NBA defends Russian tycoon
The NBA believes a New Jersey congressman was “misinformed” when he
criticized the potential new owner of the Nets for business
dealings in Zimbabwe.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell asked Treasury Secretary Timothy
Geithner on Sunday to investigate whether Russian tycoon Mikhail
Prokhorov violated U.S. economic sanctions by doing business in the
southern African nation run by President Robert Mugabe.
The congressman also sent a letter to NBA commissioner David
Stern asking if the league’s background checks uncovered
Prokhorov’s businesses in Zimbabwe.
League spokesman Mike Bass said Pascrell was misinformed
discussing the sanctions.
“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,”
Bass said. “The NBA is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov
is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or
Prokhorov agreed last December to buy 80 percent of the Nets
and 45 percent of the planned Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.,
from Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Ratner Cos.
“Mr. 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,” Bass said.
Prokhorov’s Onexim Group said it has been open and
transparent about all their business dealings throughout the
extensive NBA review process and they intend to maintain that
“Onexim Group takes very seriously the issue of law and
sanctions as applied to Zimbabwe,” it said in a statement.
“Contrary to erroneous media reports, the company and all of its
holdings have always been in strict compliance with all United
States and European rules regarding Zimbabwe and have had no
dealings whatsoever with companies or individuals on the sanctions
Prokhorov has been seen as somewhat of a savior for the Nets,
who will be at least $23 million under the salary cap heading into
the offseason. The billionaire has the money to spend on free
agents, and this might be a bumper crop with LeBron James, Dwyane
Wade, Chris Bosh and Rudy Gay all eligible to go on the market.
For much of this season, the Nets threatened to break the NBA
mark for fewest wins (nine) in a season, set by the 1972-73