Thursday, September 24, 2009

Soviet Russia: Where Amazing Happens

North America's most global pro sports organization is about to get real global.

Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov has agreed to buy 80 per cent of the New Jersey Nets and move them to Brooklyn (take that, Jay-Z!), along with half of the project to build a new arena there.

(Side note: being known as a "tycoon" is one of the coolest titles a man can have. Right up there with "rockstar" and "international playboy.")

The 6-foot-6 Prokhorov is a former amateur baller, but there's no question he's been "ballin" for years now; he often rolls with an entourage of gorgeous women on private jets, and was questioned - but never charged - in a prostitution investigation.

How rich is this guy? He lost $7 billion in the global recession, and is still the wealthiest man in Russia. He makes Mark Cuban look like a CFL owner.

The Nets have been rumoured to be moving to the New York City borough for a while now, but it looks like it will finally be a reality. And with the proposed arena location a few miles from famed Russian enclave Brighton Beach, this appears to be, if you'll pardon the obvious reference, a slam dunk.

This I think is the real problem with the ongoing Phoenix Coyotes/Jim Balsillie saga. Sure, Balsillie is a kabillionaire, but he's a Canadian kabillionaire, which doesn't hold as much weight as, say, a Russian kabillionaire who may or may not control an underground prostitution ring. These guys get shit done; they wouldn't be taking guff from some retirement-community town.

Quasi-update: Wayne Gretzky stepped down as Coyotes head coach/director of player operations. Cancel all those #99 Gretzky jerseys, Hamilton!

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