Bruce Ratner

The Nets & Knicks split the season series, but the Knicks pulled ahead in the battle for Nassau. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets & Manhattan/New York Knicks have a budding on-court rivalry, after splitting their first season series playing home games in the same city 2-2, but the rivalry doesn't just exist on the basketball court.

Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner and Madison Square Garden/New York Knicks owner James Dolan both placed a bid to redevelop Long Island's Nassau Coliseum (the current home of the New York Islanders, and also an eyesore), and the bids were allegedly competitive -- until a Long Island developer backed Dolan's bid, knocking Ratner into a distant second.

The reason given by the bidder?... MORE →

 

Bruce Ratner (AP)

Five New York City Mayoral candidates spoke out at a forum this week in Park Slope against Forest City Ratner, for FCRC's failure to build promised housing at the Atlantic Yards project site.

John Liu, Bill Thompson Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, and George McDonald threatened to penalize FCRC for the delays:... MORE →

 

There's some debate about the precise words in the new Jay-Z song, especially in terms of who, exactly, he was calling an effing dweeb. Devin heard it as:

"Would've brought the Nets to Brooklyn for free. Except, I made millions off of you f***ing dweeb. I still own the building, I'm still keeping my seats, you buy that bulls***, you better keep your receipts.

Some heard it as made millions off "it" instead of "of."  Either way, at the risk of over-interpreting a bunch of rap lyrics, it sounds like Jay-Z thinks:

a) He single-handedly brought the Nets to Brooklyn.  I guess Bruce Ratner, Mikhail Prokhorov, Marty Markowitz and the many other people who have been agitating for a Brooklyn team for years, were irrelevant.  The Nets came to Brooklyn because Jay-Z decided it should be so. And, "I still own the building."   He was no doubt very important in creating the brand but even accounting for normal celebrity trash talk, this sounds a bit too much like The Donald.

b) Nets are suckers.  Whether he's mocking a particular Nets executive or the entire deal, he's saying the Nets  could have gotten his help for free but they paid him!  Ha ha ha ha.  (By the way, the Nets did just fine in this relationship: whatever they paid, they probably got their money's worth in terms of brand-buffing and publicity.)

It's quite possible that Jay-Z was mostly intending to push back at those who made fun of him for having a small stake in the team.  That seems to have really gotten under his skin, which is a weird thing to care about.  So he's saying, "you think I had a small stake!  Well then how come I made millions!  Still think I was used??"

But whatever his motivation, the combination of him selling his shares to go off and make some more money as an agent and this Nets-whack makes it slightly harder to think of him as the Nets Number One Fan in quite the same way.  He was supposed to be our Spike Lee. This week, at least, he's sounding more like our Donald Trump.

 

Bruce Ratner

Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner (AP)

via Crain's New York Business:... MORE →

 

  • Andray Blatche, livin' the life.
  • The NBA news of the day: The Oklahoma City Thunder trade James Harden, along with Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Daequan Cook, to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks (one guaranteed lottery) and one second-round pick. The Thunder chose to trade Harden rather than give him a max contract, amounting roughly to a $1 million difference per year between sides before the luxury tax.
  • Denis Hamill, writing at the Daily News, calls Barclays Center The House that Bruce Built. My take: Ratner may have conceived the plan, but without Mikhail Prokhorov's bailout and Jay-Z's cultural influence, this building plops in the middle of Brooklyn with more controversy than fanfare. Also, The Black House is a better name.
  • Andray Blatche responds to taunts from the Knicks bench in the final preseason game: "They’re wasting their energy. I don’t know (Shumpert). He wasn’t playing, so he had to do something. You sitting on the bench with a suit on you have to do something.”
  • Knicks center Tyson Chandler has a "very good chance" of playing opening night.
  • Is Raymond Felton an upgrade over Jeremy Lin? One all-star point guard thinks so. Also, a friendly reminder.

 

Barclays Center released information regarding a "major announcement" at 1 P.M. today, and it appears that announcement is that the New York Islanders, who currently play on Long Island, will join the Nets in Brooklyn and play their home games in Barclays Center in 2015.

