update: after I first posted, that "modest success" line was edited away.

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NoLandGrab: Norman Oder goes on to point out that the promotion was a modest personal success for Yormark, who managed to scam several members of the press into giving him ink.

Honestly, is the guy not seriously overrated? He's CEO of a team that's now 0-12. Offering tickets to a(n allegedly) professional sporting event for $10, or, better yet, free, he only managed to fill 1,500 additional seats (maybe, given the NBA's loosey-goosey rules on what constitutes "attendance" (and c'mon, in this age of email and Facebook and Twitter and print-yourself tickets, 48 hours is an eternity). The team is going to break all previous records for losing money this season. Where's the beef?

Posted by eric at 11:11 PM

Nets hope for 15,000 attendance, draw 11,332

Atlantic Yards Report

The NY Times reported that, based on ticket sales, the NJ Nets expected 15,000 attendees at last night's game. The Daily News reported that "Only 11,332 fans showed up."

Norman Oder adds some common sense to NBA math:

...those numbers were doubtful, given that announced attendance typically reflects ticket distribution rather than gate count.

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Posted by lumi at 6:51 AM

November 17, 2009

Pacers win 5th straight, drop Nets to 0-11

AP via Yahoo! Sports
by Brian Mahoney

If Bruce Ratner can do with the Atlantic Yards project what he's done for the New Jersey Nets since buying the team, we can't imagine why we've been opposing the project all these years.

Danny Granger thought the Indiana Pacers had a rough start to the season.

Try telling that to the winless New Jersey Nets.

Granger scored 22 points, Roy Hibbert tied a career high with 19 and the Pacers dropped the Nets to 0-11 with a 91-83 victory Tuesday night.
...

No end in sight for the Nets, on their longest skid since dropping 11 in a row to end the 1999-00 season.
...

Hoping to end the skid, the Nets asked their fans to show support with a “10 is enough!” plan, giving each season-ticket holder two tickets to bring additional fans. But the announced attendance was only 11,332, and now there are still no wins.

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NoLandGrab: If the announced attendance was 11,332, then certainly the actual living, breathing attendance was much lower, and the more important actual living, breathing, paying attendance was, well, not much.

"11 is enough!," anyone?

Photo: Antonelli/NY Daily News

Posted by eric at 11:26 PM

Tickets for nothing, Nets for free!

The NJ Nets are not only blowing out lower-level seats for tonight's game for a mere $10, but are also giving away extra tickets to season-ticket holders in hopes that they will bring along a friend or two, which would make anyone who paid face value for tonight's game a real sucker.

NY Daily News, Sean Williams emerges as bright spot for winless New Jersey Nets

The team, off to a franchise-worst 0-10 start, is giving each season-ticket holder two additional tickets for the game, with the hope that each of those fans will "bring additional friends and family to produce a packed house of cheering Nets fans."

NBA Fanhouse, Nets Make Losing a Marketing Gimmick

the 0-10 New Jersey Nets have accepted that ignoring the big, fat goose egg in "W" column is no longer possible ...

... which is why they've unveiled the "10 is Enough" promotion, which involves giving every season ticket holder two free tickets to Tuesday's game and selling a bunch more tickets to the general public for $10 a pop.

NY Daily News, New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark asks fans to show up

The team is giving away two extra tickets to every season ticket holder for tomorrow's game against the Indiana Pacers, hoping a more-crowded Izod Center will give the Nets a jolt.

Posted by lumi at 5:54 PM

NJ Nets Mailbag (Hodgepodge Edition)

NJ.com
by Dave D'Alessandro (and his readers)

A couple letters in Dave D'Alessandro's mailbag don't pertain to how woeful Bruce Ratner's penny-pinching has rendered the Nets.

Dave: Here in Brooklyn, they must be using invisible bulldozers, because I don’t see any on the Yards site.
James

JT: I’m thinking Mr. Yormark misspoke, or simply meant that the machinery is very close by and ready to begin work, which is obviously the case. I’m told that the prep work has been going on for years -- new sewage and water pipes, building the temp rail yard, etc. -- all the stuff necessary for pre-groundbreaking.

NoLandGrab: Mr. Yormark is more prone to fibbing than misspeaking.

Double D: Is there any chance that Oligarchy Ollie doesn’t pass the Stern test?
Tully

Thanks for the laugh I needed today, Tul. There was no Stern test, per se -- it was a complete whitewash, with the primer coat applied way back in August, shortly after a Ratner visit to Moscow. There was never any way they were going to turn him away: If you can let inveterate racist such as Donald Sterling into your club, who can you realistically keep out of it? And maybe he got his nine or 15 or 25 billion (we’re hearing newer and higher figures) through cronyism, Putinism, and other questionable means, but that doesn’t make him anything less than a swell guy in Stern’s eyes. So Mickey will take over the team soon, the commish will thump his chest about how he embodies and embraces noblesse oblige, and the rest of us will hold our noses in honor of the people of Norilsk, who have to inhale sulfur dioxide and other toxic dusts that come from his smokestacks as he piles up his billions.

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NLG: If the Prokhorov deal was cooked in August, that would put it several weeks ahead of the "official" timeline of events.

Posted by eric at 1:47 PM

Who would've thunk it: the Nets are "my" team

Atlantic Yards Report

Nets CEO Brett Yormark sends the "Mad O" a "Dear Norman" letter:

DearNorman.jpg

I got this email today offering discounts. But I think the only people who can really call a team their own are in Green Bay.

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Posted by lumi at 5:03 AM

November 16, 2009

Getting money out of Russia: why Prokhorov might want the Nets no matter where they play

Atlantic Yards Report

The proposed purchase of a majority interest in the Nets by Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's richest man (at a reported $9.5 billion) may seem to be a toy (as per the New York Times) for the oligarch.

After all, it would cost him just $200 million down (all borrowed) plus a willingness to absorb Nets' debts and losses--hundreds of millions of dollars more--to gain 80% of the team and 45% of the arena.

But if Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner is desperate to divest a money-losing asset, maybe Prokhorov is a little desperate in his own way, given the difficulty--and importance--of getting assets out of Russia and into more stable overseas markets not subject to the heavy hand of the Russian state.

A new owner in NJ?

If that's true--and there's some evidence--then Prokhorov should follow the deal whether it takes him to Brooklyn or New Jersey.

Indeed, after ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that Prokhorov might buy the Nets even if they stay in New Jersey, a minority owner of the team confirmed to the Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro that "it is believed that Prokhorov 'might be inclined to still buy and keep it in Jersey' if the price could be worked out." (In other words, a renegotiation.)

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NoLandGrab: Sure, Prokhorov might be interested in the larger Atlantic Yards real estate deal, but we sincerely doubt it. He wants to own an NBA team, not some apartment buildings. So we have a modest proposal for Mr. Prokhorov.

You've seen the Prudential Center. Nice arena, right? Great pre-season crowd. Ready to go on opening day 2010 (if not sooner). As close to Manhattan as Brooklyn is.

Here's the plan: You make a small investment in Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, say, $300,000. That's not even a rounding error for you. At the same time, you start making noise about how you think the use of eminent domain is inappropriate (maybe relate it to how the totalitarian Soviet state disrespected private property back in the old days, and how you always resented it as a kid). Then you feign cold feet on the Nets deal. And then you sit back, and wait. It won't take long. With the prospect of his rich Russian oligarch bailing, Ratner's Atlantic Yards deal will be belly-up in a matter of weeks, if not days. And then you ride back in, buy the Nets for 50 cents on the dollar, move them to Newark, and voila: You've got what you want, at a huge, Norilsk Nickel-like discount. You can thank us with a couple courtside seats for Lebron and the Cavs, and maybe one of those $19,000 lunches.

Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

At (up to) 94% discount, Nets try to fill seats with "10 is enough" promotion

Atlantic Yards Report

It would be tough enough to fill seats at the Izod Center for a midweek game against a non-marquee opponent, but the New Jersey Nets are also winless, at 0-10 (albeit coming quite close a couple of times).

So Nets CEO Brett Yormark (aka "Yormarketing genius") has devised a "10 is enough" promotion, offering all lower level seats for $10 when the Nets plays the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Deep discount

Some of those seats have a face value of $175, so that's a 94% discount.

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Related coverage...

NetsDaily, Nets Marketing a Losing Streak

There’s always a new chapter in Brett Yormark’s marketing playbook. There was Chinese dragon dancing; a “snowbird” ticket exchange with his twin’s lousy hockey team; reversible jerseys (sans paper bag headgear); Rent-a-Net for $25K; etc. Now, he’s promoting the team’s losing streak, offering $10 (Get it?) tickets to Tuesday’s Pacers game under the banner, “10 is Enough!” How about “Enough is Enough?”

Posted by eric at 11:25 AM

November 15, 2009

Report: Nets could remain in New Jersey if Brooklyn move falls through

The Star-Ledger
By Dave D'Alessandro

The Nets, via Ratner, Yormark, et al., have said that if the Nets don't move to Brooklyn, then abosolutely, positively, oligarch Mikhail Prokorov would drop his deal to purchase the Nets. It turns out that's not true.

Both Bruce Ratner and David Stern have stated recently that if Atlantic Yards doesn’t get under way, it’s a deal-breaker, and that Prokhorov will take his billions and go home — leaving Ratner with no other option but to seek out-of-town buyers, perhaps from Seattle.

But that might have changed in the months since those assertions.

One minority partner, who requested anonymity so he could speak candidly, said Saturday it is believed that Prokhorov “might be inclined to still buy and keep it in Jersey” if the price could be worked out.

Nets CEO Brett Yormark insists construction for a Nets arena in Brooklyn will begin in mid-December. It could be true, but he seems to forget that there are court cases and financing to get in order, first.

Yormark would only say that the Jersey option will be moot as soon as the Nets take possession of the land in Brooklyn: “There are bulldozers on the site right now,” the CEO said here Saturday. “There is preparatory activity, and we will commence construction in mid-December. We’re just as confident as ever that we’ll be in Brooklyn.”

That cannot happen until some eminent domain issues and bond sales go forward, however.

link

Posted by steve at 8:00 AM

EB and RU Roll Along

Uncle Mike's Musings

This blog, which is "mostly about sports", the author expresses (using some strong language) the travesty of trying to move the Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn when there's already a new arena available in Newark.

Why do I even bother to pay attention? They're going to be playing their home games in Brooklyn in 3 years. Or maybe 4.

Or maybe not at all. There's a report on the Star-Ledger's website in which Mikhail Prokorov, the prospective new Russian owner, may move them from the Meadowlands to the Prudential Center if Bruce Ratner, trying to sell the team even as he tries to build the Atlantic Yards project (which appears to have been all he cared about all along, the dirty cunt), can't get that deal done.

Newark is a great basketball city. The Nets had two exhibition games at The Rock that had attendance comparable to the Devils' regular-season games against non-rivals. It's so easy to figure out, a Caveman could do it! Why can't Ratner? Couldn't he make just as much money with the Nets in Newark -- and with all the questionable construction contracts floating around in New Jersey -- as he could with his Frankenstein baby in Brooklyn? Does he have to take the team I loved from 1977 to 2006 when he announced he was taking them away? Did I mention he was dirty cunt?

link

Posted by steve at 6:18 AM

November 14, 2009

This and That: November Edition

News 12

Included in these short items about the Yankees, Giants and Devils is this dark assessment of the Nets and their uncertain future.

NETS: a team that has been reduced to complete and total irrelevance. The proposed Brooklyn move has turned off fans and tuned out any real interest. Just six years ago, the Nets were coming off back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals and came within two victories of winning it all. Today, Bruce Ratner has turned the Nets back to a laughingstock. He was surely going to dump the team as soon as he got his real estate deal completed, but that story drags on and on.

Now the team is so desperate for fans they offer reversible jerseys, a no-name Net on one side and a visiting NBA star on the other. At least one is a Jason Kidd model. And he’s the visitor.

The team will likely move to Newark as early as next season. “A temporary move,” the Nets will tell you. “It was always inevitable,” says I.

link

Posted by steve at 7:13 AM

ESPN's Stein: Prokhorov wants the Nets no matter what

Atlantic Yards Report

Following up a previous mention, ESPN.com's Marc Stein writes:

It is unquestionably true that Mikhail Prokhorov's deal to buy the Nets includes a very crucial clause that enables him to walk away if the Nets' move to Brooklyn falls through. What we've heard, though, is that he's so geeked about the idea of owning an NBA team (as well as a prominent U.S.-based business) that he easily could renegotiate the price down if Brooklyn falls through and assume control of the Nets for less money even if the franchise can't extricate itself from New Jersey.

As I've suggested, whatever the lure of a new Brooklyn arena, the scarcest commodity is the team.

link

Posted by steve at 6:50 AM

November 12, 2009

LeBron’s silence on 2010 is golden for Cavs

Yahoo! Sports
by Adrian Wojnarowski

LBJ has locked his lips and thrown away the key when it comes to talking about his impending free agency.

No more flirting, no more indulging future teams and teammates and cities. No more talk about Madison Square Garden, no more about the Russian owner and Jay-Z headed for Brooklyn. Maybe it is all about the Cavs, all the time now. Only James can decide that.

article

Posted by eric at 9:51 PM

A Net Reaches Out to Fans, Wherever They Are

The New York Times
by Richard Sandomir

Nets guard Devin Harris sat at a table between the bread section and the produce aisle at a Pathmark here signing autographs and quietly representing a team that plays in New Jersey but wants to escape to Brooklyn.
...

“I’ve always been a fan of being personal with fans, to see me up close, rather than just giving money to charity,” he said, as he signed his name to the small yellow picture frames given to about 50 shoppers and fans by Western Union, a Nets sponsor that invited Harris to the supermarket, where it has a money transfer outlet.

“I just like connecting with people,” he said, a rack of Bundt cakes behind his chair.
...

Harris would be active under any circumstance, but he and his teammates must simultaneously maintain the franchise’s New Jersey fan base while building one in Brooklyn, where the team hopes to move in a few years to an arena that is part of the long-delayed Atlantic Yards project.

“Fans are in a tough situation,” Harris said. “They wonder where we’re going, to Newark or Brooklyn.”

article

NoLandGrab: Harris and his teammates must wonder, too.

Posted by eric at 11:21 AM

November 11, 2009

Times columnist Vecsey: Nets should move to Newark

Atlantic Yards Report

New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey, in a column today headlined Memo: Things Aren’t That Great Here, observes that a lot of New York sports teams aren't doing too well.

Perhaps the signal example plays hoops in New Jersey.
...

Well, moving to Newark wouldn't make the Nets as much money as moving to a new arena in Brooklyn. But there's really no public policy argument for the federal government to subsidize another arena in the New York area.

We should see the Nets in Newark in a year, with or without Prokhorov, if only as an interim location before a move to Brooklyn. And we might see them stay, but it's too soon to tell.

article

Posted by eric at 9:50 AM

November 10, 2009

New York Has Its Share of Losers. Feel Better?

The NY Times
by George Vecsey

Ever since the Yankees won the World Series, I have been receiving messages from fans around the world decrying the domination by New York and its cable television swag.

For readers who detect parochial chest-thumping from New York, I would suggest they take a careful look at the Big Picture: the records of all of New York’s professional teams.
...

Meanwhile, the Nets are still in their holding pen across the river in New Jersey, winless and close to homeless. To make it worse, one of their players, Chris Douglas-Roberts, has swine flu, and is said to be resting comfortably. Best wishes for his recovery.

The Nets are trapped in the most dismal sports location in the United States — with one football stadium under construction, another perfectly good football stadium about to be demolished, a vestigial sports arena, a grotesque amusement center and parking garages looming over the swamplands, ugly as sin.

The Nets wanted to escape to Brooklyn but their owner, Bruce C. Ratner, has been thwarted for a few years because of the economy and land-use niceties there. (Forest City Ratner, Mr. Ratner’s company, was the development partner for the Manhattan headquarters of The New York Times Company.)

Now there is a prospective buyer for the Nets, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, a Russian businessman. We will see how that plays out. The Nets really should move into the Prudential Center in Newark, to get an energy boost from a city that finally has competent leadership.

article

Posted by eric at 5:57 PM

November 3, 2009

Survey from Nets will be used for "directional purposes" (or Newark move)

Atlantic Yards Report

The Nets are trying figure out how much (and for whom) the Prudential Center in Newark is easier to get to than the Izod Center in the Meadowlands, and thus worth an interim (at least) move for the team.

So they sent a survey to people who went to exhibition games at The Rock and they're giving away a not-so-precious commodity, free tickets, as an enticement:

Please take a couple of moments to complete this survey about your experience at the Prudential Center in Newark for our Pre-season game(s). The information we gather will be used for directional purposes to offer you and the rest of our fans the most enjoyable experience at a Nets game.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:59 AM

October 29, 2009

LeBron’s future hangs over Cavs’ slow start

Yahoo! Sports
by Adrian Wojnarowski

As soon as Mikhail Prokhorov reached agreement on the $700 million purchase price for the New Jersey Nets, sources say his emissaries were relentless in securing something they believed to be of the highest importance for the Russian billionaire: a sit-down with Jay-Z.

It is rare that an owner with such a small controlling interest in a franchise could inspire such dogged pursuit, but Jay-Z is no silent partner with the Nets. Immediately, insiders understood Prokhorov’s plans to woo Jay-Z pushed far beyond the music mogul’s global celebrity and Brooklyn roots. This was part of the Russian’s ambition to become intimately involved in the summer of 2010 and the most valued free agent in professional sports history: LeBron James.

article

NoLandGrab: Or maybe the billionaire oligarch with a predilection for "models and dancers" was just wondering if Beyoncé has any single friends.

Additional coverage...

WaitingForNextYear, Cavaliers Slow Start Fueling LeBron Rumors

It was bound to happen. Shortly after the buzzer sounded and curtain fell on the Cavaliers’ morose 0-2 start to the season, it was evident that the whispers would be starting the next day. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the mainstream national media is going to see the Cavs struggle as an opportunity, and they will waste no time to pounce.

Posted by eric at 9:31 PM

The Name Game

Nets Daily

Ever since Bruce Ratner decided to buy the Nets, it has been “all about Brooklyn”. The most commonly told story about the origin of the “Brooklyn Nets” is that Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz called Ratner and practically begged him to buy the team and move it to a new arena at the same intersection the Dodgers had planned to move 50 years earlier (before abandoning the borough for Los Angeles).
...
Now, with Mikhail Prokhorov about to purchase 80% of the team and 45% of Barclays Center, the question is whether “Brooklyn Nets” is still the plan. The team, it should be noted, also registered the trademarks for “New York Nets” and “NY Nets” the same day it registered “Brooklyn Nets”.

More to the point, a number of people last week received a curious email. One of them forwarded it to us. It read:

I am consulting for the (prospective) new owners of the Nets basketball team… and am doing a quick survey.

EVERYONE’S perspective is helpful (basketball fan, non-basketball fan, NY’er, non-NY’er…)

After the team’s move to Brooklyn, which NAME would you choose?

A) Brooklyn Nets B) NY Nets C) Brooklyn “other” D) NY “other’

article

NoLandGrab: We're still diggin the "Brooklyn Nyets."

Atlantic Yards Report, With a (presumptive) new owner, is "Brooklyn Nets" name still up in the air?

Could Prokhorov want the New York moniker? Maybe. But isn't Brooklyn still a brand with huge potential (if the project ever gets over the legal and financial hurdles)?

And if Brooklyn were dropped, Borough President Marty Markowitz would positively plotz--not that the name is his call. And Forest City Ratner would have to explain away that flier they sent back in 2004.

Posted by lumi at 8:49 PM

October 28, 2009

Nets making news everywhere but on the court

AP
By Tom Canavan

There's a rich new Russian owner waiting in the wings. The new arena in downtown Brooklyn is getting closer to becoming a reality. The salary cap has been cleared to make the New Jersey Nets a player in the free agent market next summer.

Heading into the season, all the news seems to be good for the Nets, at least off the court.

This season, New Jersey's chances of making the playoffs for the first time in three years appear slim. This is a team without a star. Vince Carter, the last of the team's Big Three following the trades of Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, was traded to Orlando after last season in a deal for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie.

All-Star point guard Devin Harris is the team leader and headlines a starting lineup that will include second-year center Brook Lopez, second-year small forward Chris Douglas-Roberts, project power forward Yi Jianlian and Lee, a second-year shooting guard.

article

Posted by lumi at 4:07 AM

October 26, 2009

Lost in Translation

Though the purchase hasn't been finalized, the Russian billionaire playboy Mikhail Prokhorov has raised the hopes of NJ Nets fans — for once, someone with deep pockets might spend some serious dough to rebuild the team.

LaVanguardia.es, La pretemporada (División Atlántico)

Last we checked, "Ice Cube" is not the Spanish translation of rap mogul and Nets minority owner "Jay-Z":

Esto, unido a que cada vez está más cerca la reiteradamente retrasada fecha de mudarse a la Atlantic Yards Arena de Brooklyn, podría bastar para atraer a uno de los grandes nombres (no olvidemos que un accionista de los Nets, el rapero Ice Cube, es uno de los mejores amigos de LeBron James).

Posted by lumi at 6:31 AM

October 25, 2009

Nets-to-Newark plan draws cautious response from leading Democrats

This article indicates that there is some negotiating left to do before the Nets will be able to leave the Izod Center for the Prudential Center.

A deal between the Izod Center and Prudential Center that would see the New Jersey Nets temporarily move to Newark received a lukewarm reaction from three leading Democrats with a long history of interest in the issue, a report in the Record said.

State Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) told the newspaper the deal rests on whether the Nets will get an arena in Brooklyn, fearing that the team could move to another city outside the area. State. Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) said in the report he is concerned about keeping the Izod Center in East Rutherford open and reserving judgment until he gets more financial detail.

And Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who has campaigned for the state to close the Izod Center, said he doesn't want to see the state putting any money into the 28-year-old arena.

Under the deal, the Prudential Center would become New Jersey's prime sports venue -- home to Nets pro basketball, New Jersey Devils hockey, Seton Hall University basketball, indoor pro soccer and indoor pro lacrosse. The city of Newark would reportedly get more than $2 million in back rent from the Devils. The Izod Center would become the concert and family show hub for northern N.J.

link

Posted by steve at 8:56 AM

The Nets are coming to Newark! The Nets are coming to Newark! Maybe

The Star-Ledger
By Joan Whitlow

This article looks forward to a deal that has the New Jersey Nets coming to Newark, and especially how the deal will allow the city of Newark to recover rent owed by the New Jersey Devils.

