One of the worst teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) is now going to cause wailing and gnashing of teeth overseas, as the New Jersey Nets are about to be purchased by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.
On Wednesday, Prokhorov announced that he has a deal to purchase 80 percent of the Nets, along with almost half of a project to build a new basketball arena for them in Brooklyn. The deal would make Prokhorov the first non-North American owner in the NBA.
The Nets' principal owner Bruce Ratner has been attempting to move the Nets to Brooklyn so he can build an arena in his Atlantic Yards development, a proposed neighborhood of retail and residential projects. Such a move would provide Brooklyn with its first professional sports franchise since the Dodgers' 1957 departure for Los Angeles.
The question is, would Brooklyn welcome one of the NBA's worst franchises? We now live in a time where the consumer is a bit more reluctant to give up cash. Prokhorov will need to put a winning product on the court in order to make money here.
However, let's not dwell just on the Nets and the impact this purchase could have on the team -- what does it mean for the NBA? League Commissioner David Stern has long touted the global appeal of basketball, and this purchase would certainly demonstrate the game's global pull. A foreign owner in the NBA would only help enhance the game's global popularity.
But would such a move fly in baseball or football? The NFL is trying to expand its reach by playing games in Europe -- but NFL Europe was a failure. Furthermore, I don't think I have to worry about rooting for the Moscow Reds anytime soon. With the influx of foreign players and now a foreign owner, it seems that the global pull of the NBA has made the team -- originally known as the New Jersey Americans -- a hot Russian commodity.