Culture of Hoops

Mikhail Prokhorov Barks At James Dolan, Ready To Bite

Mikhail Prokhorov, majority owner of the Brooklyn Nets, is not a very shy man. He’s basically shown off his baller status by having his jet skiing exploits and ability to handle an automatic rifle televised on “60 Minutes” and is known for being a regular Lothario with the ladies. Prokhorov is brash, bold, and braggadocious. In other words, he’s perfect for New York.

Unless you’re James Dolan.

Dolan, the New York Knicks owner is known for hiking up ticket prices, taking bad advice from Isaiah Thomas, and singing horribly in a band named after himself. However, making money, listening to the wrong people, and owning a sense of entitled ego are also New York qualities, particularly downtown in Wall Street.

Clearly, this is going to be a great thing for basketball and New York City itself to see how this budding Nets and Knicks rivalry will unfold, both on the court and off. It won’t just be about Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and the rest of the Brooklyn crew versus Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and the other Knickerbockers, but also a battle between the billionaires, Prokhorov versus Dolan.

Thus far, it’s mostly been a one-sided affair as Prokhorov utilizes his foreign charm and money to stick it to the Knicks, but the team in Manhattan easily outperforming the Nets on the hardwood. However, with a franchise player in D-Will locked up for the next five years, the acquisition of Johnson, a healthy Lopez, and a new arena in the Barclays Center, it’s very possible the Nets will be able to match, if not exceed, what those inhabitants of The Mecca have done recently.

So, expect Prokhorov to have a bit more confidence and behave a bit more badly as he did recently when he referred to Dolan as “that little man.” It’s as if Prokhorov is on the court himself and talking a tamer form of Gary Payton junk as he drives by a broken-ankled Dolan. “Where you at, JD?”

Now, the question of good form, etiquette, and sportsmanship does come up regarding this jocular behavior. Should one owner make fun of another owner by attacking a physical feature? It depends.

Prokhorov and Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, have gotten into verbal skirmishes with the former challenging the latter to a kickboxing fight. All in good fun, of course. However, both of their personalities are publicly very passionate, playful, and full of spirit. Dolan’s personality is not, which is fine. However, his seething and complaining behind closed doors makes him look like a punching bag for Prokhorov and the Russian billionaire seems more than accommodating to take his verbal jabs while Dolan says nothing in retort.

It’s a classic, “Let the dog keep barking because there’s no bite whatsoever” type of deal. Dolan could easily just lay back in the cut as his team made the playoffs and the Nets languished in suckitude. However, that was before this summer as the Nets are looking primed to finally make the playoffs after a five-year absence. The Brooklyn Nets are ready to excel and Mikhail Prokhorov is growling, ready for that first real bite.

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