Sunday, November 08, 2015

The unreliable Bruce Ratner (again), on "35 lawsuits" and Jason Kidd "wonderful as a person"

Ah, listen, if you can, to Bruce Ratner interviewed Friday on Bloomberg Radio's Taking Stock (h/t NetsDaily).

First he talks about how the preliminaries to building the Barclays Center--"litigation, planning, government process"--than to build the arena itself. "I had the pleasure of getting sued, 35 separate lawsuits," he said, in the first iteration of the lie. (He once used the more vague term "litigations" and sometimes his associates say "legal decisions.")

Asked what drew him most into this project, he responded, " Remember, Brooklyn's been down for a long time. It had a tremendously strong period until mid to late 50s... then a result of a whole number of factors... It was really down and out when we first got here." 

Presumably he meant the late 1980s MetroTech project and the Downtown Brooklyn location. Because "Brooklyn" is pretty big, and the city's first historic district was Brooklyn Heights, designated in 1965, not exactly "down and out."

"The identity of a city really has to do with sports," Ratner claimed, citing efforts to bring the Dodgers back and then to build a minor league stadium in Coney Island.

"It wasn't because I wanted to make money with the team, or it particularly had to be this team... or basketball," he continued. "It was really about civic pride. And then along with civic pride, there was a real estate component which actually made it economically worthwhile."

Note that he sold the team before it even moved to Brooklyn, and that he was speaking before a game in which the arena was dominated by fans of the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

"We added what I do as a daytime job, which is real estate," Ratner continued. "They work together. It was civic pride as well as real estate together as one." 

Of course.

The challenges

"You knew there would be lawsuits" of construction, he was told. "You didn't know what you were getting into as owner of a pro sports team."

Ratner claimed to disagree. "I built MetroTech. There were three lawsuits, not a big deal. I never anticipated 35 lawsuits, hanging by the very edge of time, because if we didn't start by a certain date," tax-exempt financing would have been unavailable, he said.

"I had no idea of the cost... of moving the [rail] yards." Really? He runs a real estate company.

"We thought we would be hugged and welcomed." No, he didn't.

"The team stuff, I wasn't surprised, I didn't know much, I depended on [GM] Rod Thorn," he said. "That being said, I did not have any idea how complex it is to run a sports team, how in the public eye you are, how hard it is to win."

Really? Hadn't he heard of George Steinbrenner.

The Nets

Told a quote by Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that "LeBron James doesn't have a boss," Ratner concurred that top players run the team.

"Jason Kidd was our LeBron James, of course, a superstar," Ratner said. "I'm very friendly with him. He was a wonderful wonderful player... and well as wonderful as a person." Really? Wonderful to the point of domestic violence and drunk driving charges?

"Nevertheless, he was a quiet person. he led by example. He really kind of was the team and ran the team. When Jason decided he didn't want to stay with us anymore, it was over," Ratner said, hinting at a rift of some sort between Kidd and fellow guard Vince Carter.

"It was over. And there was nothing I could do. And once that happened, how do you replace that?" he added. "You're right. You don't really have control. You really don't. And also, the team forms its own cult and when it forms its own cult, there's not much we can do."

The Nets formed their own cult????

The comments

On NetsDaily, there were some lively comments critical of Ratner and his claimed civic pride, and his use of the team to leverage the real estate project. 

To which the ever-homer site editor Net Income (aka Bob Windrem) responded, "when all is said and done, Pacific Park will be viewed as a great project" and that Ratner "got them out of New Jersey. a major positive."

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