We’ve all heard the Nets-are-coming-to-Newark rumors before. This time, there’s a really good chance that starting next season the basketball team could leave the Izod Center in the Meadowlands and play their home games in Newark.

The Nets could be here for at least two years, or longer if the team’s plan for a Brooklyn arena go from stalled, as it is right now, to definitely dead. It’s all good news, not just for Newark, but for a state that needs to keep the team on this side of the Hudson for as long as possible.

There’s more. In a now widely circulated memo from the Governor’s Office of Economic Growth, there’s a proposal to keep the Prudential Center and the Izod from beating up each other when they compete for acts. A new entity would serve as the booking agent for both. That means the Izod would stay open when the Nets leave for Newark. It sounds like a savvy economic and political solution, at least until the inevitable happens and the cost of keeping the aging Izod going will be too much of a public subsidy to bear.

The very, very good news in this deal is that Newark is supposed to get a wad of cash to cover the back rent owed by the New Jersey Devils. The hockey team is Newark’s partner in the Rock, and its presence in town has been good for the city. But the team is landlord as well as tenant in the city-owned center. The Devils control all the money and the team hasn’t paid rent in the two years the arena has been open.

link

Posted by steve at 8:32 AM

Is second-round talent second rate on title contenders? Not a chance: NBA Insider

The Plain Dealer
By Brian Windhorst

After the main article, is a section titled "Dribbles" that includes this item about the possible sale of the Nets to Mihail Prokhorov.

Last week at the annual fall NBA owners meetings in New York, the group met Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who is hoping to buy the New Jersey Nets. Prokhorov, who would become the second-richest owner in the NBA behind the Portland Trail Blazers’ Paul Allen, reportedly made a good impression and took his staff out to a $19,000 dinner to celebrate the success of the meeting. He believes he could be approved for his purchase by January.

link

Posted by steve at 8:05 AM

Less Skeptical Views of Nets' Chances in Brooklyn

There are a few items appearing today online about the Nets. These two are grouped together because they both take a "done deal" approach in predicting the future of the New Jersey Nets. The Inquisitr seems to think that a Nets arena is already being built. Nuh-uh.

The Daily News article says that a sale of the Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov "has just about sealed the team's long-delayed move to Brooklyn." Everything's done - except for small details like the sale of bonds to finance the arena, a pending decision on eminent domain from the New York Court of Appeals, and other lawsuits pending.

The Inquistr - 2009-10 NBA preview: New Jersey Nets

Sure the Nets have new ownership, or will soon, and sure they are building a new stadium in Brooklyn, although that is a process that has brought about many, a lawsuit from many different groups of people. Now this is a team that went 35-48 last season, finished third in their division, but that they did finish 28 games behind eventual division champs the Boston Celtics. Now that Vince Carter has been traded away, projections for the coming season are even worse.

...

While the Nets have been in cost cutting mode for the last few years, once the new ownership is approved and that is, supposed to happen by the end of the year, that could very well change. The new owners will have lots of incentive to build a winning team to help fill their new Brooklyn home.

Daily News - Solid season for New Jersey Nets will be key to recruiting free agents in offseason
By Julian Garcia

While the Nets don't appear to be as likely as the Knicks to land the ultimate offseason prize - LeBron James - their odds certainly got better when Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov agreed to buy the team from Bruce Ratner. That deal has just about sealed the team's long-delayed move to Brooklyn, a place that would seem to be a much more attractive landing spot for James than the team's current home in East Rutherford. In fact, a temporary move to Newark starting next season, which is likely to happen, may also help.

Posted by steve at 7:39 AM

October 24, 2009

Nets to Newark: AP, Daily News, NY Post

Here is coverage of the "Plan B" for the Nets if the proposed Atlantic Yards project falls through.

AP via Daily Record - Battling NJ sports arenas could be near agreement

A more peaceful coexistence could be on the horizon for two northern New Jersey arenas that have battled each other for entertainment bookings for the last two years.

A memo written earlier this month by a chief economic adviser to Gov. Jon Corzine outlines an agreement under which Newark's Prudential Center and the Izod Center in East Rutherford would essentially divide up sports and entertainment dates.

The plan also would open the door for the NBA's New Jersey Nets to move temporarily from the Izod Center to Newark as the team awaits a planned move to New York City's Brooklyn borough.

The memo, first detailed in The Record of Bergen County, was obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

In it, Jerold Zaro, chief of the Office of Economic Growth, characterized the competition between the arenas, which sit about 12 miles apart, as "counterproductive."

"The two venues were actually bidding against each other for various events, thereby driving up costs incurred by New Jersey in attracting events," he wrote.

...

Meanwhile, the Nets' move to Brooklyn has been delayed by lawsuits over the proposed project to build a new arena there. The team also could incur an $8 million penalty for opting out of its current lease at the Izod Center, which runs until 2013.

Nets CEO Brett Yormark and Devils chairman and managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek did not comment Friday on Zaro's memo. Authority Chairman Carl Goldberg said Thursday an agreement that would keep the two arenas in operation was within reach.

New York Post - 'Newark' Nets get called for traveling
By Fred Kerber

The Nets might be playing their home games next season at the Prudential Center in Newark while their proposed arena is built in Brooklyn. It's all contingent on Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov completing his purchase of the team, and that only will happen with a move to Brooklyn. So the Nets are considering a move to Newark -- "strongly considering," one team official said -- during construction in Brooklyn.

"We may consider an agreement to play our home games at the Prudential Center, through the time we move to our new home," said CEO Brett Yormark in a statement that claimed the Nets would be in Brooklyn in 2011-12.

For this season, at least, the Nets will remain in the Meadowlands' Izod Center, hardly the Garden of Eden.

Daily News - New Jersey Nets may move to Prudential Center until Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards project is complete
By Julian Garcia

In a statement handed out at Friday night's preseason game at St. John's, Nets CEO Brett Yormark said the Nets could abandon their outdated East Rutherford arena for the two-year-old Prudential Center in Newark while they wait for the Barclays Center to be built in Brooklyn. Yormark said that once the Brooklyn deal is finalized, "we may consider an agreement to play our home games at the Prudential Center through the time we move to our new home...in the 2011-2012 NBA season."

...

The two games in Newark averaged 14,255 fans. On Wednesday against the Knicks, there were 15,721 fans on hand, including several business associates of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who has agreed to buy 80% of the team from current owner Bruce Ratner.

The Nets have a lease at the Meadowlands that runs through the 2013 season and would have to pay an $8 million penalty if they were to leave early for anywhere other than Brooklyn. However, the Record of Hackensack reported Friday that officials from the Meadowlands and the Prudential Center were close to a deal that would result in the Nets moving to Newark next season with no penalty. In the agreement, the Meadowlands would host more entertainment events, such as concerts, in exchange for allowing the Nets to leave.

Posted by steve at 6:03 PM

The NBA x Newark: Enjoy it While You Can

Fake Hustle

This is a fan's photo essay of experiences visiting Newark's Prudential center to see the Nets vs. the Knicks. Near the end of the blog entry are despairing words about the chances of the Nets remaining in Newark.

Wrapping things up, having the Nets in Newark would really bring interest back in the waning franchise. But the NBA Lords don’t want that to happen so it’s just a pipe dream for now. Meanwhile, the people aren’t clamoring for the Barclays Center or Atlantic Yards. On another note, the traffic heading into the game was pretty bad even for Newark. Atlantic Avenue would easily be worse should people dare to drive in to the Barclays. Then again that’s why I suppose they’re building it right next to Atlantic Ave-Pacific St. Station. Oh well, it was great while it’s lasted. Now I just have to wait until spring when the league will take my team away.

NoLandGrab: Nobody can say right now what the outcome of the fight against Atlantic Yards will be. Maybe the Nets will find themselves permanently in Newark.

Posted by steve at 9:26 AM

October 23, 2009

Prudential Center, Izod Center truce appears imminent

Bergen Record
by John Brennan

Front-page news from the Bergen Record.

A truce between the Meadowlands’ Izod Center and the Prudential Center in Newark appears to be imminent — and if the deal is signed, it could have the Nets moving to Newark next fall for two seasons (or more) and the Izod Center becoming the long-term concert and family show mecca for North Jersey.

Carl Goldberg, chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, and Jerry Zaro — Governor Corzine’s economic czar — confirmed Thursday that they have been meeting for four months, at Corzine’s insistence, with Devils chief owner Jeff Vanderbeek to complete such a deal.

Those talks also have included Nets chief executive Brett Yormark in recent weeks.

Zaro said détente between the arenas is critical.

“You can’t have two venues that close together fighting each other and have that be productive for the state,” Zaro said. “The governor recognized that this was going to be a festering wound.

One wonders how having arenas in Manhattan and Brooklyn fighting each other won't become a similar "festering wound."

The Nets’ franchise is in a critical moment in its history. The team needs to win a ruling in the New York State Court of Appeals next month and sell at least $600 million in bonds for Barclays Center construction, while also breaking ground in Brooklyn before year’s end — when a crucial Internal Revenue Service tax loophole will expire. Failing any of the three, the Nets’ tentative transfer of ownership to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov would be off, and the franchise could be up for sale to the highest bidder nationwide.

If the Nets fail to move to Brooklyn, the franchise may be more attractive to local bidders if a deal to move to Newark already is in place.

article

Posted by eric at 12:18 PM

NBA seems OK with Nets playing in Newark for now

AP via Yahoo! Sports
by Brian Mahoney

The NBA doesn’t seem likely to stand in the way if the New Jersey Nets decide to move their home games to Newark.

The Star-Ledger reported Thursday that the Nets were considering playing regular-season games at the Prudential Center while an arena is being built in Brooklyn, as long as they don’t have to pay an $8 million penalty to get out of their lease at the Meadowlands.

“Where they play is their decision, subject to approval, but there’s no reason why we wouldn’t approve them playing games in a beautiful new arena,” NBA commissioner David Stern said.
...

Stern said he hasn’t had any direct conversation with the Nets, but was aware of the report of a potential move.

“It’s theirs to decide where, as they get ready to move to Brooklyn, where they play,” Stern said. “We don’t have a preference, it would be guided by their preference.”
...

Stern said NBA owners could vote to approve the sale by the end of the year. Even if the Nets play in Newark and are successful there, Stern is still convinced they will end up in Brooklyn, saying Prokhorov “intends to be an owner of the Brooklyn Nets and nothing else.”

article

Posted by eric at 11:20 AM

Nets Sale On Agenda Of N.B.A. Owners

The New York Times
by Howard Beck

The proposed sale of a controlling stake in the Nets to a Russian billionaire will be put to a vote of N.B.A. owners by the end of the year, according to Commissioner David Stern, who spoke positively Thursday about the deal.
...

Prokhorov met with a subcommittee of owners Wednesday, during the league’s board of governors meeting in Midtown Manhattan. Stern described it as a “robust and lively discussion” that focused on Prokhorov’s rise from stevedore to blue-jeans salesman to banker to metals investor to billionaire.

It was Prokhorov’s first face-to-face meeting with his prospective future partners.
...

Stern made the deal sound almost like a given when he said, “We’re looking forward to the completion of that transaction.”

Although the league’s background check is continuing, “we haven’t surfaced anything that would cause us to have a negative opinion of him,” Stern said. “But we’re not finished.”

article

NoLandGrab: Unless the vetting turns up evidence of drug-running or war crimes (and we doubt they're looking all that hard), you can bet that the NBA will be thrilled to swap Bruce Ratner for Proko.

Posted by eric at 11:01 AM

Nets eye return to Newark Prudential Center for home games

NY Daily News
by Julian Garcia

The Nets may make a pit stop in Newark on their way to Brooklyn.

After a pair of preseason games at the Prudential Center in Newark this month drew an average of 14,255 fans, Nets officials are considering having the team play its regular-season home games there instead of the Izod Center in East Rutherford, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported yesterday. The change would not occur until next season.

The Nets' lease at the Meadowlands runs through 2013 and they can opt out at any time to move to Brooklyn. However, they would have to pay pay an $8 million penalty in order to move to Newark. Unless the state waived that penalty, going to Newark is unlikely.

A spokesperson for Nets owner Bruce Ratner and CEO Brett Yormark said yesterday that they would have no comment regarding the possible temporary relocation.

article

NoLandGrab: Whaddya know? Nets' CEO Brett Yormark is on record as saying both that pre-season games in Newark wouldn't happen and that playing regular-season games there "is of no interest to us."

Posted by eric at 10:37 AM

October 22, 2009

NJ Sports and Exposition Authority Must Not Release Nets from Lease

$8 Million Penalty for Breaking Long-Term Lease Should Stand

Press Release
NJ State Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39)

Bruce Ratner isn't the only one afraid of the Nets playing in Newark.

“It would be disturbing if Governor Corzine considers allowing the Nets to move from the Meadowlands to Newark without fulfilling its contractual obligation to the Izod Center. The Nets signed the contract with the Izod Center and should be held to the terms of that contract.
...

“The state must stop playing these two world class arenas against each other and forge an agreement that would ensure that both venues are profitable. Additionally, with the Nets project at Atlantic Yards seemingly tied up by endless eminent domain lawsuits, perhaps the New Jersey Nets should consider adding New Jersey back to their road uniforms.”

link

Posted by eric at 4:23 PM

It came from the Atlantic Yards Report

For first game, Nets slash ticket and concession prices 50%--plus free M&Ms

Norman Oder, who attended last week's Nets debut in Newark, just got an email from Nets point guard Devin Harris:

I wanted to thank you for coming out to our preseason game at the Prudential Center. As the season begins, it is important that we get off to a great start and now more than ever my teammates and I need the support of fans like you.

That's why I'm bringing you this 50% Off Discount when you use Offer Code THANKS for tickets to our opening night game against Vince Carter, Dwight Howard, and the Orlando Magic on October 30th at 8pm. You will also be receiving free schedule magnets, free M&M's after the game, and 50% off all hot foods, candy, select beverages at the concession stands.

Mark your calendars: next ESDC board meeting is November 19

From an Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) press release:

The next meeting of the Board of Directors will tentatively be held on November 19, 2009 at a location to be announced closer to the time of the event.

Now I can't be certain that is when the ESDC will announce and approve final leases, contracts, and other documentation regarding Atlantic Yards, but that's probably the earliest potential date. As for the arena bonds, the Brooklyn Arena Local Development Corporation (BALDC) has to meet, as well.

Posted by eric at 4:03 PM

October 21, 2009

Rent-A-Net for Just $25K

NY Observer
by Reid Pillifant

Wow, we thought Bruce Ratner was getting creative with his plan to put Atlantic Yards' investment money into escrow for awhile.

But today there's news that Mr. Ratner will attempt to stem a sieve of losses on his New Jersey Nets franchise--the team lost $77 million last year--by renting out the team's players. For $25,000 you can get courtside tickets to 10 games and, for one hour, you can have a Nets player at your beckon call.

"It will be interesting to have an NBA player come to your birthday party or come to your Bar Mitzvah or even just coming to your house for dinner for an hour when your friends are over," Nets chief executive Brett Yormark told the AP.

article

NoLandGrab: Or how about an hour in the hot tub, a la "The Cougar?" Creepy.

Posted by eric at 11:32 PM

October 20, 2009

Aching Devin Harris pointing back to New Jersey Nets' bench

NY Daily News
by Mitch Lawrence

NO-SHOW: Prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is in New York this week to meet with NBA owners, but team officials don't expect him to visit their East Rutherford headquarters in the coming days, or attend the Knicks game at the Prudential Center. A league spokesman said that no date has been set for a vote on Prokhorov's bid to take over as majority owner for Bruce Ratner. The Russian billionaire is expected to get the 23 of 30 votes needed to be approved, as commissioner David Stern has already strongly endorsed the proposed sale.

article

Posted by eric at 6:32 PM

Padding the house at The Rock last week? Yup

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, the crowd at last Tuesday's inaugural Nets preseason game at the Prudential Center may have approached regular-season levels, but they sure weren't paying full fare.

From the Star-Ledger's report:

Arena officials said about 5,000 tickets for last week's game were distributed to community groups, schools and other local organizations by foundations and others who bought them. Another 2,100 tickets were purchased for $10, thanks to a special coupon distributed by the city of Newark. Add in the complimentary tickets handed out to sponsors and more than half those in attendance watched the game from free or almost-free seats.

A co-owner of the New Jersey Devils and the arena said it was all about exposure for the facility, which may still be an alternative if the Brooklyn move falls through but--according to Mayor Cory Booker--is now being prioritized as an interim location.

link

Related coverage...

Newark Star-Ledger, 'The rock' puts out welcome mat

"We are building our brand," Nets senior vice president Leo Ehrline said of the decision to play the games in Newark. "This is a beautiful building and it's great for our brand."

The team plays its regular season home games at the Izod Center in East Rutherford but plans to open a new arena in Brooklyn in 2012.

Though the Nets have played preseason games elsewhere in the area, the games in Newark are creating special interest. One reason is speculation the Newark games are some kind of audition to test fan interest in the team and professional basketball.

Posted by eric at 9:37 AM

October 19, 2009

Iannazzone: Newark is better for Nets

Bergen Record
by Al Iannazzone

Here's another one that eluded our normally all-encompassing grasp last week.

When Mikhail Prokhorov comes to America next week to meet with all the NBA owners and Nets' officials, someone should make sure he visits Izod Center and Prudential Center.

Someone should take the Russian billionaire and prospective Nets' owner to Newark for Wednesday's preseason game against the Knicks, to let him see people in the seats and the lively atmosphere. Someone should take Prokhorov to Izod on the same night, when the building is empty, and tell him it won't be much different when games are being played.

Then someone should ask Prokhorov: Which do you want to play in until the proposed Brooklyn arena is built potentially during the 2011-12 season? After he says The Rock, then tell him there may be a penalty if the Nets break their Izod Center lease, which expires in 2013, but if you're willing to pay, we'll start talking to the Devils and the state.

article

NoLandGrab: Of course, Prokhorov may never get the chance, since his deal to take a majority stake in the Nets is contingent upon Bruce Ratner successfully sewing up the team's relocation to Brooklyn — as much fantasy as fait accompli at this juncture.

Posted by eric at 9:30 PM

For Potential Owner, a Background Check Worthy of the K.G.B.

The NY Times
By Richard Sandomir

In order to approve the deal for billionaire Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov to purchase the NJ Nets from Bruce Ratner, the board of NBA owners will have to be willing to accept some ambiguity in the results of the financial/personal vetting process:

Mike Ackerman, a former C.I.A. senior operations officer who is the president of the Ackerman Group, a security firm, said the league would have to accept a certain amount of ambiguity in order to approve Prokhorov.

“When we vet Russian joint-venture partners for our clients, I tell them there is no black and white in Russia, it’s all gray,” he said. “Information can be had, but you have to be prepared to accept the grayness.”

Russian oligarchs are an unusual group of capitalists by Western standards.
...
The league’s investigation may never yield as complete a picture of Prokhorov as it would an American buyer. All the same, N.B.A. owners will have to decide whether the cash infusion for the Nets is worth taking a risk on a charismatic billionaire willing to bail out a franchise that has lost nearly $400 million in five years under Ratner. ...
Leagues do not reject many prospective buyers in a vote by owners. They prefer to eliminate those who fail to meet their requirements in early stages of consideration.

article

NoLandGrab: It's hard to believe that league commissioner David Stern would have publicly backed this deal if he wasn't confident that the owners would approve.

Posted by lumi at 6:59 AM

October 18, 2009

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov coming to New York to finalize purchase of New Jersey Nets

Daily News
By Aleksandra Klassen and Erin Durkin

This news story quickly devolves into speculation as to where Mikhail Prokhorov will spend his leisure time during his upcoming visit. This kind of reporting plays along with the "done deal" view promoted for so long by developer Bruce Ratner. Perhaps later News coverage will address Prokhorov's possible deal more substantively.

Brighton Beach is buzzing as Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov prepares for his first visit to New York since signing a deal to buy the NBA's New Jersey Nets.

Prokhorov, 44, will sweep into town this week to meet with Forest City Ratner and NBA officials as he finalizes a deal to pay $200 million for 80% of the Nets and 45% of developer Bruce Ratner's planned Brooklyn arena, where he wants to move the team.

Brooklyn Russians had plenty of tips for spots their motherland's richest man - who's worth some $9.5 billion - might want to check out while he's in town.

link

Posted by steve at 9:08 AM

October 16, 2009

Meet the Nets. Meet the Nets? Yes, Meet the Nets. Probably.

NYMag: The Sports Section
By Ben Mathis-Lilley

Ah, if only the Atlantic Yards saga and the downturn in the economy were actually this simple...

For a few years there, it seemed like the New Jersey Nets were definitely going to move to an arena-like jumble in Brooklyn designed by the world's most famous architect. Then the project was delayed by lawsuits filed on behalf of a group of rabble-rousing locals who meet in a dive bar. Then a bunch of complicated bets based on bogus mortgages given to random people in the suburbs of Phoenix went to hell, and no one anywhere could get money to build anything, let alone an arena and massive luxury-housing development. Then the richest man in Russia decided he would pay for everything, although the architect and his expensive fancy-pants design had already gotten canned. Also, one of the main community groups supporting the project had its credibility undermined when two twentysomething kids tricked one of their representatives into talking on-camera about how prostitutes can cheat on their taxes. So if there's anything to be taken away from the story of the Brooklyn Nets, it's probably that we have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next in the story of the Brooklyn Nets.

Nonetheless, it does look like we're now closer than ever to actually seeing ground broken for an arena at Atlantic Yards.

This article is actually from the sports section, for those who are interested in a preview about the NJ Nets roster and possible trades before the team makes the planned move to a new taxpayer-funded arena, to be built on property seized by eminent domain.

Posted by lumi at 5:51 AM

October 8, 2009

It came from the Netstoberfestophere...

Netstoberfest.jpg Nets Daily, Nets’ Pep Rally in Newark

From 3:30 to 5:30, Nets players, dancers and Sly will rally fans, sign autographs and put on a show for free. The team plays two of its three home games this preseason at “The Rock”–the third is at St. John’s. The event, normally held at the IZOD Center, will also feature a barbecue, interactive games and a shooting contest.

Examiner.com, Newark on Nets' mind

Although conventional wisdom has the Nets moving to Brooklyn after the team's official sale, the Nets have not phased out Newark completely.

Could this be a contingency plan if Brooklyn falls through?

