New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and New York Knicks owner James Dolan are preparing for a little mano-a-mano rumble in Los Angeles during this NBA All-Star Weekend. The two won't meet in a squared circle, an octagon or any sort of steel cage. They will, however, each meet with Denver Nuggets' All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony in hopes of convincing Carmelo that their team is the right place for him.
Prokhorov might enter the arena with a slight lead, considering the reports that the Nets and Nuggets have a deal in place that only requires Anthony to agree to sign a contract extension. Dolan and the Knicks are still trying to decide how much they are willing to give up. While they do that, Dolan needs to convince Anthony to pass on the Nets offer, perhaps even convince him to wait until this summer when he could join the Knicks as a free agent.
Both guys are rich. Both guys are no strangers to controversy. Both guys will have the future of their franchises in their hands this weekend. With all of that as backdrop, let's break down the strengths and weaknesses of the combatants.
Mikhail Prokhorov (Nets)
Title: Owner, New Jersey Nets; Chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia's largest gold producer; President of ONEXIM Group
Forbes Says: Prokhorov has a $13.4 billion net worth, making him the world 39th richest man
With a deal for Anthony already in place, Prokhorov gets a chance to look Anthony in the eye this weekend - literally, since he is 6-foot-8 -- and tell Carmelo why New Jersey is the place he needs to be.
Prokhorov purchased controlling interest in the Nets in 2009, spending around $200 million. Prokhorov quickly proved to be a colorful personality, and SB Nation New York recently detailed the top 5 things he has said since taking control of the Nets.
If Prokhorov can turn on the charm and convince Anthony to sign on the New Jersey dotted line, the following statement from him might prove prophetic:
"The way is very simple, the way to success. We're going to turn Knicks fan into Nets fan. That's it."
Going into the weekend, Prokhorov has the advantage of knowing the Nets already have a deal in place for Anthony. He can also sell Carmelo on the fact that he can be the face of the franchise, the cornerstone around which the Nets rebuild. He can also sell him on the team's upcoming move to Brooklyn. Prokhorov faces the disadvantage that the team is still currently in New Jersey, and that they stink.
Let's see if Mikhail can deliver the goods for the Nets, the way he promised to in his introductory video after purchasing the team.
James Dolan (Knicks)
Title: Chief Executive Officer, President and Director Cablevision Systems; Executive Chairman, Madison Square Garden, Inc.
Forbes Says: Dolan made $15.33 in CEO compensation in 2010, 55th among all CEOs in the US.
Dolan has often been scorned as owner of the Knicks. He has been voted one of the worst owners in the league. He has watched the team bumble and stumble for the past several seasons. Knicks fans have lived through Stephon Marbury, Isiah Thomas, lots of bad basketball and a fair share of buffoonery from Dolan.
With Anthony, Dolan has an opportunity to change that perception, and the landscape for the Knicks. Entering the weekend, he does have advantages. His team plays at Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena and a place Anthony has made no secret of pining for. His team already has a superstar in Amare Stoudemire and is in position to acquire a third down the road (Chris Paul or Deron Williams, possibly). He faces disadvantages, too. The Nets have a deal in place and the Knicks simply can't match what the Nets are willing to give up in talent. He can't tell Carmelo he will be the face of the franchise -- Stoudemire has become that. He doesn't have the persona, the charm, the aura of Prokhorov. So, Dolan has his work cut out for him this weekend.
For the sake of the Knicks, let's hope when Dolan talks to Anthony he doesn't stumble and stammer the way he did in the clip below.