NBA Commissioner David Stern had to sit down with Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks owners, Mikhail Prokhorov and James Dolan, to warn them to cool the rivalry down early last season, according to Fred Kerber of the NY Post.
This was a reaction to Prokhorov putting up a giant, 22-story billboard with pictures of him and Jay Z and the quote, “Blueprint for Greatness,” right next to Madison Square Garden in July 2010 before the Nets moved to Brooklyn. Dolan, upset by the gesture, called the league to complain and complained again when when Prokhorov called him “that little man” in New York Magazine last year.
Prokhorov was reportedly antagonizing the Knicks because he supposedly thinks stoking the rivalry is good for business. The two sides sat down last season though and seemed to have come to some sort of understanding.
“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 told the Post.
This all happened before the Nets traded for Paul Pierce which has since ramped up the back and forth. At the introductory press conference for Pierce, he refused to talk about the Knicks and purposefully didn’t mention them when he listed the top teams in the East. During the presser Prokhorov’s only shot was a mild one and said of Dolan, “he’s watching us for the time being.”
Since the press conference Pierce has been much more vocal saying that and said mockingly that Madison Square Garden is his favorite place to play because he’s had so much success there. He added during a radio interview, “it’s time for the Nets to start running this city.”
Spike Lee also added that, “Paul Pierce is talking crazy.”
It certainly needs to be noted that each team’s front offices are working together cordially this offseason as they have planned to share the 2015 All-Star Game and are working out the details to share the 2017 All-Star Game as well.
Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is that Dolan feels like he needs to go crying to the league. I mean, if Prokhorov’s intentions are building a rivalry it certainly seems like it is working. Last season’s Nets/Knicks games were intense and close matchups down to the final second. This year’s games are already some of the most anticipated of the season. I’m certainly not saying that the Nets are going to take over the city anytime soon, but it’s going to be great television watching them try.