NetsPortal.com, Nets to hold pep rally in Newark

The Nets have not wavered from their insistence that "there is no Plan B" beyond their intention to relocate to Brooklyn.

But that hasn't stopped them from scheduling three events in Newark this month.

Nets Daily, Yormark in London Seeking Euro Sponsors

Brett Yormark is in London “following up on leads with additional international brands”, reports New Jersey Newsroom. The brands weren’t identified, but with a British bank as an arena sponsor in Brooklyn and a Russian billionaire wanting to buy the team, Europe’s another marketing frontier for a team that wants to be a global brand. Yormark also detailed how new sponsors will show off their wares at IZOD.

Posted by lumi at 5:45 AM

Is Rush Limbaugh trying to play ball without a helmet?

Atlantic Yards overdeveloper and NJ Nets owner Bruce Ratner has a cameo in a story about Rush Limbaugh's bid to buy a controlling stake in the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise:

[O]wning a team is no guarantee of profit. Real-estate developer Bruce Ratner recently sold the New Jersey Nets for less than he paid for it.

article

NoLandGrab: Ratner's sale of the nets to Mikhail Prokhorov has yet to be executed and is awaiting the financing of the arena to close, the eminent domain case to be resolved and an approval vote by the other NBA owners.

Posted by lumi at 5:18 AM

October 7, 2009

Stern Not Sliding Prokhorov Through

HOOPSWORLD
by Steve Kyler

While a lot of hurdles remain to be cleared before Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov can take control of the New Jersey Nets, the biggest of those have nothing to do with the NBA and more to do with current Nets owner Bruce Ratner clearing the lawsuits trying to block his development plans in Brooklyn.

Media outlets around the world have mistakenly reported Prokhorov has having "bought" the Nets, when in fact he has issued a letter of intent to buy the team once Ratner gains clearances in Brooklyn which is likely months away. If Ratner cannot get cleared in Brooklyn, Prokhorov isn't buying the team.

The other big misconception is that the NBA is going to go easy on Prokhorov in their background investigation, something NBA commissioner David Stern addressed this week in London. Stern was clear that Prokhorov would get the same "full and intrusive" treatment as every other potential owner, suggesting some interested investors have walked away in the past after learning how in-depth the two month inquiry is saying "it's very strenuous regarding financial ability, character and business dealings."

link

NoLandGrab: It's a safe bet that Prokhorov will get every benefit of the doubt in the NBA's "full and intrusive" vetting process.

Posted by eric at 1:40 PM

Nets' Yormark on critics: "I don't care what people think"

Atlantic Yards Report

From an unironic American Way (aka in-flight magazine) article about sports marketing twins Brett and Michael Yormark, headlined Family Style:
Some men look at things as they are and ask why. But the Yormarks look at an empty hallway or a urinal and ask, “Why not get a cruise company or a urologist to sponsor it?”

article

NoLandGrab: The borrowed line from Robert F. Kennedy (after George Bernard Shaw) slumming in a piece about Yormarketing Genius was our cue to stop reading.

Posted by eric at 12:33 PM

Family Style

American Way
By Chris Tucker

Yormarks-AW.jpgFrom a profile of the NJ Nets marketing genius Brett Yormark and his twin marketing genius brother Michael:

“It’s not just about business-to-customers these days but business-to-business,” Brett says of the effort. “We want to use the Nets to create interconnectivity between our partners, between sponsors and companies who hold season tickets.”

As for confidence, it’s evident in the way the brothers handle criticism. Both have drawn fire for alleged over-commercialization of their venues. Brett has been dogged by bloggers adamantly opposing the Nets’ move to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center.

article

NoLandGrab: The genius's devotion to "interconnectivity between... partners" explains why sponsorships are up while the team and attendance are down.

Posted by lumi at 5:23 AM

October 5, 2009

Nets: Brooklyn move is still Plan A

Bergen Record
by John Brennan

The Nets have not wavered from their insistence that “there is no Plan B” beyond their intention to relocate to Brooklyn.

But that hasn’t stopped them from scheduling three events in Newark this month.

The first, announced Monday, is a “Netstoberfest” celebration at the entrance plaza outside of the Prudential Center on Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

That will be followed by an Oct. 13 preseason game against the Boston Celtics and an Oct. 21 preseason game against the Knicks, with both games being held at “The Rock.”

“We’re promoting our preseason games in Newark,” Nets spokesman Barry Baum replied when asked why the rally is being held neither in Brooklyn nor their current home of East Rutherford.
...

NBA Commissioner David Stern told The Times of London on the eve of Tuesday’s preseason game in London between Chicago and Utah that his office would conduct a background check of Prokhorov that was “full and intrusive.”

“It’s very strenuous regarding financial ability, character and business dealings,” Stern said.

article

NoLandGrab: Will the NBA's background check be conducted by AKRF?

Posted by eric at 8:29 PM

October 4, 2009

As Nets add sponsors, the ticket giveaways continue; Netstoberfest on October 7 in Newark

Atlantic Yards Report

On the one hand, it looks like the Nets keep luring more sponsors. The AP reports:
The New Jersey Nets have renewed deals with 20 corporate sponsors and signed agreements with 10 new partners in moves that will generate $4.5 million annually.

On the other hand, ticket revenues plummeted last year by nearly a third, thanks to discounts and giveaways, and it looks like the pattern will continue.

After all, as the advertisement (right) in the Newark Star-Ledger shows, the Nets and the newspaper have agreed to a deal in which $100 buys four preseason tickets with a face value of $25, plus four hot dogs and soda, and four ticket vouchers to a regular season game.

That's cheaper than a first-run movie.

...

Meanwhile, as a prelude to the two exhibition games at the Prudential Center in Newark, the Nets are sponsoring a Netstoberfest (why not just a "Nets Octoberfest"?) on October 7 outside the facility.

The Nets' marketing arsenal can adjust to any situation. In other words, should the Nets happen to relocate to Newark, whether temporarily or permanently, expect more such fests.

And should the team move to Brooklyn, expect a Netstoberfest (and more) in Prospect Heights.

link

Posted by steve at 8:04 AM

Why the Russians are coming: Billionaire Prokhorov wants more than the Nets

Daily News
By Alexander Nazaryan

The author of this opinion piece feels that Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov would use a purchase of the New Jersey Nets to clean up his image. There is a suggestion that Prokhorov could take steps to do better community relations than developer Bruce Ratner - by suggesting that he follow almost the same approach as Ratner.

But in buying the Nets, Prokhorov could ameliorate the image of the profligate oligarch by reaching out to Brooklyn - and not only to its Russian population. Several prominent African-American community groups support the Nets arena. Prokhorov can recognize them by offering jobs to residents of nearby housing projects and awarding contracts to minority-owned businesses. And he can smooth the feathers of opposition groups by striking a more conciliatory tone than co-owner Bruce Ratner.

link

NoLandGrab: Except for temporary construction jobs, the only job creation that might be expected any time soon from the proposed Atlantic Yards project would be part-time jobs connected to the arena. As for being more conciliatory to the opposition, that would really require a reworking of the project with elected officials like Council Member Tish James. It would not appear that Prokhorov wants to change anything about the development. In short: There's not much left to offer anybody but empty promises.

Posted by steve at 7:50 AM

October 3, 2009

Sporting Strategy

New Jersey & Company
By Joseph Dobrian

This article features Nets President and CEO, Brett Yormark. Of course the focus is on the marketing of the Nets, but sometimes marketing can collide with reality.

This boilerplate quote from developer Bruce Ratner mentions "an arena and residential community" even though nobody can say when or if most of the residential units will be constructed. And, oh yes, let's try to connect the proposed Atlantic Yards land grab with the Dodgers.

“We are committed to bringing the Nets to Brooklyn and building an arena and residential community that will make the people of Brooklyn and the entire city proud,” says Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies and principal owner of Nets Sports and Entertainment, LLC. “There’s a tremendous amount of excitement about the Nets coming to Brooklyn. For the first time since the Dodgers left in 1957, Brooklyn will have a major professional sports team to call its own. Our goal will be to provide our fans with a great experience in what will be the best arena in the world.”

And this paragraph says that Yormark ought to repeat his marketing performance of the last few years in Brooklyn, even though that period has been marked by plummeting game attendance and millions of dollars in losses for the Nets.

Most observers predict that if Nets’ president and CEO Brett Yormark can repeat in Brooklyn the marketing success he’s had in New Jersey, the borough could enjoy a level of regional prestige that it hasn’t seen in more than half a century. Many local businesses hope that Atlantic Yards will bring in more upscale residents as well as make the borough a magnet for fun-seekers throughout the Tri-State area.

The article reads like a marketer interviewing a marketer for marketers. Yormark fans should enjoy it.

link

Posted by steve at 8:46 AM

October 2, 2009

How the Prokhorov deal began well before March: Goldman banker Joe Ravitch left by then

Atlantic Yards Report

Surprisingly, a Bruce Ratner claim doesn't seem to add up.

Eliot Brown explained yesterday in the Observer how Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner got in touch with Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov:
His sit-down with Mr. Prokhorov came in mid-July, Mr. Ratner said, during the one time he flew out to Russia to meet with him. “We hired Goldman Sachs,” to search for investors in the team, Mr. Ratner said. Mr. Prokhorov “was in the newspapers, he was someone who was interested in buying a team. So Joe Ravitch at Goldman approached him, and then I flew over there and spent three or four hours over dinner with him, at his house.”

However, that sequence had to have begun well before July. Ravitch left Goldman in early March, according to Deal Journal.

article

Posted by eric at 11:59 AM

Media kingpin Semel wanted Nets

NY Post

Terry Semel, the former boss at Warner Bros. and Yahoo!, was the secret runner-up in the battle to buy the Nets.

Brooklyn-born Semel was beaten at the buzzer by Russian playboy billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who offered to pay for the arena being built in Brooklyn as well as the team in a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But sources say Semel, who divides his time between New York and Los Angeles, had hoped to be at most of the games as the new owner.

A friend of Semel -- who has concentrated on running his investment company Windsor Media after leaving Yahoo! in 2007 -- told Page Six: "Terry loves basketball and saw this as a great way to give something back to Brooklyn."

article

NoLandGrab: Thanks, but no thanks, Terry.

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

Out of Bounds

The Lamron
by Chris Caggiano

The student newspaper of the State University of New York at Geneseo gets in on the Atlantic Yards action.

Along with Prokhorov's suspected investment, Barclays Bank of London has offered to pay $400 million over the next 20 years to secure the naming rights of the arena. These two sources of foreign investment may be a last ditch effort by Ratner to avoid the collapse of the entire project.

Money is not the only issue preventing the Nets from leaving New Jersey; many attempts are being made to stop the construction. Opponents have argued that Ratner is not planning to build what he originally intended, and that his company's use of the eminent domain statute to remove current property owners in the proposed construction site is unethical. Courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of Ratner and his company Forest City Enterprises, but a final appeal case is scheduled to occur in mid-October.

article

NoLandGrab: How is it that a student journalist reporting from Geneseo gets more of the story straight than do some "professional" journalists reporting right here in NYC? Maybe there's hope for the future of journalism yet.

Posted by eric at 10:07 AM

October 1, 2009

NY Lawyers Working Deal to Bring NBA to Brooklyn

Hogan, Simpson Advise Acquisition of Nets' Stake by Russian Businessman

New York Lawyer

While Bruce Ratner had to go hat in hand to various governmental entities in New York in order to keep his Atlantic Yards dream alive, he (and would-be Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov) apparently have no trouble paying lawyers.

Nets Sport Entertainment and Forest City Ratner Companies were advised by a New York-based Simpson Thacher & Bartlett team including partners Eric Swedenburg with associates Rhett A. Van Syoc and Daniel Layfield, mergers and acquisitions; partner Patrick Ryan, banking & credit; and partner Gary Mandel with associates Noah Beck and Aaron Cohen, tax.

Hogan & Hartson represented Mikhail Prokhorov and the Onexim Group. The Hogan group was led by London partner Todd Schafer, banking, energy, and telecommunications; with New York partners Alexander Johnson and Maureen Hanlon, mergers and acquisitions; Mitchell Lubart, real estate; and Mark Weinstein, media, sports and entertainment.

article [registration required]

Posted by eric at 10:20 AM

NJ Nets land 10 new sponsors, renew 20 others

Associated Press, via USA Today
By Tom Canavan

Atlantic Yards overdeveloper Bruce Ratner really knows how to ruin a good thing. If you're against the project you now gotta think twice before eating Pirate Booty? A-a-a-a-argh!!

PirateBooty.gif

The New Jersey Nets have renewed deals with 20 corporate sponsors and signed agreements with 10 new partners in moves that will generate $4.5 million annually.

Nets chief executive officer Brett Yormark announced the signings on Wednesday, a day after the NBA team opened its training camp.

The renewals, which include deals with major sponsors McDonald's, Wrigley's, Vonage, LG, and Canon, are worth more than $3 million annually, Yormark said.

The 10 new sponsorship agreements with Mars, Zappos.com, LTJ Arthur, MetroPCS, CURE Auto Insurance, Electronics Expo, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Hotelplanner.com, Lucky Strike Lanes and Pirate's Booty snack food are worth $1.5 million per year.

Yormark expects to announce deals with five or more new sponsors in the next two weeks.

article

Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

September 30, 2009

Nets ticket revenues down nearly one-third last season

Bergen Record
by John Brennan

The New Jersey Nets made a big splash last week with the announcement of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s intention to buy controlling interest in the franchise.

But in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released late Friday afternoon, the news was much grimmer: Revenue from Nets ticket sales declined by nearly one-third last season.

The filing — detailing the bottom line of Nets Sports and Entertainment LLC — demonstrated that while announced Nets attendance figures were similar in 2007-08 and 2008-09, the ticket sale revenue nosedived to $25.9 million from $37.4 million.

“That’s a huge drop, and it wouldn’t be all because of the economy by any means,” said Jim Grinstead, editor of the Revenues from Sports Ventures newsletter.

Grinstead said it was more typical for NBA teams to see ticket sale revenues to decline about 10 to 12 percent in 2008-09, because of a need to discount tickets to entice cash-strapped customers to games.

The Nets balanced most of the ticket revenue decline with cuts in player salaries, marketing and other expenses — but still finished with an operating loss of $68.6 million in 2008-09.

article

NoLandGrab: The bloom appears to be off the Yormarketing Genius.

Related coverage...

SportsBusiness Daily, Nets Ticket Sales Revenue Drops By Almost One-Third In '08-09 [subscription required]

Posted by eric at 10:48 AM

The Nets Offseason: In Their Own Words

Nets are Scorching [ESPN]
By Mark Ginocchio

While the Nets have only made a handful of roster moves since the end of the 2008-09 NBA season, their summer has certainly been an eventful one. With training camp kicking off this week, NAS is looking back at the events of the past three months, using the Nets own words to tell the tale.

Excerpts related to the Atlantic Yards saga:

July 23 – Anonymous team official on the possibility of Bruce Ratner selling the team (Star-Ledger): “Bruce has looked into several options. He’s had offers, he’s made counteroffers, and at some point in time - probably by the time the season gets under way - something will transpire.
...
September 9 – Bruce Ratner on the new Barclays Arena renderings (release): “The Barclays Center will quickly become an iconic part of the Brooklyn landscape. The design is elegant and intimate and also a bold architectural statement that will nicely complement the surrounding buildings and neighborhoods.”

September 9 – Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn on the renderings (release): “It’s all lipstick on a corrupt pig, window-dressing on a boondoggle.”
...
September 22 – Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov on his interest in buying the Nets (blog post): “For our Onexim group the realization of this very lucrative business project, whose participation was made possible by the world crisis (never in history have foreigners owned an NBA club), is another interesting sports development.”

September 23 – David Stern on the announcement that Prokhorov was buying the Nets (press release): “We are looking forward to the Nets’ move to a state-of-the-art facility in Brooklyn, with its rich sports heritage. Interest in basketball and the NBA is growing rapidly on a global basis and we are especially encouraged by Mr. Prokhorov’s commitment to the Nets and the opportunity it presents to continue the growth of basketball in Russia.”

link

Posted by lumi at 5:53 AM

With distractions afoot, Nets want to stay focused on court

NY Daily News
By Julian Garcia

The Nets can't afford to get distracted.

But if they are willing to let their minds wander, there are plenty of options. There is the Russian billionaire who could be the new owner of the team, the possibility of being one of the major spenders in next summer's free agent market or the chance that Lawrence Frank and team executives Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe are all in their final seasons.
...
Point guard Devin Harris knows that one of his biggest challenges could be keeping his teammates focused while outsiders continue to bring up current owner Bruce Ratner's deal with $9 billion man Mikhail Prokhorov, the franchise's pending move to Brooklyn or 2010 free agency, all of which will be hot topics.

Harris didn't dismiss those issues.

"The funny thing is we help ourselves more by doing better," said Harris. "We attract free agents if we do better as a team right now. So if we keep ourselves more in the present it will help us in the future."

article

Posted by lumi at 5:46 AM

September 29, 2009

Prudential Center Hosts Nets and Devils Open Season

The Star-Ledger
By "Inside Jersey Staff"

Though Nets owner Bruce Ratner would rather the team be playing in Brooklyn, this month the gravity of the Prudential Center in Newark has temporarily pulled the team into its orbit:

Newark's Prudential Center will be a true Mecca for sports fans this month. The new home for the New Jersey Devils hockey team will host two preseason New Jersey Nets basketball games: The Nets will tip off against the 2008 NBA champ Boston Celtics on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. and take on their rival neighbors, the New York Knicks, on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $10 to $500, and are available through ticketmaster.com.

Typically, the Nets play their home games at East Rutherford's Izod Center, but their owner, real estate developer Bruce Ratner, has been planning amid much controversy to relocate them to the Barclays Center, part of the trouble-plagued Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. Given that the Izod Center's future has been in question since the Devils' exit in 2007, the Nets' two preseason games in Newark will no doubt allow the NBA team to test the water at the Prudential Center as a possible temporary home before the completion of the Barclays Center.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:30 AM

September 27, 2009

Questions still remain about prospective NJ Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov

The Star-Ledger
By Dave D'Alessandro

This rather in-depth look at Mikhail Prokhorov's background gives reasons why those who are overjoyed at the oligarch's offer for the Nets should not yet see transfer of Nets ownership as a done deal.

But there are incidents and business practices in Prokhorov’s past that need to be examined, because while the 6-7 Russian tycoon may be astute when it comes to basketball, nobody knows how he is at hurdling, or sprinting, against the clock.

The hurdles here, after all, aren’t like the ones he has vaulted so easily back home, where a favorable relationship with a repressive government can bury your competitors and make you a billionaire before you’re 32.

“The question arises, at least from here in Moscow: Does the NBA commissioner think it’s his duty to do what it considered due diligence?” asked John Helmer, a former Carter Administration official who has run an acclaimed business news service in Russia since 1989. “And in the United States — particularly in New York State — you have to believe that an oligarch is open to investigation.”

The investigation will be conducted by NBA commissioner David Stern’s own legal team, but given the league’s desperate need for investors with deep pockets who can also expand their fan base into new markets, cynics would suggest that Prokhorov will get the feather-duster treatment.

The government, meanwhile, will likely conduct an elaborate search through the byzantine maze of Prokhorov’s wealth and power for something that might create doubt about his suitability to own a professional sports team.

Can he hold up under the scrutiny of whatever agency has oversight responsibility? Will the overseers determine that it’s not the size of his bank balance, but where the money comes from, that bears closer inspection? Would an examination from the Treasury Department — and its Committee On Foreign Investment In The United States — turn up how much is actually in Prokhorov’s portfolio, and if he is borrowing for the Nets deal, what the Russian is offering for security?

And can Prokhorov overcome these hurdles and generate additional funding for Barclays Center by Dec. 31, which is the day Bruce Ratner’s Brooklyn dream turns into a pumpkin if the two partners cannot secure the financing for the $800 million arena?

link

Posted by steve at 11:12 AM

Tricky times ahead for New York Nyets

Newsday
By Neil Best

From the viewpoint of only what is best for the Nets franchise, this article only expresses concern that the proposed Atlantic Yards project might not happen and scuttle any deal with Mikhail Prokhorov.

Could all this just be an elaborate hoax designed to make us care about the Nets and their glacial move to Brooklyn?

Because face it, Mikhail Prokhorov seems too good to be true for a team that has toiled in the shadows of New York-area sports since it dumped another 6-7 guy with flare: Julius Erving.

The tall tales emerging this week of the Russian deca-billionaire and international man of mystery offer elements of everything from "Entourage'' to "The Sopranos,'' all wrapped in a nation known for centuries as one of Earth's great enigmas.

For the sake of argument, let us assume he is for real, the richest man in Russia spending a pittance of his estimated wealth - $200 million - to buy 80 percent of the Nets and partner with current owner Bruce Ratner in his planned new arena (and real estate development) in Brooklyn.

If such a man were on the verge of purchasing the Yankees or Giants or even Knicks, there would be much hand-wringing over what an overseas oligarch might mean for a beloved, traditional franchise.

But the Nets are such an afterthought that this can only be viewed as a good thing for the NBA, whose owners still must approve the deal but seem unlikely to discourage foreign dough.

...

Even Prokhorov must answer to political realities and complexities in Russia, a factor that might have been reflected in what at first seemed to be a peculiar post on his blog upon agreeing to the Nets deal.

In it he strangely linked buying the Nets to improving Russian basketball by tapping into U.S. training methods. The strategy became clearer when Russian legislators hammered him for spending money overseas.

"I can't consider this action as anything other than unpatriotic,'' Aslambed Aslakhanov, a member of the upper parliament chamber's sports committee, said via the state news agency RIA Novosti.

"We also have talented children here, but sports isn't being developed. They're not trying in order for us to return to our former sports ranking of the best in the world.''

That was a hint that there are potential hurdles to come, from lingering political opposition to the new arena in Brooklyn to who knows what sort of pressure back home, where Russia remains proud and protective of its athletic fortunes.

Will the story turn out to be too good to be true after all? Please, nyet.

link

Posted by steve at 10:55 AM

Politi: For NJ Nets, Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov only latest in string of wacky owners

The Star-Ledger
By Steve Politi

This article sees Bruce Ratner's attempt to sell the Nets as yet another episode in ownership that hasn't worked out well for the franchise. This item concludes with the most recent history of the Nets as unfondly remembered, and the future seen as dim.