From the NY Post:

Developer Bruce Ratner has scored a major goal by landing the Islanders ice hockey team for his Barclay's arena in downtown Brooklyn, sources said.

The announcement was expected at a press conference this afternoon with Ratner, Mayor Bloomberg, Islanders owner Charles Wang, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

Also: the NHL is currently locked out.

 

LEADING OPPONENTS OF ATLANTIC YARDS


Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn
:
A coalition of civic activists, writers Jonathan Lethem, Jonathan Safran Foer), musiscians, actors (Steve Buscemi) and area residents opposed to the project. The press release they issued September 28 declared, “Atlantic Yards – It's A Crime!
Community Organizations Join to Call for a 
New Plan at Atlantic Yards
Brooklyn Was Promised Much More Than an Arena”

Atlantic Yards Report: The most prolific opponent of Atlantic Yards is blogger/Journalist Norman Oder, author of the Atlantic Yard Report. He’s covered nearly every aspect but the closest he came to a 50,000-foot sum-up and overview was his recent piece: “Atlantic Yards and the Culture of Cheating” He reviews what he says was deception by Forest City Ratner throughout the project, including on promises related to jobs, low income housing, eminent domain and traffic:

“There's no legal corruption. But Atlantic Yards relies upon what I'd call a "culture of cheating," a term inspired by The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, a book by business ethicist David Callahan.

It's an ends-justify-the-means shamelessness and betrayal of promises that pervades the project, involving, at various times, project promoters, consultants, lawyers, and community partners. And that cheating has been too often ignored or papered over by the press.”

... MORE →

 

Today, Malcolm Gladwell published a must-read piece for Grantland on the Nets and NBA economics.

A few bullet points Gladwell highlights:

  • Bruce Ratner never cared about basketball. We all knew that already, but it's a good reminder that Ratner's only goal was to take over Atlantic Yards, and he needed a stadium to do that. Enter moving a franchise to Brooklyn. Enter the Nets. Today's press conference bolstered this, when Ratner explicitly stated his priority is to bring "events" to the Barclays Center -- not basketball.
  • Ratner lost a ton of money trying to make this happen, only in the beginning. That's true -- hate him or not -- but it's simplistic to point only in that direction. The recession didn't help, and Mickey P saved the franchise financially.

    But that doesn't mean anyone should feel bad for Ratner; the Barclays Center has already paid huge dividends, and there's more coming. Between eminent domain, $400 million in naming rights, and that Ratner stands to make roughly $35 million per year on the Barclays Center (about 10% ROI), the rich will assuredly get richer.

  • Gladwell calls out David Stern for championing the Nets as a model for economic failure, when the returns they stand to make on the Barclays Center alone are potentially "explosive," in Prokhorov's own words. He then ends the article with this quote:

    In the end, this is the lesson of the NBA lockout. A man buys a basketball team as insurance on a real estate project, flips the franchise to a Russian billionaire when he wins the deal, and then — as both parties happily count their winnings — what lesson are we asked to draw? The players are greedy."

I'm an outside party with no economic background. I have no idea who's right or wrong in the NBA lockout. Some -- like Gladwell -- say that the owners are greedy, and to argue that their teams are 100% business with no psychic benefit is nothing short of fantastical. He's right, of course, to some extent. That doesn't mean that owners aren't losing money, but I don't know how to accurately evaluate that difference from an economic standpoint. That's why I try to avoid offering solutions to this enormous problem; not only do I have no expertise, I frankly don't care much who gets what. I'm an observer. I have no financial stake. I'd just like to watch Deron Williams play, preferably on this side of the world.

That said, you don't need financial expertise to detect BS from billionaires, and Ratner laid it on thick today about youth -- citing the prospect of a child seeing their first circus at the Barclays Center as his driving inspiration. Come on, Bruce. If this didn't give you the opportunity to make boatloads of money, you wouldn't do it. I'm sure that Barclays will do a lot for kids, but it's not about them.

The sad truth, though, is that Ratner can always pretend otherwise. We can paint him as a greedy, dirty billionaire as much as we want (fair or not), and he'll remain a billionaire. That's the game. I'd just rather watch a different one.