To protest U.S. sanctions, Brooklyn Nets owner wants to move team control to Russia

BY Jaywon Choe  March 25, 2014 at 2:25 PM EDT
Russian billionaire and owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, on Dec. 24, 2011. Photo by Sergey Rodovnichenko/ Flickr

Russian billionaire and owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, on Dec. 24, 2011. Photo by Sergey Rodovnichenko/ Flickr

Russian billionaire and owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, said he plans to relocate the company that owns the basketball team to Russia, as a way to push back against sanctions being placed on his country.

In Moscow Monday, Prokhorov said he is heeding the call of Russian President Vladimir Putin to repatriate businesses and assets to Russia, as a way to protect them against international sanctions.

In recent weeks, the U.S. and its western allies have imposed strict travel bans and frozen the assets of several Russian businessmen with close ties to Putin, in response to the annexation of Crimea.

While Prokhorov is not one of those yet hit by sanctions, he still pledged to do what he could to support Putin. Speaking to reporters before he received a medal for service from Putin, Prokhorov said, “This [move] does not violate any NBA rules, and I will bring it [under Russian jurisdiction] in accordance with Russian law.”

Though correct, there are still several of steps that first need to be taken before such a transfer could actually take place. According to NBA rules, any ownership change must be approved by the league and by at least 23 of the 30 team owners.

For perspective on how long a process this can be, it took eight months for the league to approve the initial sale of the Nets to Prokhorov in 2010.

Moreover, a spokesman for the NBA said it has yet to receive any formal request from Prokhorov about changing the team’s ownership structure.

“The Nets are owned by Mikhail Prokhorov through a U.S.-based company,” a statement read. “We have received no official application nor is there a process underway through our office to transfer the ownership of the Nets to another company.”