There were two trips to the NBA Finals but, finally, no new home in Newark. Ratner is an easy target now, but it was Katz who ultimately sold the team to a developer who made his intentions clear from the beginning.

Now, it is Ratner struggling to complete his goal for the team, to turn the Brooklyn Nets into the linchpin for Atlantic Yards. Like nearly everyone else who has owned this team, he has lost hundreds of millions in the process.

Prokhorov is his bailout plan, and he’ll only come aboard if the move to Brooklyn is complete. He has a history of spending whatever it takes to build a winner with his basketball team in Russia, but can a man from eight time zones away really be the answer for this team?

“Your guess is as good as my mine,” said David Gerstein, one of the Secaucus Seven who is still a small investor in the team. “I wish them luck. It could be a great thing for the team and the NBA.”

It could be. Or it could be an unprecedented disaster that involves two continents, millions of rubles and whispers of involvement from the Kremlin. When it comes to Nets owners, the trend is usually down.

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Posted by steve at 9:44 AM

Brooklyn, Meet Your Oligarch

New York Times
By Clifford J. Levy

What to make of this item about Mikhail Prokhorov's possibly buying the New Jersey Nets from Bruce Ratner? It's apparently meant to be humorous.

This part might be a howler if the proposed Atlantic Yards project ever went through any community review, but it's intentionally been designated a state project so that city review and zoning don't apply. Therefore, the irony is definitely missing.

Still, Mr. Prokhorov, who is to control the Nets and a large minority stake in the arena, may have culture shock when he grasps what it takes to complete a project in New York City. Environmental impact statements? Community board input? Appellate court review? Can’t we get the thumb’s up from the local chieftain and get it done?

In Russia, where governance has an authoritarian cast and civil society is less than robust, it is unusual for a project to be significantly delayed or killed because of community opposition. (On the other hand, work is often hamstrung by financial malfeasance or bureaucratic incompetence.)

“Things are still done in a very simple way in Moscow,” said Alec Brook-Krasny, a Moscow native who emigrated at age 30 in 1989 and now represents Brighton Beach in the New York State Assembly. “Whoever is the main person in the neighborhood, the main official in the city, that person makes the decisions. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s the final decision, and the community has no say.”

And no thanks to trying to stereotype the opposition to the proposed Atlantic Yards project:

Not to overly generalize, but those residents tend to be a liberal, touchy-feely bunch. (During the 2000 presidential election, I recall, there was a public forum in Park Slope to debate the merits of the candidates. It was titled, “Gore or Nader?,” as if the idea of even considering voting for George W. Bush was preposterous.)

The people like organic food and bicycles. They compost. They fuss over their children. They don’t miss living in Manhattan. You get the idea.

You can safely read this while eating your morning cereal without any risk of getting milk nose.

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NoLandGrab: This AY thing is, like, making me so tense. I'm gonna take a bong hit. Then I'll go out to the park and throw a frisbee with my dog, Sky.

Posted by steve at 9:20 AM

September 26, 2009

Ten questions: Prokhorov-Nets deal

ESPN.com
By Chris Sheridan

Click through to read the whole thing, but here are the most relevant Atlantic Yard-related questions of ten posed in this speculative article.

2. Will the sale go through?

That's a big, big question, because the Nets sale is contingent on Ratner's obtaining financing and control of the land for his mammoth Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn by the end of the year.

Part of the answer will come in the next few weeks, as Ratner and the Nets have a date in the New York State Court of Appeals on Oct. 14; a group opposing the Brooklyn project is seeking a reversal of its previous court loss in which it challenged eminent domain procedures used to acquire land for the project. The Nets are confident of victory, saying they are 25-0 in court cases related to the Brooklyn project, and they note that the U.S. Supreme Court has already declined to hear the appeal from the group fighting Ratner.

In the Nets' eyes, they're entering the bottom of the ninth with a sizeable lead.

3. So if the Nets win in court on Oct. 14, that's the last hurdle?

Not exactly. The group opposing the Brooklyn project, "Develop Don't Destroy," has indicated it will seek other avenues to delay the start of construction through the end of the year, because if Ratner and the Nets don't sink a shovel into the ground in Brooklyn by Dec. 31, they will lose access to tax-exempt bonds that Ratner is planning to use to finance a portion of the 22-acre, $4.9 billion development. The law that created those bonds has been rewritten, but the Nets project was grandfathered in with the caveat that their special exemption expires Dec. 31.

After initially predicting a 2007 opening, the Nets are now projecting their $800 million Brooklyn arena will be ready for the 2011-12 season.

4. Why would Prokhorov target the Nets from among the available franchises in the league?

Unlike the Charlotte Bobcats and Memphis Grizzlies, both of whom are locked into long-term leases tied to the construction of their recently built arenas, the Nets are desirable because of the size of the market they play in, because the team is on a year-to-year lease at the Meadowlands (and therefore is potentially portable) and because the upside of relocating to Brooklyn -- becoming a major threat to the Knicks' hold on the New York metropolitan area's fan base -- is so huge.

Also, Ratner was so eager to make a deal to secure additional financing for the Atlantic Yards project, because of the tightening of the credit markets, that he yielded to many of Prokhorov's terms in order to speed up the deal. Remember, Ratner paid $300 million when he bought his share of the Nets. This sale places the franchise's overall value at $250 million, which means Ratner is taking a substantial haircut.

7. How will the other owners react to having a free-spending Russian billionaire in their midst?

Will his checks bounce? Forget all the other stuff about background checks, personal skeletons and/or questionable connections. Is his wealth verifiable? And how much of it is in cold, hard cash? The legitimacy of the money behind this deal is the No. 1 question the 29 other owners will have, and NBA bylaws require that only three-quarters of the owners approve the sale.

And let's be real here: The more frugal of the league's owners will be especially welcoming to any prospective owner who would try to spend his way to the top and pay the luxury tax, since that money is divided among the non-taxpaying owners. With Mark Cuban and James Dolan both a lot less free-spending than they once were, the owners would like nothing more than to bring aboard a guy with extremely deep pockets and little conscience when it comes to opening up his wallet. (When CSKA Moscow's basketball team, partly owned by Prokhorov, won the Euroleague title in 2008, the players in the victorious locker room sprayed each other with Magnum bottles of Cristal champagne that cost $650 apiece.)

9. What happens to the Prokhorov deal if Ratner is unable to break ground in Brooklyn by Dec. 31?

The deal would be off; the team would still be Ratner's, it would go back on the market, and there would immediately be a franchise as a candidate to relocate to Seattle (if a new arena deal is approved), Anaheim, Kansas City, St. Louis or some other city with designs on getting an NBA team.

The Nets have never had a strong fan base in New Jersey and routinely play before thousands of empty seats. Ratner, tired of absorbing millions in operating losses annually on the Nets, would presumably find another buyer. And as noted above, the Nets are singularly attractive among franchises with the "For Sale" sign posted because they are not locked into a long-term lease.

10. So, does the Prokhorov deal go down, or not?

When a deal this big is contingent on getting something built in New York, it's inherently tenuous. There are tons of wonderful architecture and infrastructure around New York, nearly all of it built decades and decades ago. Just ask the people who have been waiting 50 years for the Second Avenue subway to be built. You'll find them by the thousands packed like sardines on the Lexington Avenue subway line, the only one serving Manhattan's densely populated Upper East Side.

Unless your name is Donald Trump or you own a baseball team, it takes forever to get stuff built in New York, and all it takes is one or two temporary restraining orders from one or two judges sympathetic to Ratner's opponents to grind the process to a halt and possibly keep that first shovel from going into the ground by Dec. 31.

With that in mind, we should call this one a 50-50 proposition. But Ratner has overcome a ton of hurdles already on the Atlantic Yards project, so we'll tilt the odds in his favor: 60-40 that the big Russian has his hands on the Nets by the time the 2009-10 season ends.

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NoLandGrab: Comparing a City project like the Second Avenue Subway with the State's proposed Atlantic Yards project doesn't exactly lend credibility to this article's predictions, but it does suggest that, as usual, Ratner's done deal is anything but. Also, the Nets won't be in court. The ESDC, tool of developer Bruce Ratner, will be in court. October 14th will be the date arguments are presented and it's up to the Court as to when a decision will be made.

Posted by steve at 5:49 PM

Nets principal owner believes sale of club means new home for NBA club

The Canadian Press
By Tom Canavan

Mikhail Prokhorov's guest for dinner in Moscow on that July evening was Bruce Ratner, an American real estate developer - and owner of an NBA team.

Ratner, the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, needed money to build his US$4.9 billion vision dubbed Atlantic Yards, which would include a new $800 million Brooklyn home for the team. Prokhorov, a lover of the game who owns a share of a successful Russian pro team, also had a dream: To own a team in the NBA, home of the world's best basketball.

It would take some of his $9.5 billion fortune to get it done.

...

There are three obstacles that stand in the way: Completing the tax-exempt bond deal, dealing with the challenge to the use of eminent domain, and getting the sale of the team approved by three-quarters of the NBA's 30 teams, something that seems likely with commissioner David Stern on board.

Ratner is confident about getting the bonds.

"We feel quite good about that because the markets have returned," he said, adding that he is meeting with rate agencies and expects to have everything done within three weeks.

New York's Court of Appeals is to hear an eminent domain challenge to the project next month. Ratner said the project is on solid legal ground.

"You have to have a situation where the court of appeals would have to reverse the eminent domain laws that have been around a very long time and that have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's not very likely," he said.

But Daniel Goldstein, spokesman for the opposition group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, said that even if Ratner won the suit that he will not be able to break ground in 2009 because the properties he needs to demolish won't come into his possession until next year.

Goldstein also disputed that the court is being asked to reverse eminent domain laws, noting that the appeals court is being asked to rule upon the meaning of public use as it exists in the New York State Constitution.

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Posted by steve at 7:40 AM

Let’s Make a Deal Ratner Regains Momentum with Blockbuster Sale

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli

This article is generally enthusiastic over the sale of the Nets to Russian oligarch, Mikhail Prokhorov, and doesn't take a close look at the particulars to see that developer Bruce Ratner is unloading the Nets for cheap.

Russian billionaire industrialist Mikhail Prokhorov is — all the way to Downtown Brooklyn, where Bruce Ratner’s vision of the Atlantic Yards Development Project is suddenly coming into focus again.

News of the international mogul’s intent to purchase a controlling interest in Ratner’s New Jersey Nets has once again piqued local interest in the potential arrival of our borough’s first major pro sports franchise since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles following the 1957 season.

For better of worse, depending on which side of the Atlantic Yards argument you happen to be on, the influx of cash and media attention is exactly what Ratner needed to remind everyone that he is still determined to make the Brooklyn Nets a reality.

...

So is this just the latest burst of excitement surrounding the project? Or is it the final push Ratner needs to make the Brooklyn Nets a reality?

Only time will ultimately tell, but it seems now more than ever that all the delays, court battles and logistical issues surrounding the potential move are being pushed aside once and for all – for better or worse.

Included is an unquestioned quote from Ratner who makes the usual claims of job creation and economic development, even though a Nets arena alone will be a loss for the city and a cost benefit analysis of the entire proposed Atlantic Yards project has never been done by the ESDC, tool of the developer.

“We are one step closer to achieving our goals of creating much-needed jobs and economic development for Brooklyn and the city,” Ratner said.

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Posted by steve at 7:21 AM

Russian’s Stake Gives Ratner a Safety Net

New York Timess
By Ken Belson and Richard Sandomir

Since buying the Nets in 2004 and immediately planning to move them from New Jersey to a new arena in Brooklyn, Bruce C. Ratner has entertained a tantalizing, if risky, vision of marrying basketball to real estate.

But after absorbing enormous financial losses and enduring lengthy regulatory and legal delays, Ratner, a real estate developer, needed a safety net to preserve part of that dream. He has found it in the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov, who earlier this week announced his agreement to buy 80 percent of the team and 45 percent of Barclays Center, the Nets’ proposed home in Brooklyn.

Although Prokhorov’s cash investment was announced at $200 million, he will also finance future Nets losses, up to $60 million, that are expected to accumulate before the move to Brooklyn, according to an executive involved in the transaction. The team has reported nearly $400 million in pretax net losses for its dozens of investors, including $129 million by Forest City Enterprises, Ratner’s Cleveland-based parent company.

Prokhorov will also be responsible for 80 percent of the $207 million in debt the team holds if the sale goes forward. The transaction requires the approval of 23 of the 30 National Basketball Association owners, and is contingent on Ratner’s obtaining financing for the arena and control of all the land required for it by Dec. 31.

Prokhorov’s arrival helps Ratner do what he ultimately wants most: build the delayed arena, the centerpiece of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards commercial and residential complex near downtown Brooklyn.

He appears to be getting a good deal. Ratner and his investors paid $300 million for the team in 2004 and assumed salary obligations of another $60 million. Prokhorov’s purchase of an 80 percent stake in the team values its equity at about $150 million; add the $207 million in debt, and the franchise’s value has barely budged.

This article goes on to give further details on the implications of the deal between Prokhrov and Ratner. Also covered is the implications for possible foreign ownership of other sports franchises.

link

This article appeared in print and was updated later on line. Commentary was forthcoming for both versions of the article from the Atlantic Yards Report:

Did Prokhorov get his shares of the team and arena at a two-thirds discount? It looks that way, reports the Times, but the deal's not simple

First, issues raised by the first version::

A little more than two days later, the major media are waking up to the notion that the agreement between Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov might be a bargain for the oligarch, despite Ratner calling it "a great deal."

In an article headlined Russian’s Stake in Nets Seems to Be a Bargain, the New York Times reports:
Mikhail D. Prokhorov’s $200 million investment for 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the team’s proposed Barclays Center is just one-third of what his share of the team and arena should be worth, according to Michael K. Ozanian, the national editor of Forbes, which compiles an annual list of professional team valuations.

Ozanian, in response to my query, explained that he valued the Nets at $295 million and the arena, as reported, at $800 million. Prokhorov's share of the team would be worth $236 million and his share of the arena at $360 million.

...

"What we don’t know of course is the amount Prokhorov has promised to invest in the team as part of the deal," Ozanian explained. Assuming the investment was zero, he said, Prokhorov made the purchase at one-third fair value.

...

True, the team has floundered, its best players are gone and it plays to thin crowds in New Jersey. Ratner and his investors in the Nets have also lost nearly $400 million since buying the club. But few teams in recent years have been sold at such a steep discount.

The later version of the Times article brought answers:

The Times updates its math: add $60 million in losses and $160 million+ in debt for Prokhorov, but the arena still looks like a deal

The New York Times has updated its article suggesting that Mikhail Prokhorov got his Nets and Atlantic Yards investment at a two-thirds discount, now calling the investment a "safety net" for Bruce Ratner.

I and others had pointed out that financing for losses and debt would have to be factored in.

The Times reports:
Although Prokhorov’s cash investment was announced at $200 million, he will also finance future Nets losses, up to $60 million, that are expected to accumulate before the move to Brooklyn, according to an executive involved in the transaction. The team has reported nearly $400 million in pretax net losses for its dozens of investors, including $129 million by Forest City Enterprises, Ratner’s Cleveland-based parent company.

Prokhorov will also be responsible for 80 percent of the $207 million in debt the team holds if the sale goes forward. The transaction requires the approval of 23 of the 30 National Basketball Association owners, and is contingent on Ratner’s obtaining financing for the arena and control of all the land required for it by Dec. 31.

...He appears to be getting a good deal. Ratner and his investors paid $300 million for the team in 2004 and assumed salary obligations of another $60 million. Prokhorov’s purchase of an 80 percent stake in the team values its equity at about $150 million; add the $207 million in debt, and the franchise’s value has barely budged.

...

Prokhorov will be responsible for paying off 45% of the arena, which in total might be worth $800 million.

Does that mean he gets the package at two-thirds off? The Times is no longer quoting Forbes editor Michael Ozanian to that effect.

Rather, the Times quotes a consultant:
“The Russian is taking on a lot more risk for the potential of greater reward,” said Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp, a Chicago-based sports consultant. “He’s getting a good deal on the team, but he’s taking on a great deal of risk with the arena and with debt.”

Well, so is Ratner. In fact, Ratner is putting equity into the arena, about $200 million, and will have a 55% stake. Prokhorov is not putting equity into the arena, and will have a 45% stake. So that looks like a significant bargain for him.

Posted by steve at 6:32 AM

September 25, 2009

Russian Tycoon's Bid For NBA's Nets Examined

All Things Considered (NPR)

Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov has agreed to buy a controlling interest in the New Jersey Nets basketball team. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis says the NBA has to vet Prokhorov's bid, but his 2007 arrest at a French ski resort in connection with ferrying in prostitutes is likely to be the main red flag. Prokhorov was not charged for that incident.

link

NoLandGrab: Stefan Fatsis mentions the "ton of anger" the Atlantic Yards project has engendered — a far cry from the "tiny opposition" claimed (falsely, of course) by the Daily News's editorial board.

Posted by eric at 8:38 PM

Moscow Editorial on Prokhorov's Attempt to Purchase the NJ Nets

Vedomosti via Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

A rough, human translation from the Russian of an editorial in Vedomosti, a leading Moscow business newspaper, part-owned by Financial Times and Dow Jones)

The topic of the week: Game over

Purchase of the American basketball club New Jersey Nets by Mikhail Prokhorov is a vivid example of «business the Russian way» in the sense that it is easier to do it abroad.

Moreover – this is a consequence of one of the most disgusting traits of our character: I will give you everything that you wish, but to your neighbour I will give twice more. — Dear God, take one of my eyes.
...

And we can be only glad for Mikhail Prokhorov: he did not stay without basketball — he has purchased a stake in New Jersey Nets and an arena under construction for $200 million. The problem is that people won’t like to support New Jersey and Chelsea. People want to support Russian teams that win.

"Under construction" is a big stretch considering Ratner doesn't own the land he needs to even break ground on the arena. But such a mistake can be forgiven for press newly introduced to Atlantic Yards—after six years of the Atlantic Yards proposal there is as steep learning curve.

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Posted by eric at 10:55 AM

N.B.A.’s Global Outreach Returns to U.S. Shores

The New York Times
by Harvey Araton

In a long and illustrious European coaching career, Ettore Messina has worked for a fair amount of professional basketball owners. None of them, he said, were quite like Mikhail D. Prokhorov, a Russian tycoon who seemed destined to play moneyball in America.

“The guy has a way about him, a vision,” said Messina, who coached for Prokhorov for four years at CSKA Moscow, a top Russian club.

From across the Atlantic and then some, can the Russian billionaire see a prosperous professional basketball future in Brooklyn, before a shovel has gone into the ground for the long-delayed arena and centerpiece of a 22-acre downtown development project known as the Atlantic Yards?

Legal challenges and N.B.A. vetting hurdles remain before 80 percent ownership of the Nets shifts from Bruce C. Ratner to Prokhorov. Then it would take at least two years for them to move from New Jersey and become the Brooklyn Nets. If and when, the Nets will matter in a way they have only dreamed of since they were born in 1967 as the New Jersey Americans of the American Basketball Association, cash-poor and attention-starved.

article

Posted by eric at 9:00 AM

September 24, 2009

Should a Russian oligarch be allowed to buy the Nets?

Crain's NY Business

Crain's has a silly poll which drastically oversimplifies the issue. It's not a question of whether or not Mikhail Prokhorov should be allowed to buy the Nets. The larger question is whether the arena at the center of the Atlantic Yards project should be propped up with with more than $700 million in public subsidies, tax breaks and give-aways — regardless of who owns the team that would play there. Throw in the question of the use of eminent domain for the primary benefit of a Russian billionaire, and the question gets even more complicated.

Should the NBA approve Mr. Prokhorov's deal to buy the Nets?

⊗ Da. This will bring new ideas to the NBA, attract more foreign investors to the league, and help ensure the Atlantic Yards project gets built.
⊗ Nyet. Mr. Prokhorov made his billions amid the shady dealings in the early days of post-Communist Russia, and he's most likely more concerned with burnishing his image than helping Brooklyn win the urban redevelopment game.

Click thru to vote. View the results here.

Posted by eric at 6:36 PM

A Nets longshot from Russia with love

NorthJersey.com
by Ian O'Connor

Bergen Record columnist O'Connor provides a must-read reality-check on this weeks developments.

Mikhail Prokhorov has formally introduced himself as Bruce Ratner’s human bailout package, and he sounds like a man who just jumped out of a helicopter in a James Bond script.

A tall, dashing Russian billionaire said to appreciate fast jets and faster women, Prokhorov has come rushing to the Nets’ rescue, pledging to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at Ratner for the right to ferry the team to Brooklyn on his personal yacht.

But before anyone counts this as a slam-dunk proposition, consider the Nets’ recent and past history on notions and events that appeared too good to be true.
...

The Nets have long led the league in empty promises and broken hearts. Rick Pitino. Jim Valvano. Rollie Massimino. They were all done deals to save the Nets until, of course, those deals were undone.
...

Truth is, Stern knows next to nothing about Prokhorov. He’s yet to see a single printout on the man’s background, and the league’s vetting process is expected to take months.

That vetting process won’t be any tougher on Prokhorov than it would be on an American tycoon, but it will be tough. The Russian needs approval from the league’s board of governors to become the first man outside of North America to lord over an NBA team.
...

Ratner is racing the clock, too, as he needs to sell a reported $650 million in bonds and break ground on his scaled-down, Gehry-free arena by Dec. 31. One minority Nets partner said that Ratner stands to lose another $100 million in his final seasons in New Jersey, and that the team would’ve cost Ratner $800 million (including the $300 million purchase price) by the time he gets to Brooklyn.

If he gets to Brooklyn.

“Until Ratner breaks ground on that arena,” one ownership source said Wednesday, “nobody’s going to believe he’ll actually pull this off.”
...

By peddling the Nets to Prokhorov, Ratner confirmed all suspicions that his ownership was never about love or basketball. It was about real estate. A damn good piece of it, too.

In the end, maybe Ratner’s human bailout package, Prokhorov, will prove to be the most dynamic force of front office energy to hit the NBA since Mark Cuban.

Or maybe this tall, dashing playboy from Russia will prove to be no more believable than a James Bond script.

The history of the Nets tells you to put your money on the latter, and to expect pro basketball in Newark in a few years’ time.

article

Posted by eric at 1:52 PM

Russian to Judgment: More reaction to Ratner-Prokhorov deal

More reaction to the news that Bruce Ratner plans to sell control of the New Jersey Nets — and a large share of the not-as-yet-and-may-never-be-built Barclays Center arena — to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, Leon Freilich, Verse Responder: Rusky Invasion

A Russian magnate's putting up dough
To buy the Yards and the Nets--
But wait until he runs into
The furious Brooklyn Nyets!

