After the groundbreaking of the Barclays Center, it looked like a Nets’ move to Brooklyn was a lock, but as it has been the case with the move, something got in the way. Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a New Jersey congressman says was demanding a government inquiry into Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire poised to buy the New Jersey Nets, for his extensive business dealings in Zimbabwe. Now, I am not going to pretend to be someone who knows the laws, but in my opinion this was just political grandstanding from someone looking to gain some popularity. It also should be mentioned that when the Nets leave New Jersey, so does a pretty large chunk of money. So while Mr. Pascrell Jr. might have had some good intentions about questioning the deal, I refuse to believe ethics was the sole (or most important) reason.
Mikhail Prokhorov and David Stern were quick to respond to these attacks (from Dave D’Alessandro)
Prokhorov’s corporation, Onexim Group, issued a statement calling the New York Post report that on which Pascrell based his allegation “erroneous,” insisting that “the company and all its holdings have always been in strict compliance with all United States and European rules regarding Zimbabwe and we have no dealings whatsoever with companies or individuals on the sanctions list.”
The NBA, which came under criticism by Pascrell for a lax vetting process, took it a step further: The league said Pascrell had the wrong interpretation of the law.
“U.S. companies are not prohibited from doing business in Zimbabwe; rather, they are prohibited from conducting business with specifically identified individuals or entities in that country,” the league said in a statement. “The NBA is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or entities.”
The statement reiterated that Prokhorov’s application is “still on track to be voted on by the NBA Board of Governors once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site.”
After this issue was swept under the rug, that left one more thing in the way of Brooklyn for the Nets. Daniel Goldstein and Develop Don’t Destory Brooklyn. Yesterday, that “problem” seems to be taken care of as Daniel Goldsteinagreed to move out of his home May 7 after reaching a deal with Bruce Ratner that will pay him $3 million.
Three million dollars is a ton of money, and it is just about 5 times what he paid for the residence, but it seems like Ratner feels that he is so close to getting this done, that paying him the three million was worth it in the long run (from the Times):
But on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Goldstein, the last residential holdout in Mr. Ratner’s way, agreed to walk away from his apartment by May 7 for $3 million. Mr. Goldstein, 40, also agreed to step down as spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, the main group opposing Atlantic Yards. And he said he would withdraw from any litigation and not “actively oppose the project,” although he said he held on to his First Amendment rights.
“There’s no end to the criticism and opposition to the project,” Mr. Goldstein vowed.
Still, the settlement marked the end of a David-versus-Goliath fight that has captivated Brooklyn for years — or, depending on one’s position on the issue, thwarted its progress. Councilwoman Letitia James, a longtime ally of Mr. Goldstein’s, said that some opponents of Atlantic Yards “will obviously be disappointed, but not dissuaded” from fighting the project.
Goldstein also said that a big chunk of his money will go to “lawyer fees,” but it is hard to feel bad for someone who just made a killing because he happened to live in a certain area (and it wasn’t as if he was a long-living member of the area – he moved in just before the project was announced). With Goldstein out of the way, there is now “vacant possession” of the properties, which as been the final obstacle standing between Prokhorov and ownership of the Nets.
It is now started to feel like Brooklyn is going to happen, but in the year this blog has been online I feel like I have typed that over 15 different times. Hopefully this is the time that we are finally correct, because even as a Net fan in New Jersey, I know that the move to Brooklyn is the right thing for this franchise. Anything that gives the Nets a competitive advantage (Brooklyn attracts more fans, more interest, and hopefully more free agents) is something I can get behind. However, I won’t allow myself to get behind this 100% until I know for sure that it is going to happen, and with everything that has happened with the Barclays Center and Brooklyn, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else tried to get in the way of this thing.