Just in case you’re wondering, no, this isn’t the Sopranos, or the latest Martin Scorcese flick – this is NBA basketball in New York City.
According to a report by the NY Post, NBA commissioner David Stern ordered New York Knicks owner James Dolan and Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov to engage in a cordial “sit down” when the commissioner deemed that things were getting too testy between the rival franchises who are now fighting for the hearts, minds and wallets of New York City basketball fans.
“There was such a meeting and the parties both said it was a very cordial and pleasant one,” said one league official with knowledge of the sit-down, which happened early in the season.
While it’s not a huge surprise that the NBA wants to see the Knicks and Nets play nice, a little good natured ribbing is always a good thing for two competing franchises.
One source maintained Prokhorov stokes the rivalry fires because he believes the feud “is great for both teams” and insisted it is “not at all personal” against Dolan, the Garden chairman and Cablevision CEO.
One July morning in 2010, Knicks Nation awoke to a Godzilla-sized rendition of Prokhorov and then team advisor and minority share owner Jay-Z plastered on the side of a building near Madison Square Garden proclaiming a “Blueprint for Greatness” as the Nets readied their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.
According to several sources, Dolan was furious about the 22-story, 21,375 square-foot billboard and called league officials to complain—a tactic he repeated last year after Prokhorov referred to him as “that little man” in a New York Magazine article.
Enough, said the league. Is this any way for the two New York teams, who plan to share the 2015 All-Star Game, to act? So the league wanted the two men in the same room in an attempt to squash any lingering animosity and to prevent additional hostility.
At the press conference announcing the acquisitions of Kevin Garnett, Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko last month, Prokhorov gave only a veiled dig at Dolan, saying, “he’s watching us for the time being.”
One has to wonder just how irked Dolan and Prokhorov were by this meeting. Sure, the two sides say the meeting was cordial, as I’m sure it was, but still, nothing gets rich guys more fired up than being told what to do by other rich guys. With the rivalry between the two franchises in full swing, there is no way that the Knicks and the Nets are looking out for each others best interests as Prokhorov eluded too.
Make no mistake about it, there is blood in the water, and after the big acquisitions by Brooklyn this offseason, it’s your move James Dolan.