Old First, Pascrell on The Atlantic Yards: "Almost Biblical"

Pastor Daniel Meeter turns to the Bible for an analogy.

I just heard it on Brian Lehrer on WNYC, wonderfully affirmed by Congressman Bill Pascrell, of my home town of Paterson, NJ. He said that the problems of the latest Ratner proposal for the Atlantic Yards are "almost Biblical in proportions."

I have thought so from the beginning. The Tower of Babel comes to mind, as in Breughel's famous painting.

This latest rescue plan, by the Russian oligarch What's-His-Name, is so ludicrous as to defy belief. How can our mayor and our borough president support this? Our public subsidies, paid for by our tax money, will be used for the benefit of a financial gamble on the part of a crony of Putin, who gained his wealth and influence in circumstances fearful to contemplate. The corruption is so huge as to almost disappear from sight. But massive in our sights will be the unfinished hulks of this development.
...

Can this really be happening? Let's see how the ESDC and every other authority respond to this, or will they continue to expose their knavery? Will they finally say, Enough?

It's not going to happen, that's clear, the whole thing is too absurd. It always was absurd, but it's reached a level of absurdity that is, well, Biblical, but the tragedy is, as it always was, how much damage will they do before it finally expires?

AP via WFAN.com, Russian's bid for US team raises hackles at home

Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov's bid for the New Jersey Nets may be a boon to the troubled basketball team, but some Russian legislators and analysts call it a blow to the nation's sports.

"I can't consider this action as anything other than unpatriotic," Aslambek Aslakhanov, a member of the upper parliament chamber's sports committee, said Thursday, according to the state news agency RIA Novosti. "We also have talented children here, but sports isn't being developed. They're not trying in order for us to return to our former sports ranking of best in the world."
...

Viktor Ozerov, another upper-chamber legislator, said Prokhorov is sending his money in the wrong direction.

"I don't deny that Mikhail Prokhorov has put money into developing sports in Russia, but I would have liked all the means he considered possible to have gone to specifically supporting sports in the fatherland," Ozerov was quoted as saying.

The Kremlin hasn't commented on Prokhorov's move, but members of the upper parliament chamber, the Federation Council, commonly reflect the views of the Russian leadership.

NYTimes.com, Rubles for Clunkers? Russian Buys the Nets.

In the N.B.A., there’s a new sheriff in town, a dashing Russian oligarch who arrived at the buzzer to save the Nets’ Brooklyn dreams. Does it matter that he got ridiculously rich in the shady post-Soviet economy, is known as the Nickel King and could, for roughly a hundred reasons, knock Mark Cuban down N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern’s nightmare list? For $200 million, apparently, nyet.

NBA.com, Russian billionaire should help fortune shine upon Nets

In the space of a day, the fortunes of the New Jersey Nets changed dramatically.

With an agreement for Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov to purchase controlling interest of the team, the Nets have gone from the franchise with the biggest debt in the league to the franchise with the richest owner (or second richest, depending on how Paul Allen's investments are doing these days).
...

Nets fans have never liked current owner Bruce Ratner. From Day 1, many have believed that Ratner's reasons for buying the team in 2004 had little to do with basketball. His main reason for owning a team, according to his detractors, was so he had a reason to develop 22 acres in Brooklyn with an arena as the centerpiece.

NoLandGrab: And these most recent developments make it pretty clear that the "detractors" were 100% right.

NY Post, Sale should lift Nets’ restraints

“It’s no secret we’re having financial difficulties,” guard Keyon Dooling, a union VP and the Nets’ player rep entering the last year of his contract, said yesterday. “So I’m very enthused by this. I’m in a position where I might be re-signed or not the following year. It might be a situation where money decides. Nobody wants the decision to be based solely on money.”

The Brooklyn Paper, Who is this shadowy Russian oligarch?

But just how rich is he?

“If you know how rich you are, you are not a billionaire,” he once told the Times Online, our sister publication across the pond.

YourNabe.com, Russian Billionaire buys Nets

But reaction from Brooklyn’s large former Soviet Union and Russian community mainly living in southern Brooklyn was positive.

“This is great news and for the [Russian-American] community it will be huge,” said community activist John Lisyanskiy, who also works in City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office.

Lisyanskiy said there are about 350,000 Russian-Americans living in Brooklyn and he has been trying for years to get them more involved in local affairs and the sale of the team to Prokhorov will bring out a lot of pride, which will ultimately get these new Americans more involved in local community life.

Lisyanskiy said while Prokhorov has been controversial in some of his dealings, he is also well known for Russian philanthropy.

Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny, who represents Brighton Beach and Coney Island, and is a Russian-American immigrant, said the sale will probably trigger a big explosion in the local Russian media resulting in more Russian-Americans going to Nets games.

NLG: Just like the "big explosion" in Chinese-American Nets fans after the team signed Yi Jianlian?

Posted by eric at 1:17 PM

LeBron coming to the Nets?

Yahoo! Sports
by Mark Miller

Prokhorov's rubles could change everything, especially how the Nets approach the big-name free agents of next summer: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Amar'e Stoudemire.

There's even a rumor that the basketball-loving Russian could bring back the wacky and cool design that famed architect Frank Gehry had for the proposed new arena (that might never get built) rather than the eventual ultra-blah airplane-hangar-like building that Ratner ended up with due to lack of dough to throw around. That is no longer a problem for the Nets.

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NoLandGrab: Where do we start? First, in the best case, the Nets are stuck in New Jersey until at least midway through the 2011-2012 season, and that's pushing it. Next, yes, Prokhorov appears to have deeper pockets than Ratner does, but as long as the Nets remain in New Jersey, they will continue to bleed money, and even if the oligarch is willing to spend, the NBA has a salary cap. The smart money is still on LBJ re-signing with the Cavs.

As for the Gehry design coming back, that would appear to be pure fantasy. Prokhorov loves basketball, but no one's accused him of loving architecture.

Posted by eric at 11:26 AM

Jay-Z OUT as Part Owner of NJ Nets As Russian Tycoon Scoops Franchise?

Highbrid Nation

Whither Hova?

However the one party for whom the deal leaves uncertainty is Jigga. Since the deal has yet to be ratified its unclear how Jay-Z interest will be affected. Since he was roughly a 2% minority shareholder on the Ratner team, my inexperience logic would assume along with the sale his percentage too would be liquidated. And although the deal would most certainly mean the Nets would be headed to Brooklyn and increase the chance of the team landing Lebron James it could spell an end to Jay-Z’s dream of “owning” a piece of the first NBA franchise to play its games in his hometown. As I said the details are sketchy and as the press releases and statements come out, I’ll be sure to update the story.

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NoLandGrab: Sketchy, indeed. Whether you call him Jigga, Hova, Sean Carter or whatever, there's no reason to think that Jay-Z will be finished as a minority owner. It is likely that his ownership stake, actually less than one percent, will be further diluted, but that stake has always been more about the public relations than the dollars.

Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

NetsDaily: Scanning the headlines

Here are some links to the action on NetsDaily covering the Prokhorov rumors and subsequent announcement of a deal with Ratner to take over the team:

Prokhorov Confirms Negotiations with Nets, Wants Control

On his blog, Mikhail Prokhorov confirms he is in serious negotiations with the Nets to finance Barclays Center and gain control of the team.

Ratner Says Critics Can Sue but Can’t Win

Bruce Ratner told a Brooklyn newspaper chain that while critics threaten more suits to stop Barclays Center, “It’s easy to sue, but for them, winning has been elusive.”

Nets Thinking Horizontal, Not Vertical

Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe said they are “not in the loop” on ownership talks, but do plan on being a player in next year’s free agency, as long as the team is attractive.

WSJ: So Far, NBA Has “No Problems” with Prokhorov Bid

The Wall Street Journal reports that while the NBA hasn’t begun a background check on Mikhail Prokhorov, “so far the league has no problems” with his plan to buy the Nets.

This pretty much sums up the reaction to a majority of the commenters on the NetsDaily blog:

THE RUSSIAN IS COMING! THE RUSSIAN IS COMING! I believe that G-D is sending this guy to save our team! This guy has everything we need. — Paul Erstein

Ratner, Prokhorov Set Deal — Russian Gets 80% of Nets, 45% of Arena

Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov have announced a wide ranging deal that will result in the Russian billionaire controlling 80% of the Nets and 45% of Barclays Center.

Will Prokhorov Clean House?

Rod Thorn is in the last year of his contract, which reportedly pays him $5 million. Lawrence Frank is in the last year of his contract, which reportedly pays him $4 million. With Mikhail Prokhorov hinting he’d like to bring in Russian (or maybe European) help, are they “toast” as Tom Ziller of Fan House suggests? Nets insiders say a management shakeup might have happened under ANY new ownership.

The Prokhorov Effect

What’s going to be the effect of having the NBA’s richest (or second richest) owner calling the shots…and spending the cash? Tom Ziller of FanHouse thinks a good young core, a ton of cap space and a very rich owner could turn the Nets into a contender fast: “Eastern powers ought to be watching behind them, because it shouldn’t be take long for the New Nets to be breathing down their backs.” And beyond wins and losses, the “New Nets” are likely to become a bigger global…and local brand.

Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

September 23, 2009

Cuban-Nickel crisis could be nightmare for Stern

CBSSports.com
by Ray Ratto

Coming in just under the wire, we have a winner in the contest for the day's best headline.

If Mark Cuban believes in the concept of pride of ownership, his competitive hackles have just been roused by the news out of Moscow, and so his game must be raised commensurately.

He is about to face The Nickel King, and nobody is giving odds either way yet. We just know that if Cuban rises to the task, David Stern may pull off his own head just to make the pain stop.
...

Now Prokhorov only has a deal, so it hasn't come before the 30 not-so-wise men. Ratner of course will vote for it because, to get out of the mess he's made, he'd sell the Nets to Jim Balsillie and tell him he can move the team to the Yukon.

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Posted by eric at 10:10 PM

Thought experiment: what if Prokohorov had been the owner of the Nets in 2003?

Atlantic Yards Report

What if Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who, in a deal announced today would own 80% of the Nets, 45% of the arena, and have an option on 20% of the rest of the Atlantic Yards project, had been majority owner of the Nets in December 2003 when AY was announced?

What if Prokhorov and Ratner had been partners?

Brooklyn sport?

Could Ratner have said, "This started with basketball, a Brooklyn sport," as he said at the time? Could have continued to say, as he did upon the acquisition of Yi Jianlian, that “It’s 100 percent about basketball."

State support

Would the state's effort to pursue eminent domain for a "civic project" and "land use improvement project" including a (nominally) publicly owned state-of-the-art arena have run into roadblocks?

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Posted by eric at 9:58 PM

September 22, 2009

Prokhorov Issues Absurd Statement on the Nets and Atlantic Yards, No Matter How Well Translated

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

By way of DDDB, what it calls a "professional translation" of a statement posted by Russian billionaire (and rumored Bruce Ratner savior) Mikhail Prokhorov on his blog. We're not sure we completely agree with DDDB, however, about the absurdity of the statement.

Greetings to all!

I realized all of a sudden that, well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve written, and there’s a reason for that—the last few months we’ve been swamped at work with routine tasks, and there was nothing really interesting to report. But now there is something—not long ago our group received a proposal to participate in a business project concerning the building of a new arena in Brooklyn (New York) and to become a shareholder of the basketball team “New Jersey Nets,” which in two years should move to Brooklyn and be called “Brooklyn Nets.”

Most interestingly, I learned of this project from the papers, about how I would play an active role in it! And what a surprise, then, that within a few days after the stories came out in the press, shareholders of the team reached out to us with a real proposal to discuss possible collaboration! The discussion concluded with us receiving a firm offer from the American shareholders to be involved in the project. For our group, participation in such a complex project undoubtedly is interesting only in the event that NBA technology can be used for the systematic development of basketball in Russia. Our existing professional league, as everyone knows, is not able to independently keep itself afloat, and because of that, the financial well-being and existence of clubs are entirely dependent either on the support of governors or businessmen-fans of the sport, and any changes to their financial position leads to instability in the development of a club.

Click thru for the rest of the statement, which, in truth, does wander a bit.

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NoLandGrab: We've got news for Mr. Prokhorov — some teams in our existing professional league (like the one he's rumored to be bailing out) are unable to independently keep themselves afloat, either, which is why they turn to Russian billionaires (like himself), and must also depend on the support of governors (and mayors and borough presidents and economic development corporations and public authorities) for their existence.

Posted by eric at 8:50 PM

September 21, 2009

WATCH MICKY DRIBBLE THE BALL – PROKHOROV’S AMERICAN MOVE IS A BUZZER BEATER BEFORE KREMLIN DISQUALIFIER

Dances with Bears
by John Helmer

Thanks to DDDB for alerting us to this story by "the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia."

Does Russia's Deputy Prime Minister hold the keys to Bruce Ratner's ultimate bailout?

In the original game of basketball, invented by Dr James Naismith in 1892, there were 13 rules. Rule 5 was the disqualifier. In the playbook of Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, there is just one rule – and that’s the disqualifier. Mikhail Prokhorov’s decision to buy into the American National Basketball Association is his signal he’s out of the Russian game.

Prokhorov has been acutely sensitive to the coverage he has been getting in the American media for some time, and according to a source in his circle, that is because he does not want to be seen by the Kremlin as getting too close to the US Government. Taking ski vacations in Aspen, Colorado, is one thing; shaking hands with the President of the United States is another (in a crowded room).

But investing up to a billion dollars or more in the US – well, Prokhorov’s men accept that, before doing that, it is prudent for the oligarch to clear the transaction in advance with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin, the deputy prime minister who hands out (and takes away) Russia’s mining and metals concessions. Outside Russia, this process is misunderstood. Inside Russia, it is quite straightforward – oligarchs holding concessions for the exploitation of Russian resources do so at the pleasure of the state. The dividends they draw out of these concessions may be squirreled away in offshore havens, even spent on sex objects. But the spending of the capital of the concession, cannot be decided according to the same whims, especially not at a time like this.

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NoLandGrab: Damned if we can figure all this out, since as DDDB writes, "none of you, nor Bruce Ratner nor we ever thought one would have to become a Kremlinologist to read the tea leaves for Bruce and Brett's Excellent Adventure."

All we can say is, this whole Atlantic Yards saga just gets weirder and weirder.

Posted by eric at 11:03 PM

Potential Nets owner lost billions in last year?

Yahoo! Sports
By Mark Miller

Brooklyn may be gaining an ultra-rich, hard-partying, 43-year-old owner to the NBA team that wants to move there. Bruce Ratner is apparently getting very close to selling a majority stake in the New Jersey Nets to basketball-loving Russian kajillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who was arrested only a few years ago on suspicion that he was providing prostitutes to extremely high-end clients, according to the New York Daily News.

Prokhorov, the 40th wealthiest man in the world, according to Forbes, is worth about $9.5 billion even though he supposedly lost 51% of his treasure within the last 12 months. Ouch. Still, the guy apparently wants in on this team and is ready to throw in $700 million to help Ratner steamroll all the local opposition to the arena project and take majority ownership of the team.

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NoLandGrab: Prokorov didn't get rich by being stupid, so it's hard to believe that he'll bail Ratner out for the privilege of co-owning a money-losing team.

True Hoop, First Cup: Monday

Posted by lumi at 7:07 PM

Nets backer has dubious background?

The Russian billionaire who is believed to be close to funding the Nets' move to Brooklyn has a checkered past.

ESPNStar.com

It's amazing how a story based on a poorly reported rumor still has legs four days later.

Mikhail Prokhorov, who was recently named the 40th wealthiest man in the world by Forbes, was arrested in 2007 on suspicion he was involved in an upscale prostitution ring.

Prokhorov is reportedly close to issuing a $700 million bond through his investment firm, Onexim, that would help owner Bruce Ratner build the long-awaited Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.

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Posted by lumi at 5:39 AM

September 19, 2009

Rumors Continue of Possible Sale of Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov

Developer Bruce Ratner continues to search for a way to end the financial loss of owning the Nets and to find a way to begin building an arena before the end of this year.

The Star-Ledger, Russian billionaire considering deal to help finance NJ Nets' Brooklyn arena project
by Dave D'Alessandro

The Nets may have found a solution to their Barclays Center funding issue, if a spokesman for a Russian billionaire can be believed.

A spokesman for Mikhail Prokhorov -- the oligarch often named as one of the candidates interested in purchasing the team -- told the Moscow Times that "the possibility exists" that Prokhorov will participate in the Brooklyn project.

Another report originating in Sport Express, another Russian publication, said that Prokhorov will purportedly invest $700 million in the new arena, while securing management partnership for a single dollar.

The publicist from Prokhorov's Onexim Group, Igor Ketrov, said, "It is possible. The investment group has received an offer to build a stadium for the New Jersey Nets. It's too early to say what's going to come out of it. Business is business."

It is not too early for Nets owner Bruce Ratner, however. He has admitted to the team's minority investors that he must get his ownership structure in order by late September.

Ratner's company, Forest City Enterprises, has lost $70 million over the last two years, according to SEC filings; and all investors have lost $353 million in the five years Ratner has been principal owner, according to a New York Times analysis of Forest City finances.

Prokhorov's interest in making a deal with the Nets was first reported by The Star-Ledger in July.

Luxist, Russia's Richest Man May Build NBA Stadium
by Deidre Woollard

Back in June I started hearing rumors that Russia's richest man Mikhail Prokhorov was interested in buying a portion of the New Jersey Nets. The six-foot-nine-inch-tall billionaire is a basketball fan and owns a share of a Russian basketball team.

The latest news from Moscow is that he may help to build the team's new arena. He would provide a loan for the Nets and receive a large non-controlling stake in the team in return. Nets owner Bruce Ratner has wanted to build an arena for the team in Brooklyn and move his team there in 2011. The stadium's construction may cost around $800 million. Ratner has been to Moscow for talks but nothing has been officially confirmed yet.

Posted by steve at 6:45 AM

September 18, 2009

Ratner Said to Be Closer to Selling Majority Stake in Nets

The New York Times
by Charles V. Bagli

The developer Bruce C. Ratner, who received final state approval Thursday to build an $800 million arena in Brooklyn for the Nets, is inching closer to selling a majority stake in the team to a Russian billionaire, according to two executives briefed on the negotiations.

Ratner, who bought the team for $300 million in 2004 with plans to move it to a new home in Brooklyn, has acknowledged in recent weeks that he is talking to potential investors. The arena, which would be known as Barclays Center, is the centerpiece of a planned 22-acre residential and commercial development project.

The executives said that Mikhail Prokhorov, one of the richest men in Russia and an avid sports fan, is the leading contender to buy a majority stake in the team and in the planned arena at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.

The Nets, who play at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., declined to discuss potential investors.
...

Ratner has been eager to bring in new blood. His company, Forest City Enterprises, owns 23 percent of the team, which has endured about $380 million in pretax net losses over the past five years.

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More grist for the rumor mill...

Russia Today, Russia’s richest man to acquire stake in New Jersey Nets for $1

One of Russia’s richest men, businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, is set to acquire a majority share in the New Jersey Nets basketball club for just one US dollar, reports Sport Express.

The Russian newspaper reports that the deal – giving Prokhorov a stake in the team – is almost complete.

In turn, Prokhorov, who is a former mining executive, will invest at least $700 in building a new arena for the Nets, Reuters reports.

NoLandGrab: Is it possible Prokhorov might be overpaying?

Field of Schemes, Russian rescue for Ratner's Nets arena?

New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner's $200 million financing gap might be resolved soon, if Reuters is to be believed:

Russia's richest man Mikhail Prokhorov is preparing an offer to help the New Jersey Nets build a new arena and sources close to him say he could own a large stake in the NBA club as part of the $700 million deal.

This would, needless to say, solve Ratner's biggest problem, which is how to raise enough money to get his $900 million arena built, when he's only eligible for $700 million in tax-exempt bonds (or maybe not even that). The big question is: What would Prokhorov be getting in exchange for his $700 million? The entire Nets franchise is worth less than $300 million, so even a "large stake" wouldn't get him his investment back. (While a move to Brooklyn would increase the team value somewhat, even the Knicks aren't worth $700 million.) If the $700 million is mostly a loan, Prokhorov would get annual payments as well — but then we're back to asking where Ratner would get the money to pay off the annual cost, regardless of where he borrowed it.
...

Of course, it's also entirely possible that the entire story has been concocted to make the Nets project seem more viable, as ESPN.com notes has been the case in other instances where teams have dropped Prokhorov's name. Though Prokhorov and Ratner would seem to have one bond between them: They're both losing money hand over fist.

NBA Fanhouse, Majority Stake in Nets Being Sold to Russian Tycoon?

A report from Reuters Thursday afternoon asserted that Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov was preparing an offer in the neighborhood of $700 million to purchase a stake in the Nets franchise and help build current team owner Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, which would include a new Nets arena in Brooklyn. A Prokhorov representative vaguely confirmed that the tycoon (Russia's richest man, at assets around $9.5 billion) could possibly participate in building a sports arena in the United States.

mcbrooklyn, Ratner, the Nets, and the Russian Billionaire

It also came out yesterday in Reuters that Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's richest man, is putting together a deal to issue $700 million in bonds to help the team (and developer Bruce Ratner) build the arena. NBC New York says the Reuters story is "suspicious."

NBC New York, Russia's Richest Man to Pave Nets Path to Brooklyn?

The timing is curious, simply because everyone knows that the Nets have been losing money hand over fist for the last few years and that they'll almost certainly need outside investment in order to actually get the arena project off the ground. Prokhorov's name has come up before without any action, and it wouldn't be the first time that the name of one big financier was used to get other ones interested in beating him to what could wind up being a lucrative real estate deal with a basketball team thrown in for good measure. All Prokhorov's company spokesman would say is that he's considering an investment, which is probably true and isn't indicative of all that much.

The biggest reason to believe he might not be interested in a deal is that the NBA does a significant amount of vetting for investors in teams. Prokhorov, like all of Russia's oligarchs, has connections to government interests that he might not want to disclose to the likes of David Stern. Of course, Stern has seemed as desperate as Nets owner Bruce Ratner to get the team to Brooklyn so he might opt for a circumvented process if it helps get the arena built after long last.

