New York City is embroiled in a basketball renaissance with the Nets moving to Brooklyn and acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett this off-season and the Knicks winning their first postseason series since 2000. But they haven’t been playing nice in the press, and NBA commissioner David Stern has taken steps to squash any festering animosity between the team’s owners.
Sources tell the New York Post that commissioner Stern facilitated a meeting between Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Knicks owner, Garden Chairman and Cablevision CEO James Dolan.
“There was such a meeting and the parties both said it was a very cordial and pleasant one,” a league official with knowledge of the sit-down told the Post. The meeting happened early last year.
Another said the meeting was “cordial and friendly.”
According to the Post, the animus between the outrageously wealthy owners stemmed from a July 2010 billboard — featuring Prokhorov and minority owner/advisor Jay-Z with the words “Blueprint for Greatness” — unveiled near Madison Square Garden before the Nets moved into the just completed Barclays Center. The volatile Dolan was infuriated when he saw billboard so close to the Knicks’ home.
Dolan called the league office to complain about the 22-story billboard, like he had done earlier when Prokhorov called him a “little man” in a New York Magazine profile (you just know Dolan was a tattle-tale in middle school). Stern and the league had apparently had enough and convened the meeting to stifle the simmering hostility between the billionaires.
The meeting seems to have worked with Prokhorov saying of Dolan during the press conference formally introducing Pierce and KG, “he’s watching us for the time being.”
But while Prokhorov and Dolan have kept the peace after Stern put the Kibosh on their New York rivalry, no such warning has been issued to Paul Pierce. The Truth has gone out of his way to stoke the embers of antipathy between the East River rivals, continuing his dislike for the Knicks from his days in Boston.
J.R. Smith came back after Pierce’s comments and said the Knicks were the marquee team in New York, while most recently point guard Raymond Felton has gotten into the borough battle.
One thing’s for sure though, the inter-city battle for New York, is real, but for as long as Stern remains in power — he retires in February next season — the owners won’t be getting in on the verbal slings and arrows. If they do, Stern will reproach them a little more severely. You don’t mess with Stern.
What do you think?
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