Saturday, October 10, 2009

ESPN's Simmons: the "Russian Mark Cuban" wouldn't have been allowed to buy a team five years ago, but now might lure LeBron

From ESPN Page 2 columnist Bill Simmons' Mailbag:
1. You know the NBA is in at least a little trouble financially when it allows a Russian billionaire [MikHail Prokhorov] to buy a team. Five or six years ago, how fast do you think David Stern squashes the idea when someone says to him, "So, I guess the best way to describe him is that he's like a Russian Mark Cuban"? Two seconds? One second?

Which raises the question: Did Stern just open the door to all foreign billionaires, or was this a one-time thing? I'd argue that the NBA was soooooooooo desperate to fix this Nets situation and salvage the Brooklyn complex that it didn't care where the money came from. This was a one-time exception. We need a cash buyer. Period. I think a Saudi oil sheik would have been approved as an owner. I think Tom Cruise would have been approved. I think everyone short of a Pablo Escobar-type buyer would have been approved. It's the NBA and it's faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan-tastic … ( … -ally in need of some cash).


Luring LeBron

Still, Simmons thinks the Nets, assuming a move to Brooklyn, might now nab the hottest free agent of 2010:
This completely changes the landscape of the LeBron [James] Sweepstakes. Before, the Clippers and Zombie Sonics were the best basketball situations for him (no way for both); the Lakers were out; the Bulls seemed far-fetched; and the Knicks are such a mess that adding LeBron would have been like reliving Gretzky and the Kings all over again. But Russian Mark Cuban's deep pockets coupled with Brooklyn and a decent young Nets roster? Intriguing!

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