HOOPSWORLD, Selling The Nets

It is believed Ratner's personal holdings in the Nets are what is being shopped to a potential buyer, and that could give control over the team to another group.

Minority investors in the Nets have told reporters for months that Ratner is aggressively shopping for cash, and that an outright sale of the team is possible, but it was more likely that Ratner would look to cash out his stake in the club to insure his Atlantic Yards project gets funded.

SLAM Online, Russian Billionaire Wants to Buy the Nets

From Russia, with boatloads of money....

AP via ESPN.com, Tycoon considers giving loan for Nets

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is considering a deal with the New Jersey Nets to help fund the construction of their new arena.

Igor Petrov, spokesman for the tycoon's investment vehicle Onexim, told The Associated Press on Friday that "there is a possibility" that Prokhorov would participate in the construction of the new arena for the NBA team. Petrov declined further comment.

Russia's leading business daily Kommersant reported Friday that as part of a deal Prokhorov would provide a loan for the Nets and receive a large stake in the team in return.

Deadspin, Russian Billionaires Are NBA's Last Hope

All New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner wants to do is get the Nets out of New Jersey and plant them in the heart of Brooklyn, but he's missing one key ingredient. What's it called? Oh right...money. He has none.

Ratner is still scrambling to build his terrible horrible no good very bad basketball arena right in the middle of the busiest intersection in Brooklyn. Nobody really wants it there and no one wants to pay for it—he had to fire architecture god Frank Gehry because his original design was too expensive—and the eminent domain-ed land owners will fight it tooth and nail. Yet Ratner persists. And with a "break ground or else" deadline looming he's turned to the only person who can help him—a disgustingly rich Russian oligarch.

Brownstoner, Russian Billionaire To Bail Out Ratner?

Posted by eric at 8:54 AM

September 17, 2009

NBA-Russia's richest man eyes Nets deal

Reuters
by Polina Devitt and Anastasia Onegina

Reuters' Moscow bureau is the source for a story on what would be the ultimate Bruce Ratner bailout.

Russia's richest man Mikhail Prokhorov is preparing an offer to help the New Jersey Nets build a new arena and sources close to him say he could own a large stake in the NBA club as part of the $700 million deal.
...

A spokesman for Prokhorov's Onexim investment vehicle confirmed on Thursday it had been approached to participate in building the Nets' long-awaited arena in Brooklyn and was preparing an offer.

"As we have said before, we have received interest from potential investors in the team," Nets CEO Brett Yormark said in a statement. "That interest is growing as it is clear that we are moving to Brooklyn."

Officials with the National Basketball Association were not immediately available to comment.
...

Prokhorov is considering issuing a bond worth $700 million through Onexim to help fund the project, one source close to the deal said.

The source said the bond must be issued before the end of 2009 so it is exempt from government taxes, adding: "This is a pure business story. The value potential of the club and arena are very high."

Another source familiar with Prokhorov's plans said the billionaire may end up owning a stake in the club as part of the deal.

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NoLandGrab: There have been rumors about Prokhorov being interested, and not being interested, for several months now, and Bruce Ratner reportedly flew to Moscow early this summer to prostrate himself, no doubt, before the mighty Russian oligarch.

One thing is pretty certain, though — Prokhorov didn't become Russia's richest man by investing with boobs like Ratner. On the other hand, he could be eyeing the ESDC's "NY Loves Business" Atlantic Yards largesse like a kid in a candy store.

One more thing — the bit about Prokhorov issuing a bond seems a bit odd. Then again, the whole thing seems a bit odd.

Additional coverage...

ESPN True Hoop, Russia's Richest Man, A Cash-Strapped NBA Team

ESPN blogger Henry Abbott serves up a little cold water for the "done deal" crowd.

Reuters has been reporting on the possibility that billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov might infuse the Nets with the capital they need to become a presence in Brooklyn.
...

Is it real? Is the NBA really about to welcome an "oligarch" into the ownership club?

Who knows? But it is interesting to note that the Wikipedia entry on Prokhorov says that teams like to drop his name, apparently as a way of stirring other investors.

There's a global tendency to report that Mikhail Prokhorov is becoming a strategic investor of some companies or sport clubs with deep financial problems in order to attract an interest to their activities. New Jersey Nets and FC Roma are also in the list.

His name has been connected to the Nets for some time, along with speculation that he might not want to let the NBA dig into his finances as part of the ownership vetting.

The Moscow Times, Prokhorov May Fund NBA Stadium

Mikhail Prokhorov may help fund the construction of an arena for the New Jersey Nets, a spokesman for the billionaire’s holding company said Thursday.

Prokhorov, Russia’s wealthiest man and an avid basketball fan, is considering funding the stadium after being approached by someone involved in building Barclays Center, which is planned to go up in Brooklyn, Onexim spokesman Igor Petrov told The Moscow Times.

“The possibility exists” that Prokhorov will participate in the project, Petrov said, declining to say how much he would contribute.
...

Another source told Reuters that Prokhorov was getting a stake in the team as payment for a debt.

NLG: A stake in the team as payment for a debt? Wait, isn't this the Simpson's episode all over again?

Posted by eric at 8:33 PM

September 11, 2009

Yormark Denies Team is for Sale

Nets Daily

Brett Yormark was on the FOX Business Network on Tuesday to talk about logos on practice jerseys, and when asked about a potential sale of the Nets, he denied that Bruce Ratner is actively seeking to sell the team. “We’re not open for business and for sale,” Yorkmark said after searching for the right words. He instead chose to phrase a potential purchase as investors looking to buy in. “We get a lot of inquires, especially now that we’re moving to Brooklyn. They see the asset value of the Nets.”

link

NoLandGrab: Be sure to read the comments, which show that Yormark is as beloved by diehard Nets' fans as he is by Atlantic Yards opponents.

And if you haven't had a chance to watch that Fox interview yet, it's worth it just for Yormark's master class in marketing-speak gobbledygook.

Posted by eric at 1:53 PM

September 9, 2009

Nets Leading the Way?

Hoopsworld
By Alex Raskin

According to the Sports Business Journal, PNY Technologies—a New Jersey-based flash drive manufacturer—has struck a deal with the Nets to put their logo on the team's practice jerseys. In doing so, the Nets became the first NBA team to sell ads on any of its uniforms.
...
The financial issues of moving a franchise in this economic climate may have pushed the Nets to sell ads on their practice jerseys, but that doesn't mean they're not starting a trend. And if the league permits, don't be surprised to see logos on game uniforms as well.

Could Devin Harris end up looking like Ricky Bobby?

Who knows? [Nets CEO Brett] Yormark spent six years at NASCAR before Ratner hired him in New Jersey.

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Posted by lumi at 5:02 AM

September 7, 2009

Soon You're Talking Real Money...

Gumby Fresh

The pseudonymous bond-market insider Gari N. Corp parses last week's Nets Daily analysis of Bruce Ranter's precarious financial situation.

I finally got round to picking through this extremely interesting, timely, lucid, and well-reported Q&A at Nets Daily post about a potential sale of the New Jersey Nets basketball team. It's awesome. Go read it. Go read it again. Go pick through it yourself like an episode of The Wire. There at the bottom is a comment from me. I'm going to elucidate here on what I wrote there.

The blog's pseudonymous author has worked out that there are a lot of rather angry investors in the Nets ready to vent at the nearest knowledgeable Nets fan, and the author has done a very good job of tracking them down. They also have appeared to have gleaned a pretty convincing idea of the Nets team finances.

But buried down in the information is something pretty momentous - Ratner needs to scare up another $200 million from somewhere to finish his new stadium in Brooklyn.
...

Now go back to the Nets Daily article and take a gander at the logistics of this. Ratner wants to sell the team, and use the proceeds to fund the stadium. But buyers - with the NBA's support, apparently - do not want to be locked into an above-market lease for a Brooklyn arena. They want to own the arena, but probably don't have the resources to convince the agencies to follow through.

The Nets losses then, are only part of the reason Ratner needs to sell. But Ratner might not be able to sell the team until the financing is in place, but needs to sell the team to conclude the financing. Can he bundle both into a single instantaneous transaction? Watch this space.

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NoLandGrab: As usual, Mr. Corp (whose unstated motto would appear to be "quality, not quantity" of blog posts) has penned a piece well worth clicking thru to.

Posted by eric at 10:39 AM

September 6, 2009

NetsDaily, quoting many "insiders," says sale of team, bond issuance face tight deadline; can financing and sale be bundled?

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder digests claims from the NetsDaily blog on possible futures for the New Jersey Nets. The full analysis is well worth the read. Below are some highlights.

The pseudonymous NetIncome (aka Bobbo), the ill-tempered and amply-but-anonymously-sourced Nets superfan behind much of the NetsDaily blog, has posted The Nets’ Future-An FAQ, which is worth a close look.

It's very interesting stuff, though the lack of clear sourcing should be taken with a grain of salt. I've provided some excerpts, plus some commentary of my own and, notably, from blogger Gari N. Corp, who questions the bundling of both the team sale and arena financing, observing on his Gumby Fresh blog:
This is a tremendously over-leveraged developer trying to pitch a tremendously over-leveraged project to the market.

Ratner trying to line up a buyer for the Nets who would subsequently pay pay rent to Ratner for the proposed arena.

NetIncome sees Newark as impossible, but Oder isn't so sure:

NetIncome writes:
Ray Chambers, one of the former owners, is still pitching Newark. A second insider hinted that Mayor Cory Booker had spoken to some of the owners a while back at Chambers’ request. “If you talk to Ray Chambers and Cory Booker, they’ll tell you how good Newark would be”, said the insider, but he reiterated that Brooklyn is the better deal because of the arena.

Later, he comments more dyspeptically, saying that the Newark investors are illusory--well, the sources are anonymous, as are so many of his--adding:
Again, for about the 1,000th time, there is NO WAY for the Nets to make money in Newark. NONE. Vanderbeek can’t make money on the Devils, for God sake, or the arena, even with all those open dates.

I think it's more complicated. For the Prudential Center, at least, the scenario would change if the Izod Center closes and no longer competes for lucrative concerts.

While it would obviously be more difficult for the Nets to make money in Newark, attendance--the lack thereof which has caused financial woes--almost surely would increase. Here is some insight under the heading of "Timing issues and bonds".

Insiders tell NI that ownership would have to be settled by November, a schedule complicated by a state Court of Appeals decision not expected until mid- to late-November (and, I'd add, potential other court cases). Bond rating agencies must approve the deal.

To build the $772 million Barclays Center (the FAQ says $774M), with $650 million in tax-exempt bonds, according to NI, the team owner must put up $200 million in cash and prove the availability of revenue streams, such as the lease and naming rights.

And here's an indication that Ratner must find a way to end his losses from owning the Nets:

While the Nets have lost $70+ million over the past two years, parent Forest City Enterprises, which has increasingly absorbed team losses "reportedly has told Ratner after this year 'we’re done,'” according to NI.

Oder brings in comment from the blog Gumby Fresh that indicates that some tricky maneuvering would be necessary to line up financing for an arena:

Ratner wants to sell the team, and use the proceeds to fund the stadium. But buyers - with the NBA's support, apparently - do not want to be locked into an above-market lease for a Brooklyn arena. They want to own the arena, but probably don't have the resources to convince the agencies to follow through.

The Nets losses then, are only part of the reason Ratner needs to sell. But Ratner might not be able to sell the team until the financing is in place, but needs to sell the team to conclude the financing. Can he bundle both into a single instantaneous transaction? Watch this space. (Emphasis added)

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NoLandGrab: It's interesting and useful how comments on one blog cause analysis by other bloggers. But wouldn't it be nice if the Empire State Development Corporation, tool of developer Bruce Ratner, saw fit to let the public know directly the state of the proposed Atlantic Yards development?

Posted by steve at 5:37 AM

September 4, 2009

Just How Effed Are the New Jersey Nets?

Can't Stop The Bleeding
by David Roth

Well, very. And in some surprising ways, if this very detailed, surprisingly well-sourced but fairly dry FAQ from Nets Daily is any indication.

On one level — the most obvious, which is the level on which I really shine — the Nets’ problems aren’t that surprising. They’re preparing to send an 18-win team onto the court in a honking, empty-but-noise-choked arena festooned with branding and logos on every flat and semi-curved surface; they’ve disrespected their fans in ways that few franchises could even conceive. And of course their ticket revenues fell by nearly a third between the ‘07-08 and ‘08-09 seasons, thanks in large part to what has to rank among the most assaultively unpleasant at-game experience in pro sports and a proudly and frankly half-assed approach to building a team. They’re a study in corporate charmlessness and also can’t shoot the basketball. There’s not much left to like.

But the depth and breadth of the problems limned in the Nets Daily piece is honestly stunning. Forbes reports that the team’s debt-to-value ratio is a staggering 71% — the highest in professional sports — and that the team is carrying $200 million in debt. There’s that, but it’s not just that. At some point, the delusion and incompetence of owner Bruce Ratner and his well-compensated crew — marketing tard-genius Brett Yormark, GM Rod Thorn, Director of Player Personnel Kiki Vandeweghe and coach Lawrence Frank combined to earn $12 million last year — becomes almost too much to take. Ratner is losing $35 million on a team he doesn’t give a shit about, and which he is struggling to fit into an arena that he has struggled mightily to get built. That all might be tagged as opportunity cost if his plans for how to turn the whole thing around weren’t so laughably far-fetched....

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NoLandGrab: "Well-sourced?" Only if one counts having a lot of unattributed sources as being "well-sourced." Maybe "amply sourced." Then again, since Nets Daily's "Net Income" is anonymous himself, it's not surprising.

Posted by eric at 9:28 AM

September 3, 2009

The Nets’ Future - An FAQ

Nets Daily

Uber Nets' fan and Atlantic Yards-booster NetIncome posts an interesting and lengthy analysis of the team's dire predicament situation.

Are the Nets for sale?

In spite of denials and protestations, Bruce Ratner has been trying to sell the Nets for the past nine months, hoping to find a buyer who’ll be willing to pay $400 million for the team, a $100 million premium on what he paid for it five years ago, according to Nets insiders.

Who are the likely buyers?

So far, three investment groups have shown interest in the team, all of whom have been identified previously: those led by Vincent Viola, the former chairman of NYMEX and the team’s second largest investor after Ratner; Terry Semel, the former CEO of Warner Brothers and Yahoo!; and Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian oligarch who is among the world’s richest men with a fortune between $10 billion and $15 billion. (In addition, a fourth investor, Marc Lasry, a hedge fund manager, has shown some interest, but it has waned recently, according to published reports confirmed by a team insider.)

What the prospects for a sale?

No better than 50-50, according to insiders. Ratner does not want to give up control of the Barclays Center in any sale or recapitalization. Instead he hopes the team’s new owners will be a tenant only in the new arena, pay him a large annual lease in addition to the substantial premium for the team. The insiders say new buyers are unlikely to pay the premium or the large lease, which is significantly greater than the $2.02 million the Nets now pay the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for the IZOD Center.

“In that scenario,” said one team insider, “Ratner sells the team, you get control of the team and the right to lose $20 - $35 million a year on the team. Key to the franchise success is the arena, not the team.”
...

Why does Ratner want to sell now?

Ratner’s desire to sell is tied to the team’s increasingly desperate finances—the Nets have lost $70+ million the past two years, according to filings made by Ratner’s parent company, Forest City Enterprises, with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Forest City owns 23% of the team and has increasingly funded team losses, going from 38% to 100% over the past four years, as the filings have noted. It has agreed to fund this year’s losses as well, but reportedly has told Ratner after this year “we’re done”.

Overall, Forest City has lost $119.1 million and all investors $353 million, according to a New York Times analysis of team finances.

There’s also the urgent need to find a significant amount of capital to construct the $774 million Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. Ratner or whoever owns the team must put up at least $200 million in cash and show prospective financiers they have substantial revenue streams—like the lease—in order to obtain tax-exempt financing. And he must do that by year’s end, if not sooner.
...

What about debt? Aren’t the Nets heavily in debt?

According to one insider, half the $400 million would go towards the down payment on the Barclays Center and half towards reducing team debt.

The team’s debt is more than $200 million, says Forbes Magazine. That, reports Forbes, makes the Nets’ debt-to-value ratio the highest in the NBA, if not professional sports, at 71%.
...

How critical was the critics’ legal strategy?

Two insiders offered begrudging praise for the critics’ legal plan, noting that they first took it to federal court, then state court. Even without a victory, that sequencing slowed the legal process to a crawl. It was “brilliant”, said one insider.
...

Suppose it doesn’t work. What happens then?

“The team will be sold to whoever can pay for it,” said an insider. “They could wind up in Seattle or St. Louis.” A sports marketing expert agreed, suggesting that Brooklyn gets less and less likely every day.

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NoLandGrab: While we frequently find ourselves at odds with Mr. Income, he does seem to have good information, though he remains anonymous, as do his sources. If he's on-target, however, Bruce Ratner appears to be suffering from delusions — and a desperate need for cash.

Posted by eric at 11:13 AM

Iannazzone: Nets' giveaway not a good fit

NorthJersey.com
by Al Iannazzone

The Record's Nets' beat reporter is not a fan of the team's reversible-jersey promo.

The concept is interesting and innovative, but shows how bad things are in sales and that trying to create a home-court advantage isn't as important as making sure people are in the seats.

That's part of the sales department's job and no one works harder than people in the Nets' organization at trying to stir interest, which isn't easy in this economic climate and with outside expectations of the team lower than they have been in more than a decade. But as bold and creative as this plan is, there's also something fundamentally wrong with it.

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Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

September 2, 2009

Tickets Are Tough Sell for New Giants Stadium

The NY Times
By Joe Lapointe

Bruce Ratner would have fans and investors believe that the NJ Nets' weak attendance figures will improve once he moves the team to a brand new arena in Brooklyn.

This week, the Times reports that the Giants and Jets are having a rough time selling season tickets for the teams' new stadium.

But in selling seats for both stadiums during a severe recession, Jets and Giants officials are facing economic forces that have been daunting even big-ticket sports franchises in major markets.

The Giants, who still have seats to sell for some games this season, have not found buyers for about 3,000 club season tickets for 2010, some in the best locations at the highest prices.

And the Jets lag behind the Giants. They said they still had “a few thousand” season tickets remaining for 2009 and were advertising half-season packages.

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NoLandGrab: Who would have predicted that teams with decades-long waiting lists for tickets would be such a tough sell?

It's a bad omen for Bruce Ratner, whose Nets fan base deteriorated last season to the point that the team stooped to offering packages with $10 tickets and kept finding new ways to give away tickets.

Posted by lumi at 5:31 AM

August 25, 2009

The Nowhere Nets

The Star-Ledger, Editorial

Quicker than a slapshot, the Devils' full-color advertisement went up on a digital billboard towering over Interstate 78: "We proudly wear our state on our jerseys," the caption pronounced, the bold words running beneath a photo of the hockey team's NJ logo.

It's the latest gotcha in an intramural feud with the Nets, who continue to commit silly personal fouls against the state while playing in a decaying -- and competing -- arena the Devils want closed. But motives aside, the Nets deserved the dig.

It's not enough that the Nets keep insisting they're moving to Brooklyn (call us when a shovel actually scratches the dirt over there), but now the Nets are removing "New Jersey" from their road uniforms for the upcoming basketball season.

Basically, they're saying: "When we're in New Jersey, we'd rather be in Brooklyn, and when we're on the road, we don't want anyone to know we're still from New Jersey."

So, while New Jersey pours millions of tax dollars into Izod Center to prop it up for the Nets, the NBA team repays the state with disrespect.

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Posted by eric at 11:18 AM

The Juice List: The readers have spoken with their own choices

The Star-Ledger sports columnist Steve Politi shares reader responses to his list of 25 most influential powerbrokers in NJ sports. Bruce Ratner's inclusion at #6 got on one fan's nerves:

"Bruce Ratner as a sports broker in New Jersey? He'll take that as an insult as he hates New Jersey! His goal is to be a sports broker in Brooklyn. Seriously, I am a Nets season ticket holder since 2003 (cheap seats). The Nets were always a bit of a laughing stock, but he's gone to new lengths giving away reversible jerseys with a Nets player on one side and a rival on the other. What team promotes their rivals? The sooner this Brooklyn project is buried, the sooner he can sell the team and we can get a real owner, hopefully, from New Jersey. The guy's a joke!" -- Ray Trepkau

Politi's response:

Well, like I wrote on Sunday, power doesn't mean likability. Ratner's decisions in the coming months will have a huge impact on the sports landscape, from the future of the Meadowlands to the Newark arena.

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Posted by lumi at 5:34 AM

August 23, 2009

The inaugural Star-Ledger Juice List: The Jersey area's Top 25 most powerful sports brokers

Star-Ledger
by Steve Politi

This list of those influential in the world New Jersey sports shows the ongoing uncertainty of Bruce Ratner's attempts to move the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn.

Not surprisingly, Ratner makes the list at number 6:

Bruce Ratner. Influence doesn't necessarily translate into likability, and if the Nets owner succeeds with his Brooklyn project, Jersey loses its NBA team. If he fails, he'll have the power to sell the team to local investors or to a group that will try to move it again. Trending: Up.

Please note this mention of the Nets in a profile of New Jersy state senate president Richard Codey, who is number 1 on the Juice List:

The coming months don't figure to diminish his role, either. The future of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is a major issue, and the future home for the Nets -- either here, or in Brooklyn, or in a location yet to be determined -- will finally be settled.

The entry for Jeff Vanderbeek, number 3 on the list, hints at the possibility of the Nets finding a home in Newark's Prudential Center:

Jeff Vanderbeek. The Devils owner is the biggest reason that there's a world-class arena in Newark, and if there's ever an NBA team there, he'll have to be a major player in making that happen. Trending: Up.

Corey Booker, who is 15th on the list, has promoted the idea of the Nets moving to Newark:

Cory Booker. The Newark mayor has talked big about rounding up investors to bring the Nets to the city. If he fails to deliver, he'll drop a few pegs in public perception -- and off this list. Trending: Up.

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Posted by steve at 7:13 AM

August 18, 2009

The Business of the NBA

CNBC

The Nets' Yormarketing genius was on CNBC today, sticking to old fictions (the Nets will be in Brooklyn in 2011) and creating new ones ("there's only been a few people that have unfortunately not embraced" the team's silly reversible-jersey promotion). Yormark must not be reading Nets Daily.

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NoLandGrab: "The reality of the situation is that we cater to the casual fan?!" That kind of talk will surely make those folks (a dwindling crowd, to be sure) who shell out thousands for Nets season tickets feel loved.

