nba_a_prohorov_200The National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets, a team once known as the New Jersey Americans, will now, in all likelihood, be owned by a Russian (gasp).

Mikhail Prokhorov (left), Russia’s richest man and renowned playboy (he was once held for four days in France for questioning about his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring but was never charged — we’re gonna love this guy!), said yesterday that he has reached a deal with Nets owner Bruce Ratner to purchase 80 percent of the NBA franchise and nearly half of the proposed arena, residential and retail project that would house the team in Brooklyn. Prokhorov is well-known for his penchant for beautiful women and private jets (wait until he meets Nets minority owner Jay-Z), but he is also a passionate basketball fan who played as an amateur in Russia  during his youth. The deal would need to be approved by three-fourths of the league’s board of governors, but if league commissioner David Stern has his way, the deal will be okayed and Prokhorov will become the league’s first non- North American owner.

“Interest in basketball and the NBA is growing rapidly on a global basis, and we are especially encouraged by Mr. Prokhorov’s commitment to the Nets and the opportunity it presents to continue the growth of basketball in Russia,” Stern said in a statement.

However, local whiners in Brooklyn have not given up their fight to stop progress.  Leading the chorus is a group called Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (catchy) that claims that Ratner is untrustworthy and has done everything in their power to derail the project.  An eminent domain challenge is to be heard by the state’s Court of Appeals, but since every ruling has gone against those who oppose the project, there is little reason to believe that the project will not be a go, and the Nets won’t be moving to Brooklyn in 2011 (Huzzah!).

Water Cooler Cheat Sheet

In most water-cooler type conversations, you will only be required to utter one or two throwaway lines in order to appear knowledgeable.  We’re here to help.

“So the guy’s a little shady.  Who really cares who wns the team? I’m excited for the Nets to be coming to Brooklyn. It may even make the team relevant again.”

To the Brooklyn faithful: Like it or not, the Nets are moving to Brooklyn, so it’s time get on the winning side.  NBA Action — It’s Fan-Tastic!