Yesterday, the Group of 8, the most V.I.P. club for industrialized democracies, voted to become even more exclusive, kicking out Vladimir Putin's Russia after his recent annexation of the Crimean province to become the Group of 7. Meanwhile in Russia, President Putin was busy awarding billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, principal owner of the Brooklyn Nets and occasional rapper, with an award for his help at the Sochi Olympics.
Prokhorov announced yesterday that he'll be moving ownership of the Barclays Center denizens to a Russian-based company, subjecting their finances to Russian jurisdiction. Currently, his company, Onexim Sports & Entertainment Holding, holds the most shares in the organization, but to whom exactly the power and pull would be given to was unclear.
"This process is going slowly," the Russian businessman, worth $10.27 billion last time Forbes checked, told the Russian state news agency Interfax. "I have already said numerous times that I am gradually transferring the basketball club to Russian companies, according to the law."
This was news to NBA spokesperson Michael Bass. “We have received no application, nor is there a process under way through our office to transfer the ownership of the Nets to another company," Bass said.
Regardless, this isn't the first time Prokhorov has mentioned bringing his Brooklyn holdings to Moscow. Last year, a law passed in Russia regulating foreign holdings for public officials, and the Nets owner showed interest in the move. But then tensions in the Ukraine boiled over. In the face of potentially devastating U.S.-imposed sanctions after his annexation of Crimea, Putin asked his oligarchs to register their businesses in the homeland to spite the other side of the Iron Curtain.
Prokhorov is not one of the Russian officials marked out for sanctions by the U.S. Senate passed and signed into law two weeks ago. But the obvious question on everyone's mind is, will the rising tensions between the Western world and Russia affect the growth of the fifth most valuable team in the NBA, now worth $780 million?
"This question is not clear so far," Prokhorov responded to reporters. "We are all now looking at it together. At the moment, so far, no."
Yesterday, the aforementioned Group of 7 signed a formal agreement, deemed the Hague Declaration, which calls for Iran-level sanctions against the Eastern country, should Putin decide to move his troops into the mainland of Ukraine. And one of the main sectors that would be targeted in this quasi-nuclear option? Finance and banking.
The immense impact of a sanction against a country of that economic power on the globalized economy and, more importantly, the Brooklyn Nets remains to be seen. Keep in mind Prokhorov is the same guy who said, "I don't want to put on the table all of my secrets" (Given recent events, that statement should now be said in a heavier Russian accent).