Related coverage...

Nets Daily, Yormark: “Only a Few People Haven’t Embraced the Matchup Plan”

Posted by eric at 12:16 PM

August 17, 2009

New Jerseys, er, New Jersey, er...

Fans for Fair Play

Reversible error? FFFP turns the tables on the Nets' silly jersey promotion, which has irked loyal fans by suggesting some other alternatives.

Well, it gets confusinger and confusinger in Ye Olde Ratnerville.

Bruce has run the Nets into the ground. It's no surprise -- Ratner makes Harry Frazee, who bought the Red Sox and sold Babe Ruth only as a financing ploy for his Broadway plays, look like the model of conscientious sports ownership.

The latest disaster is Nets' marketing wizard Brett Yorkmark's new gambit for the hearts and minds of Garden State Nets fans. Those, at least, that haven't yet caught on that they're the worms on the end of Ratners hooks.

Having already announced that the words "New" and "Jersey" have been stripped from this year's uniforms -- another lame effort at the now discredited notion that the Nets moving to Brooklyn is a done deal -- Yormark has a bizarre "gift" for season ticket holders who, in effect, hand Ratner the hammer he'll use to club them senseless.
...

A personal message from Bruce Ratner to New Jersey's remaining Nets fans. It's tender, it's caring, it's...it's Bruce! 2012 might be pushing it. The Nets might end up in Newark a lot sooner. They certainly won't make it to Brooklyn by then...if ever.

Click through for all of FFFP's inside-outable jersey options.

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Posted by eric at 8:47 AM

August 14, 2009

The Nets 2010: A Realistic Plan

HOOPSWORLD
by Alex Raskin

Forget about LeBron James' relationship with Nets minority owner Jay-Z; ignore Dwyane Wade's presence at the U.S. Open last August; and don't pay any attention to the Chris Bosh rumors: All three headliners of the Free Agent Class of 2010 aren't going anywhere.

Thanks to the Larry Bird Clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Cleveland, Miami and Toronto can each re-sign James, Wade, and Bosh respectively for around $30 million more than anyone else can offer.

With that in mind, let's take a realistic look at what the New Jersey Nets can do in the summer of 2010.

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Posted by eric at 9:24 AM

Yormarketing Genius: More on the Nets' reversible jersey promo

Norman Oder reported yesterday about how a Nets ticket promotion offering reversible jerseys — Nets player on one side, famous opponent (LeBron, Kobe, Dwayne Wade, etc.) on the other — was enraging fans posting on Nets Daily. Here's a link to those comments, and more coverage below.

Nets Daily, Switching Sides Made Easy

It’s just a marketing ploy, but it seems so…disloyal. To get fans to buy 10-game packages, the Nets are offering five reversible NBA jerseys–one side is a Nets jersey, the other a team they’ll be playing in those games. Devin Harris turns into Dwyane Wade, Courtney Lee into Kobe Bryant, Brook Lopez into Dwight Howard, etc. It’s as if the Nets are saying: if our team is embarrassing you, just switch…sides!

Our favorite comment:

Maybe a better idea would be for the marketing team to give up trying to sell us crap ideas and blow their budget on hiring people to simply break into our homes and steal all our stuff and dignity. It would save a lot of time.

CNBC.com, Nets Make Stars Of Opponents

Marketing opposing players has long been a practice in the NBA, at least for the last 20 years when Michael Jordan started filling up arenas across the country.

But never has a team sold an opponent more than the New Jersey Nets will this upcoming season.
...

“The reality of the situation is that many of our fans like the opposing players and teams and that’s great,” said Nets chief executive Brett Yormark. “When you come to our games, the concessionaire is selling the opposing team’s jerseys, so why not give them away?”

NoLandGrab: Um, because your team loses tens of millions of dollars each year? But heck, the Nets already give away tons of tickets — why not toss in the jerseys, too?

The Internets [NY Daily News blog], Two sides to Nets' (desperate? smart?) jersey promotion

In an attempt to get more fans to their notoriously lowly-attended home games, the Nets have come up with a unique, or as they put it - "unprecedented," offer for tickets.

AP via USAToday.com, No Kidd or Carter, NJ Nets to market opponents

"The reality of the situation is that we target the casual sports fan in New Jersey and New York, " Nets chief executive Brett Yormark said. "As much as they like the Nets, they also like the opposing star players. The Match-Up plan enables us to market our players as well as the star players in the league. We're a young team, the NBA is a league of stars, and we're not ashamed to say that our fans are coming to watch the opposing star players as much as ours."

The loyal diehard fans on Nets Daily would beg to differ.

Yormark said the Nets have sold more than 1,000 new full-season tickets for the 2009-10 season during the summer.

NLG: First, one can never believe what Yormark says. Second, how many existing season-ticket holders didn't renew?

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Yormark's Silliest Marketing Deal Yet Derided By Nets Fans

Imagine DDDB selling reversible DDDB tshirts with a Forest City Ratner corporate logo on the other side. Well, don't imagine it.

Nets Daily has links to several more stories.

Posted by eric at 8:31 AM

August 13, 2009

Community cohesion? Plan to offer reversible jerseys irks Nets fans

Atlantic Yards Report

More genius marketing from the New Jersey Nets' marketing geniuses.

The long goodbye to New Jersey for the Nets, at least two more seasons (and likely three, and perhaps never), is continuing to take its toll, as the Brett Yormark-led front-office comes up with ever-more creative promotions that distance the team from its home state.

The team's new inducement to fans--buy a couple of ten-game packages and get reversible jerseys with opposing teams' stars (plus four weeks of the NY Post!)--is generating much derision.

Click thru for a sampling of that derision.

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NoLandGrab: We just have to say that we feel really, really sorry for Rod Thorn. Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark have turned the not-so-long-ago championship-contending Nets into a circus act.

Posted by eric at 6:31 PM

MORE “SUMMER OF LEBRON” SPECULATING

NETSARESCORCHING
by Mark Ginocchio

Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch sees two potential scenarios unfolding during the “Summer of Lebron.” He either stays in Cleveland or he jumps to New Jersey.

Calling one of Lebron’s other potential suitors, the New York Knicks “mismanaged and malodorous,” Arace adds that the Nets have the benefit of minority owner and rapper Jay-Z to help lure James while also having the cap space to potentially add another superstar, like Chris Bosh.

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NoLandGrab: Only LeBron knows what LeBron is going to do, and he likely doesn't know yet, either. But it's worth pointing out that the owners of the "mismanaged and malodorous" Knicks, the nearly universally maligned Dolan family, still ranked higher than Bruce Ratner in a recent ESPN ranking of pro team owners.

Posted by eric at 10:31 AM

August 12, 2009

The fact that they play in New Jersey is just a coincidence

Like Madonna, Sting and The Artist Formerly (and once again) Known as Prince, this team only needs one name.

SenateNJ.com, O’Toole: Nets Should Keep “New Jersey” on Their Jerseys

We reprint NJ State Senator Kevin O'Toole's press release in full.

Senator Kevin O’Toole, a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the decision by the National Basketball Association’s Nets to remove “New Jersey” from their road game uniforms:

“Enough is enough. New Jersey’s professional sports teams, the Nets, Jets and Giants, have no problem feeding at the taxpayer funded trough, yet seem to forget who their benefactors are when they order the teams’ uniforms.

“The taxpayers of this state have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure upgrades in the Meadowlands where all the teams play their home games. Is it too much to ask that professional sports teams that benefit from the support of the New Jersey taxpayer recognize the state on their uniforms?

“These teams make hundreds of millions of dollars a year. They should not receive a single concession from the state until they get an attitude readjustment.

“As for the Nets ‘regionalization efforts,’ the last time I checked, ground hadn’t been broken on a new arena in Brooklyn.”

NoLandGrab: Ouch. In fairness to the Nets, though, under the steady hand of Bruce Ratner, they lose tens of millions of dollars a year.

SLAM ONLINE, Uniforms Bring NJ Nets Political Heat

According to one member of the Senate, the Nets are lacking in state pride by removing the “New Jersey” from their road unis...

THE BSS REPORT, Jersey/C?

Is it too much to ask that professional sports teams that benefit from the support of the New Jersey taxpayer recognize the state on their uniforms?

I recognize that this move is to help prep people for the eventual move from East Rutherford to Brooklyn, but this seems to be yet another case of Bruce Ratner not giving a rat's ass about the state and fans of New Jersey, and instead trying to get people to see the "Brooklyn Nets" as soon as possible so that he can sell more merchandise in the new stadium.

NETSARESCORCHING, PUT NEW JERSEY ON YOUR JERSEY

When grandstanding politicians take on billionaire sports team owners it’s like the insufferable force vs. the unbearable object.

But that hasn’t stopped NJ Senate Minority Whip Kevin O’Toole (R-Cedar Groves) from calling on all sports teams that play in New Jersey to show their state pride by placing the words “New Jersey” somewhere on their uniforms (this also includes you Jets and Giants).
...

Of course, the Nets are the catalyst in all this after the team acknowledged they had stripped “New Jersey” off their new red road jerseys for the upcoming season. That could have something to do with that whole wanting to move to Brooklyn thing.

NLG: "Grandstanding politician?" Kevin O'Toole sounds OK by us.

Posted by eric at 2:25 PM

August 9, 2009

Uncertainty for the Nets and Atlantic Yards

Those who have been following the Atlantic Yards fight for the last few years may recall a time when the proposed project was a "done deal." Strong opposition has made project supporters worry about the future.

The Cleveland Leader, LeBron James Says "Fill in the Blanks" When Asked About Free Agency Next Season

In this item, the team is seen as definitely moving, but only "in the coming years."

It was bad news for Cleveland Cavaliers fans but hardly shocking. LeBron James implied at the launch of his new shoe the Air Max LeBron VII that he plans to test the free agent waters next season. He stated:

"I signed a contract in 2006 with an option. It would make no sense for me to sign that contract if I didn't keep my options open. I'll let you fill in the blanks."

Many observers feel that unless the Cavs win a championship, the Akron native will bolt to New York City to play for either the New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets who will be moving to Brooklyn in the coming years.

Hoopsworld, NBA Teams: Who's Moving Where?

Here, an arena in Brooklyn will "eventually be built."

The Nets still hope to begin building (and sell $850 in bonds to back construction costs) by the end of the year, but the trip over the Hudson River is proving far more complicated than anyone could imagine.

In February of 2007 things looked like they were about to get under way—then someone hit the breaks

The economy plummeted, citizen groups protested the project and everything became gridlocked with legalities. Debates over eminent domain ensued all the while Nets Owner Bruce Ratner was rumored to be looking for investors to help fund the project.

The good news for Ratner and the Nets is that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is on their side. And, assuming he holds onto that post, the local government should remain accommodating.

Even though there is the perfectly new Prudential Center (home of the NHL's Devils) sitting in Newark, the Nets desire an arena of their own. Even if the Atlantic Yards project doesn't reflect architect Frank Gehry's original design, the Barclays Center will eventually be built.

Currently the Nets rank 25th in the NBA in attendance while playing in East Rutheford's Izod Center.

Sporting News, Interview with Nets Center Brook Lopez

For this item, the "team may not ever be headed to Brooklyn."

Now that Vince Carter is no longer with New Jersey, and the team may not ever be headed to Brooklyn, it's all about moving on. With the exception of All-Star Devin Harris, no player is more important to their future than center Brook Lopez. After going No. 10 overall in the 2008 draft, the Stanford product worked hard, earned minutes, and finished the year as one of the league's most promising young big men. Along with his brother Robin, Brook's currently in Dallas, serving as a mentor to the Latin American team at the adidas Nations camp.

Posted by steve at 8:07 AM

August 3, 2009

Atlantic Division breakdown

Pro Basketball News
By Chris Bernucca

Though Atlantic Yards developer and NJ Nets owner Bruce Ratner will deny it, all signs indicate that the money-hemorrhaging team is positioned or a sale. From PBN's "detailed team-by-team look at the offseason."

NEW JERSEY NETS

Makeover mandate: Moving sale

Smartest move: The Nets needed building blocks and added one in shooting guard Courtney Lee, the key to the Vince Carter trade. Unloading Carter also opened up more salary cap room for next summer.

Biggest setback: The team's financial woes and the ongoing saga of the Atlantic Yards project led owner Bruce Ratner to put the team - or at least a portion of it - up for sale. That can't be good for luring free agents.

Feeling the draft: Terrence Williams was taken 11th overall and should be given a long look at small forward because it's obvious Bobby Simmons and Jarvis Hayes are not the long-term answers.

Summer fun: Yi Jianlian apparently has bulked up and is playing for China. In Orlando, the Nets and 76ers had a merged summer league team that did not provide enough opportunities for Williams and second-year guard Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Sleeper move: The expiring contracts of Rafer Alston and Tony Battie - also acquired in the Carter deal - will have value up to the trading deadline. As veterans with NBA Finals experience, they could be solid trade chips for GM Rod Thorn to move to a contender.

Biggest risk: With all the uncertainty swirling around the franchise, will any free agent really want to sign with the Nets?

Vacancies: None. Having exercised the options on all their young players, the Nets have 15 guaranteed contracts and don't appear to be a team willing to eat one to get better.

Overall grade: C. There's still some small-ticket items in the driveway. Everything must go!

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Posted by lumi at 5:10 AM

August 2, 2009

NetsDaily Off-Season Report #16

Nets Daily

This item by NetIncome mentions how references to "New Jersey" are being dropped as a way of "regionalizing" the team, though New Jersey fans will likely consider this a betrayal. Also interesting is the observation that the domain name "Brooklynnets.com" was already taken by someone outside of the Nets organization.

New York Nets

We were intrigued by Brett Yormark’s admission this week on ESPN 1050 that the Nets are dumping all sorts of New Jersey-tainted links. They started with the uniform shorts, removing that “NJ” triangle, then they replaced “New Jersey Nets” on their stationery with “Nets Basketball”, scrubbed references to New Jersey off the IZOD Center floor and most recently and most significantly erased “New Jersey” from road uniforms, opting for the red “Nets” uniform jersey. They’re selling out, those red jerseys, said Yormark.

All of it, he noted, is part of regionalizing the team in anticipation of the move to Brooklyn. The team even hinted at one point that they might change the name of the team from “Nets” to something more Brooklyn in character, although they seemed to have stepped away from that. Yormark is on the record as saying the team will be called “Brooklyn” somethings. Certainly, they’re prepared, marketing-wise, for the Brooklyn Nets. Ratner’s organization holds the rights to brooklynets.com (note the one “n” and that brooklynnets.com is held by an opponent to Atlantic Yards.)

The Nets are prepared to go all the way with their regionalization, if need be. They hold the trademark rights for “New York Nets” and “NY Nets” and have since Ratner bought the team updated them along with the “Brooklyn Nets” and “New Jersey Nets” trademarks (as well as “Brooklyn Basketball”, “Brooklyn Hoops”, “Brooklyn B-Ball”.) “Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment”, the unit that will run Barclays Center or at least book it has a trademark and a logo, based on the old Dodgers script. Expect to see more of that.

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Posted by steve at 8:36 AM

July 31, 2009

On the radio, Nets' Yormark continues to spin about housing, litigation, arena timing, and arena renderings

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder turns a critical ear to ESPN Radio's interview with truthiness-challenged Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

Yormark disavowed the renderings of the Ellerbe Becket-designed arena: "I hate to use the word leaked. They were inappropriate renderings, not approved by us.... 30-45 days, you'll see some great architecture."

As noted, even if they were leaked at first, they later appeared as illustrations in the Empire State Development Corporation's revised documents.
...

Yormark continued to repeat the canard about Forest City Ratner's alleged perfect record in court: "We're 25 and 0 in litigation."

First, many of those case involve not FCR but the Empire State Development Corporation. Also, and perhaps most importantly, the eminent domain appeal wouldn't have been put on the calendar of the state Court of Appeals in October if FCR and its allies had a perfect record.

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Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

Offseason: Raptors, Magic win with or without Hedo; Blazers not so lucky

CBSsports.com

Just yesterday, NJ Nets CEO Brett Yormark told ESPN radio, "we're having one of the best off-seasons that we've had in years."

Here's what sports writer Ken Berger's has to say about the Nets off-season:

Nets: With Carter gone and their dream of moving to a new arena in Brooklyn still on life support, the Nets might as well fly a white flag outside the IZOD Center. Is it any wonder that owner Bruce Ratner reportedly is looking to sell the team? As long as it's playing in New Jersey, who would buy it?

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Posted by lumi at 5:08 AM

July 30, 2009

State of the Union: New Jersey Nets

ESPN Radio [The Seth Everett Show]

Newark Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi and New Jersey Nets' CEO Brett Yormark give the reality and fantasy on the state of the Nets in back-to-back interviews with ESPN Radio's Seth Everett.

The award for best delusional Yormark line? A tie between "we're having one of the best off-seasons that we've had in years" and "I think the world of Nets basketball right now couldn't be better."

Other great (and equally untrue) claims: moving the Nets to Brooklyn is about jobs and affordable housing; half the housing units will be affordable; the "leaked" renderings were not approved by Forest City; and the Nets will be in Brooklyn for the 2011-2012 season.

listen

Posted by eric at 1:10 PM

July 28, 2009

Nets for sale not for sale for sale?

Here's a shocker: you can't get a straight answer out of Bruce Ratner, the Hamlet of NBA owners, or his flacks about whether or not he's looking to sell a large stake in his floundering New Jersey Nets.

SPORTSBIZ - THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS ILLUMINATED, Are the Nets For Sale?

The New York Post is reporting that Bruce Ratner, the commercial real estate developer and majority owner of the Nets has put the team up for sale. While the Nets deny this, as would be standard operating procedure, Nets officials confirm that the team is seeking investors, usual code speak for a sale.

NY Daily News, Source denies reports that Nets owner Bruce Ratner is shopping his team

A source close to Nets owner Bruce Ratner denied multiple reports that he is trying to sell all of or part of the team, saying that Ratner is merely fielding "inbound inquiries" from investors who want to come aboard before the team's planned move to Brooklyn.

A pair of reports published Friday said that Ratner is trying to unload at least part of the team due to financial issues and that he was looking for investors who are willing to move the team to Brooklyn to keep his long-delayed Atlantic Yards project intact.

NoLandGrab: Sure, people are beating down Bruce Ratner's door looking to get in on his excellent basketball team and ready-any-day-now Atlantic Yards project.

SportsBusiness Daily, Franchise Notes [Subscription required for full article]

Ratner Denies Reports He Is Looking To Sell Nets

In N.Y., Julian Garcia cited a source as saying that Nets Owner Bruce Ratner is "merely fielding ‘inbound inquiries’ from investors who want to come aboard before the team’s planned move.

HOOPSWORLD, State of the New Jersey Nets

Whatever state the New Jersey Nets are currently in—be it New Jersey, a state of repair, or even a state of fiscal turmoil—the franchise hopes it's only temporary.

More Nets news...

FOX Sports on MSN, The NBA's seven worst teams for next season

Columnist Charley Rosen thinks the Nets will be the NBA's worst team this coming season.

Even though getting rid of Vince Carter will give the youngsters more time and space in which to grow, the Nets could easily be the worst team in the league. That's because their roster is clogged with too many useless players — Yi Jianlian, Tony Battie, the chronically injured Eduardo Najera and Bobby Simmons. Also because Devin Harris is their only proven go-to scorer.
...

What a mess!

NLG: Sounds just like the owner's Atlantic Yards project!

The Back Page [NYPost.com], Nets called worst team in NBA

Posted by eric at 8:48 AM

July 27, 2009

Nets for Sale, BK in Doubt

SLAM
By Ben Osborne

A recovering Nets fan, basketball writer and former Prospect Heights resident, currently living in Essex County, NJ gives the Post's Steve Politi props for his "calm and reasonable destruction of the Nets’ shady owner."

As a member of the basketball media, I say I wish I could have written such a perfect piece. And as a former resident of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn and a current resident of Essex County, NJ, I’ll pre-empt my usual trip to the comment section on this one; just move to Newark!!!

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SportBusinessInternational, Ratner considers selling Nets stake

The New York Post had reported that Ratner wanted to sell the team, possibly retaining only a small interest.

Posted by lumi at 5:13 AM

July 26, 2009

The Newark solution? Optimism from Star-Ledger columnist seems a bit overblown

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder examines how realistic it might be to expect a move to Newark by the New Jersey Nets.

Star-Ledger sports columnist Steve Politi published two pieces on Friday about the possibility of a Nets move to Newark, not Brooklyn.

However, that move, while it makes sense logistically from a regional perspective--the Prudential Center in Newark is already built, and underutilized, while the Atlantic Yards arena is yet unbuilt--remains a stretch until and unless the plans for AY are further undermined.

The Newark move also makes sense from a federal perspective; Forest City Ratner would save well over $100 million, mostly from federal taxpayers, thanks to the issuance of tax-exempt bonds. But the Treasury Department grandfathered in the plan for bonds.

Newark's mayor, Cory Booker has been hopeful that the Nets could become tenants at the Prudential Center.

Booker has said that he was putting together a team of investors who could purchase the Nets and move them to the Prudential Center in Newark, but he has not had direct talks with team owner Bruce Ratner.

Booker shouldn't be surprised that Ratner wants investors to join the Brooklyn plan. If Ratner simply sells the team to Newark-bound owners, he loses much of the benefit of his investment in the AY plan.

Oder also implies that Atlantic Yards opponents should remain vigilant, rather than take comfort in Bruce Ratner's financial diffiulties.

Yes, Ratner is dismantling the Nets, from roster to front-office, and has lost the confidence of many fans. But I think he's just stretching as far as possible, and aims to regroup if and when the Nets move to Brooklyn.

And I don't know if I'd call opponents chances "excellent"? They're not insubstantial and there are a lot of question marks, but the city and state remain firmly behind the plan.

Finally, there is this assessment of when a move to Newark could happen:

The only way the Nets will move to Newark is if the project called Atlantic Yards dies.

link

Posted by steve at 9:25 AM

Truth and lies about Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Andrea McNulty

Daily News
By Mike Lupica

Here's more criticism of the way team owner Bruce Ratner has handled the New Jersey Nets.

You wonder how this all would have worked out for Bruce Ratner if he'd tried to bring the Nets to Brooklyn the right way.

Not using them to make a real estate score.

Not looking to turn the part of Brooklyn that the city and state handed to him into Ratner World.

Not with some Frank Gehry/Star Wars arena.

Just a basketball arena for a basketball team that would have brought professional sports back to the borough of Brooklyn.

But that wasn't enough for Ratner, and soon he'll be out of the Nets business and somebody else will own the team that can't get any better because there's no money.

Ratner will blame this on the economy, or Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, or Danny Goldstein, who led the resistance.

The person Ratner ought to blame is himself.

link

Posted by steve at 7:58 AM

Sources: Ratner Looks To Sell Nets

New York Post
By Fred Kerber

This article was not included in yesterday's round up of the news of a possible sale of the New Jersey Nets.

Faced with mounting financial losses that triggered cost-cutting throughout the organization, The Post has learned that Nets owner Bruce Ratner is actively investigating the feasibility of selling the team, despite a decidedly down seller's market, multiple team and league sources said.

In fact, several of the sources claim the team is definitely up for sale, though Ratner is determined to try to keep the team headed for Brooklyn and wants to maintain a piece of the team.

"I know definitely he has been thinking about doing it [selling]," one source close to the situation said. "But now is not the time. And if he sells, what about the building? Does he sell just the team? Then you're in New Jersey for a couple years losing a ton of money."

There have been "preliminary discussions" with some investors viewed as potential buyers, sources said, but the extent and seriousness of the talks were not clear.

"After this year, the Nets will have one of, if not the, lowest payroll in the league, which could make them attractive," said one source associated with the team. "That they're trying to sell is not even an issue any more."

"They're up for sale," a minority ownership source said flatly.

...

A critical component of the Brooklyn move will be the sale of an estimated $650 million in tax exempt bonds before a Dec. 31 deadline. The Empire State Development Corp. hopes to start issuing the bonds in September.

The Nets have reduced their office workforce by approximately 25 percent. Most non-basketball employees have faced Friday furloughs in the summer, reducing their pay by 20 percent. Assistant coaches accepted significant pay cuts in order to keep all of them employed -- rather than see one lose his job, the four remaining assistants on coach Lawrence Frank's staff agreed to salary reductions equal to the cost of one salary. The Nets thus far have been mute in free agency.

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Posted by steve at 6:05 AM

July 25, 2009

Ratner Trying to Find Investors for the Nets

Here is additional coverage of Bruce Ratner's attempts, first revealed yesterday, to get out from under his cash flow problems (a loss of $35 million in the past year alone) with the New Jersey Nets.

The Plain Dealer - Forest City talking to would-be investors in the New Jersey Nets
By Michelle Jarboe

Stories in the Newark Star-Ledger and the New York Post indicate that Forest City Ratner, the New York arm of Forest City Enterprises of Cleveland, is considering selling a stake in the New Jersey Nets basketball team.

A spokesman here in Cleveland says Forest City is not trying to divest itself of the team -- but the company has talked to from potential investors in the franchise. Forest City owns a 22 percent stake in the Nets and is the managing member of the investor group backing the team.

"At the moment we fully intend to continue to be an owner of the Nets basketball team," spokesman Jeff Linton said. "This is not our effort to sell the team."

The Nets are pivotal to Forest City's much-delayed and controversial Atlantic Yards project, a planned development that includes a basketball area named the Barclays Center. But the money-losing team is toting a heavy debt load. According to the Star-Ledger's report, more than 20 of the team's business employees have been laid off since September, and four members of the team's coaching staff took sizable pay cuts last week.

The Star-Ledger - Newark mayor Cory Booker not surprised by reports that NJ Nets are for sale
By Steve Politi

Newark mayor Cory Booker wasn't the least bit surprised at reports that the Nets are for sale -- he predicted that would happen months ago. What did surprise and disappoint him was hearing that the team was only looking at potential investors interested in moving it to Brooklyn.

"I have said from the beginning of this that the endeavor in Brooklyn is under a lot of challenges now, and I've said for months that the team is going to go up for sale," Booker said Friday at a musical festival in Newark.

"I'm discouraged a little bit that they're saying they're only going to sell to people who are going to stay in Brooklyn, but the reality is, we're going to do everything we possibly can to make sure that team stays in New Jersey. We need the revenue, we need the business opportunities. It really can become an economic engine for our state at a time when we need it."

Booker has said that he was putting together a team of investors who could purchase the Nets and move them to the Prudential Center in Newark, but he has not had direct talks with team owner Bruce Ratner.

ESPN - Friday Bullets

Nets owner Bruce Ratner -- now accepting investors. Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger says that if and when a suitor legitimately emerges, the team is likely Brooklyn-bound: "So far, nobody's buying. But according to numerous officials throughout the organization, Ratner may soon find someone to help alleviate the team's crushing debt load and facilitate the construction of the Atlantic Yards project, and the candidates range from the former CEO of Yahoo to a billionaire industrialist from Russia -- each of whom would still move the team from New Jersey."

Canadian Press - Nets owner Bruce Ratner looking for investors
By Tom Canavan

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner has been getting feelers from individuals interested in buying a piece of the struggling NBA team that hopes to move to Brooklyn in 2011.

"We have received interest from potential investors in the team," Nets chief executive Brett Yormark said in a statement the team sent on Friday. "That interest is growing as it is clear that we are moving to Brooklyn. Our ownership group is as committed as ever to the success of the Nets and to the Barclays Center."

A real estate developer who heads Forest City Ratner, Ratner bought the Nets in 2004. The team has seen its attendance drop the past two years as it missed the playoffs.

...

Ratner must start construction of the arena by the end of 2009 to qualify for tax-exempt bonds. The Nets have maintained that they will break ground before the deadline and move into the new arena for the 2011-12 season.

The arena is part of a project known as Atlantic Yards, where more than a dozen skyscrapers are planned on a 22-acre site. The project has been stalled by financing problems in a crippled real estate market, high-priced designs and lawsuits by residents opposing the use of some condemned property to build the arena. New York's top appeals court has agreed to hear a challenge to the state's use of eminent domain to obtain all the land for the project.

Ratner recently released Frank Gehry from designing the arena and all the other buildings in the project.

Posted by steve at 7:59 AM

July 24, 2009

It's all about cash flow: Ratner, according to report, pushing harder to sell part of Nets

Atlantic Yards Report

On Wednesday night, at the informational meeting on Atlantic Yards sponsored by three community boards, Forest City Ratner's MaryAnne Gilmartin was asked about reports that principal owner Bruce Ratner was selling the Nets to minority owner (and Brooklynite) Vinny Viola.

"That's not true," Gilmartin said.

Maybe so, but it was a narrow answer to a narrow question.

Nets for sale

As to whether Ratner may be selling the Nets to someone else, the headline on an article by Dave D'Alessandro of the Star-Ledger is New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner on verge of enlisting investors willing to move team to Brooklyn.

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Posted by eric at 8:45 AM

New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner on verge of enlisting investors willing to move team to Brooklyn

The Star-Ledger
By Dave D'Alessandro

It appears that Atlantic Yards developer and NJ Nets team owner Bruce Ratner is trying to sell the team to an ownership group that shares his vision of moving the team to Brooklyn:

[A]ccording to numerous officials throughout the organization, Ratner may soon find someone to help alleviate the team's crushing debt load and facilitate the construction of the Atlantic Yards project, and the candidates range from the former CEO of Yahoo to a billionaire industrialist from Russia -- each of whom would still move the team from New Jersey.

"I would be surprised if it doesn't happen fairly soon," said a high-ranking Nets official, who requested anonymity so as not to jeopardize Ratner's plans. "Bruce has looked into several options. He's had offers, he's made counteroffers, and at some point in time -- probably by the time the season gets under way -- something will transpire."

To what degree Ratner needs help is uncertain, even to some of the team's own investors. One who is admittedly skittish over the team's annual losses and the dubious plans for Brooklyn said earlier this week that Ratner needs "significant" financial assistance to keep the team afloat.

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DDDB.net, Ratner Desperately Seeking Buyers For His Share of Nets

Meanwhile, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn noted:

At last night's Atlantic Yards "informational meeting" Forest City Executive MaryAnne Gilmartin was asked if Forest City Ratner is looking to sell it share of ownership of the New Jersey Nets as has been reported, most recently, in Sports Illustrated.

Her one word answer was, "no."
...
It leaves us wondering (though not too hard): Are we to believe anything that comes out of the mouths of Forest City Ratner representatives?

Posted by lumi at 5:38 AM

July 13, 2009

NBA Execs "Impressed" With Nets as Planned Move to Brooklyn Is "In Tatters"

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

DDDB looks at a report praising the Nets front office's personnel moves — and panning ownership's blundering.

Surely the executives can't be impressed with the Nets numbers or their effort to get out of dodge. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

...Nets impress:

If you talk to executives around the league, many are impressed with what the New Jersey Nets have been doing.

They got out from under Vince Carter's contract and picked up a very good young player in Courtney Lee besides expiring contracts from the Orlando Magic. They now have three quality young pieces to build around: Lee, All-Star Devin Harris and promising young big man Brook Lopez. The Nets also get good draft picks coming their way plus a load of salary-cap space next summer.

The major problem is their plan to move to Brooklyn is in tatters, and their owner is quickly running out of money because they languish in one of the worst arenas in the NBA...

Mighty impressive!

link

Posted by eric at 9:30 AM

July 12, 2009

The Lawyer Who Freed Prince

ArticlesBase
By Alenka

This profile of attorney L. Londell McMillan has a fuzzy mention of his involvement in the proposed Atlantic Yards development. There's an implication that he's an investor in the project, but it seems more likely that he is an investor only in the New Jersey Nets. Either way, the team will not be playing in Brooklyn in 2009 as the article suggests.

McMillan is his own best advertisement. In addition to his personal real estate investments, he has partnered with Bruce Ratner, a real estate developer whose handiwork-the MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, for example-McMillan has esteemed since boyhood. "I admired his ability to develop big projects and interface in urban areas that many developers were less excited about investing in," says McMillan, who became one of several investors in Ratner's newest project, the Atlantic Yards, a $4.5 billion residential, retail and commercial development that will include co-ownership of the New Jersey Nets. As early as 2009, the team will move to Brooklyn and call the Yards' sports arena its new home. "It feels surreal to be part of a group that has its own team," says the former athlete. "It's gratifying to have equity in something I'd support as a fan."

link

NoLandGrab: It would probably be more gratifying to have equity in something that wasn't losing money.

Posted by steve at 7:54 AM

July 10, 2009

While Nets' attendance went down 3% last year, ticket revenue went down 29%

Atlantic Yards Report

Marketing genius Brett Yormark was apparently not quite so genius-y last season.

The New Jersey Nets in 2008-09 reported attendance of 15,147, a 3% drop from the reported attendance of 15,656 in the previous year.

But that apparently masked a far more significant decline in revenues. Ken Berger of CBSsports.com reports:
Fifteen teams suffered declines in gate receipts last season, the worst being the New Jersey Nets, whose ticket revenue declined $11.4 million, a 29 percent drop from 2007-08. It's no wonder the Nets want so badly to move to a new arena in Brooklyn.

I wrote last December about the history of inflated attendance figures at NBA arenas and especially Nets home games.

Why the discrepancy between the decline in revenue and the decline in reported attendance? It could be that the Nets last year inflated attendance even more. Or maybe they just gave away or discounted more tickets, thus filling seats but with less revenue.

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Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

No Kidd-ing

Elyria Chronicle-Telegram

J-Kidd doesn't think Jay-Z has much of a chance of convincing LBJ to play for BCR (Bruce C. Ratner).

Mavericks guard Jason Kidd — an Olympic teammate of LeBron James — chimed in on the never-ending James to New York in 2010 speculation, saying, “I would say (no) right now. He’ll stay in Cleveland.”

Kidd made the statement on Dan Patrick’s nationally syndicated radio show, where he also laughed off talk that James would join rap mogul and close friend Jay-Z with the New Jersey Nets.

“To play in Jersey?” he said using an incredulous tone.

Jay-Z is a part-owner of the Nets, who announced plans to move to a $1 billion arena complex in Brooklyn three years ago, but haven’t put a single shovel in the ground in the New York City borough. Their managing partner is Bruce Ratner of Cleveland’s famed Forest City business empire.

article (scroll down)

Posted by eric at 9:27 AM

July 3, 2009

ESPN The Magazine says Bruce Ratner is second-worst owner in pro sports

Atlantic Yards Report

ESPN Magazine likens Bruce Ratner's NJ Nets to a house guest that overstayed his welcome. Norman Oder explains why.

From the [ESPN Mag] entry:

Developer Bruce Ratner is starting to resemble that college friend who just wasn't ready to move on after graduation. Hey, Jersey, we're hitting snafus with that planned move to Brooklyn, so, ummm, ya mind if I crash here a while longer?

For the record, when Atlantic Yards was announced in December 2003, the Brooklyn arena was supposed to open in 2006. When the project received governmental approvals in 2006, the arena was supposed to open in 2009. Now Ratner projects 2011, though government agencies say 2012--and that's before lawsuits get resolved, bonds are sold, and shovels in the ground.

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Posted by lumi at 5:38 AM

July 2, 2009

Ultimate Standings 2009

ESPN The Magazine
by Morty Ain

NetsUltimateRankings.jpg

Congratulations, Bruce Ratner! You're the second worst owner in professional sports! (and the worst owner is bankrupt and is trying to sell his team to a guy who plans to move it out of the country!)

But don't worry, even with all that, you stand alone in last place when it comes to "Community Commitment."

Welcome to ESPN The Magazine's seventh annual Ultimate Standings, in which we measure how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them.
...

Developer Bruce Ratner is starting to resemble that college friend who just wasn't ready to move on after graduation. Hey, Jersey, we're hitting snafus with that planned move to Brooklyn, so, ummm, ya mind if I crash here a while longer? "I'd like to say we have the most hated owner in sports, but of course that's not possible," says Mike from Joenetsfan.com, "because a) Al Davis is still around, and b) Nets fans can't work up enough contempt to get stoic, let alone angry."

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See the complete, sortable rankings

More coverage...

Nets Daily, Ratner Ranked Second Worst Owner in Sports

Only the bankrupt owners of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes are ranked lower than Bruce Ratner in ESPN’s listings of all 122 professional sports teams. The Nets also sit 111th–third from the bottom in the NBA–overall. The “stadium experience” at the IZOD comes in 119th.

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

June 30, 2009

Clueless cheap owners?

NY Metro

MetroSoundingOff.jpg

Sound like anyone we know? You betcha!

Posted by eric at 1:54 PM

June 28, 2009

Another Word on Franchise Ownership – Beware the Real Estate Mogul

SPORTS BIZ BY SENNO

The first point specifically targets owners who try to use sports teams as pawns in a real estate project. Bruce Ratner is playing out this same game with the New Jersey Nets. He bought the team with the sole purpose of creating a mammoth development in Brooklyn with an arena, apartment buildings, and retail. The focus has been on his project, not the team for the past 5 years, as he has battled court cases, had his staff strike landmark sponsorship deals, hired and then fired a well-known architect, and for better or worse stirred controversy. Meanwhile, the team was forced to cut expenses and trade its best players, and is losing over $40 million a year. Admittedly, they probably needed to make the trades and start over from a player development perspective, but the franchise is in a holding pattern. Everything centers around “when the Nets move to Brooklyn” – the free agents will come, fans will come, profits will come.

The deal may never happen. Ratner reportedly wants to sell, another indication it will never happen. If that’s the case, they are stuck in the Meadowlands losing boat loads of money and have basically lost the last 5 years when they could have addressed the situation because Ratner was trying to leverage the team for a project to benefit his business.

Owners with real estate motives destroy franchises, then leave the problem to the next person. The franchise suffers, the league suffers, the fans suffer, and the players probably suffer. Given their control over the situation, leagues should recognize this type of deal and either prevent it or put stipulations in that prevent an owner from leveraging a franchise for real estate, ruining the team in the process, then walking out on it. The leagues should blame themselves – and do something about it.

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NoLandGrab: He means you, David Stern.

Posted by eric at 11:10 PM

Daily News Sunday Sampler

On NBA draft night, rich (Magic, Cavs) get richer . . . and so do Knicks!

OK, OK, but what about the Nets?

Anybody know why Ratner still owns this team? Once Ratner decided he had to cut back on players' salaries, due to yet another season of heavy financial losses, he returned the Nets to the land of losers. They could be have-nots for a while.

Fans didn't exactly flock to the Meadowlands this past season to see Carter. Now they're going to break the doors down to see Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie? Doubtful.

With the Carter deal, the Nets have opened more cap space for a run at free agents in 2010. But it remains to be seen if a single marquee player will commit to playing in New Jersey or Brooklyn or any place else Ratner has in mind.

Nets trade Vince Carter much to coach Lawrence Frank's chagrin

NOT FOR SALE? Four different groups are making offers to buy the Nets, including one headed by current minority owner Vincent Viola, according to si.com. But while not ruling out the possibility of a sale, Nets CEO Brett Yormark said interest in buying the team has increased only because of the team's impending move to Brooklyn and not because majority owner Bruce Ratner is looking to unload it.

"The current ownership group remains committed to the Nets and to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center," Yormark said.

Posted by eric at 10:54 PM

June 27, 2009

In Bruce We Don't Trust.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Are the Nets for sale? Of course they are!

Just days after Ratner panhandled the MTA and hoodwinked the ESDC, it appears that Ratner (who just traded his most expensive player and biggest star Vince Carter), claiming he is bringing the Nets to Brooklyn, is trying to unload his money hemorrhaging team on minority owner Vince Viola to move it to Brooklyn. But surely Ratner's gotta be hedging other bets and shopping the team to buyers who'd move the team elsewhere should the Atlantic Yards Barclays Center Hangar fall through.

What does it all add up to? What we've been saying all along: Ratner bought the Nets as leverage to control 22 acres in the heart of Brooklyn. But if he can't get the Nets to Brooklyn, then Vince Viola doesn't want 'em. And if he can't get the Nets to Brooklyn, he can't have those 22 acres.

link

Posted by steve at 8:33 AM

New Jersey Nets creating new identity in wake of Vince Carter trade

The Star Ledger
By Dave D'Alessandro

This article looks at what some of the team-building possibilities might be for the New Jersey Nets. The most interesting part is in the "Notes" section at the bottom of the article that show the difficulty team owner and blight-inducer Bruce Ratner continues to have in moving his team to Brooklyn.

The worst-kept secret in the NBA is that Nets owner Bruce Ratner needs investors to defray his operating costs, as the team has lost upwards of $35 million every year he's owned it. SI.com listed two viable candidates Friday: Brooklyn investor Vinny Viola, and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

The team did not deny that Ratner needs help getting the team to Brooklyn, but CEO Brett Yormark would only confirm that "we have received interest from potential investors" and "that interest is growing as it is clear that we are moving to Brooklyn."

article

Posted by steve at 7:46 AM

June 26, 2009

Note from a Fan - Time to Sell

Nets Daily
by NetIncome

Bruce Ratner finally broke NetIncome/Bobbo's spirit.

Let’s face it. This franchise is a mess.

After yesterday’s trade and last night’s draft pick, the New Jersey Nets are back where they were in 2000, a mismanaged operation that is a joke to its fans and the larger NBA universe.

It’s traded away its stars. It plays in the worst venue in the NBA, if not professional sports. Its fan base is shrinking and its move to Brooklyn questionable at best. Its respected basketball managers spend most of their time making excuses for an owner who is increasingly unavailable and when he does speak says little anyone believes.

There is no longer trust between those who are most passionate about the team and those who own and manage it. And quite frankly, it’s not going to get better any time soon. In fact, it is likely to get worse. It’s hard to root for the New Jersey Nets…or if you prefer, the Brooklyn Nets or the New York Nets.

It would be best for those running the team to say what the reality is: the decisions that have been made the last year and a half have made to save money. If the team got anything in return, it was a bonus. And the decision to dump Vince Carter along with other recent decisions was not made in the Nets’ corporate offices in East Rutherford or even Forest City Ratner’s offices in Brooklyn. It was most likely made in Cleveland, home of Forest City Enterprises, which assumes 54% of the team’s ever increasing losses and has seen its stock lose 75% of its value. Not good numbers.

The biggest canard of course is that this was done to help the “cap”, with front office types citing those big numbers that will be available next summer in the summer of free agency. No, it wasn’t. It was done to save money because the team is hemorrhaging it. Moreover, this looked like an operation that is up for sale even before the Sports Illustrated revelations. Companies looking to sell do all the things the Nets have done in the past several months: cut staff, shrink investments and, most of all, dump long term costs and conserve cash. This isn’t “Batten down the hatches. There’s a storm a-coming”. This is “Get me out of here”.

link

NoLandGrab: Mr. Income had no problem with Bruce Ratner running roughshod over Prospect Heights, stealing homes and money from taxpayers. But ruin his basketball team? That's just wrong.

Boo hoo.

Posted by eric at 2:19 PM

Nets for Sale?

Atlantic Yards Report, Nets for sale? SI says rumors explain Carter trade; deal contingent on Brooklyn move

So, Sports Illustrated reports that the Nets might be for sale, but not to an ownership group--as Newark Mayor Cory Booker contends is in the wings--that would keep them in New Jersey.

Rather, the sale is contingent on the move to Brooklyn, which certainly makes sense. Should a new arena be built, there would be new revenues and the value of the team would go up. I just thought the [added: increasing talk about a] sale would happen closer to the opening of the new arena.

Sale allowed by state

A clause in the Empire State Development Corporation's General Project Plan, as I wrote in December 2006, states, in part:
In addition, in the event the Nets professional basketball franchise is sold to another entity prior to the completion of the Arena, Project Sponsors may transfer their interest in the Arena to the purchasing entity or its affiliate, provided ESDC and the City are reasonably satisfied that such entity can satisfactorily complete the development of the Arena or if such entity retains the Project Sponsors to develop the Arena.

Potential owners

The potential owners include minority owner and native Brooklynite Vinny Viola (profile via NetsDaily's NetIncome/Bobbo) but also a group headed by the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov owns Euroleague champion CSKA Moscow. And there are two other potential groups.

NoLandGrab: "I just thought the sale would happen closer to the opening of the new arena." Does Norman Oder know something we don't? If not, he's being a bit "conclusory" himself, since this is just the latest Nets-for-sale rumor. [Update: Oder added a qualifier to his post.]

In addition, if Ratner did sell the team, who would hold the arena lease? Ratner or the new team owner? Who would own the revenue streams? Without any answers to those questions, it's hard to evaluate the plusses and minuses of Brookly