When David Stern forced Mikhail Prokhorov and James Dolan to play nice

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

With all the off-season tongue-wagging between the Nets and Knicks this summer, it's good to recall who started it all: Mikhail Prokhorov. It was the Nets' owner who proclaimed at his first press conference that he would "turn Knick fans into Nets fans:" then tweaked his Knicks counterpart James Dolan by erecting a 21-story billboard of himself and Jay Z entitled, "Blueprint for Greatness;" then in an interview with New York Magazine reportedly called Dolan "that little man."

Each move infuriated the sensitive Dolan. The "Blueprint for Greatness" was strategically placed outside his window, causing him to call both David Stern and Adam Silver separately to demand that they have Prokhorov take it down because it was affecting his employees' morale. The "little man" quote apparently drove him around the bend because once again, about a year ago, he complained to Stern.

So in order to make peace in the jungle, Stern put the two billionaires together in a room for lunch, Fred Kerber reports, and ordered them to work things out.  The meeting took place in an undisclosed location. No one, writes Kerber, is denying it.

"There was such a meeting and the parties both said it was a very cordial and pleasant one," said one league official with knowledge of the sit-down. A second source with direct knowledge of the sit-down told Kerber it was "cordial and friendly." (Well, they are fellow billionaires.)

Today, the two sides are working well.  Silver said recently, "On a business level, the teams get along very well…the nature of the sport is that the teams are highly competitive and you want them to be but they both recognize that they’re partners in the league and this is something that is positive for both teams."

Has Prokhorov stopped? He is known to think his comments are good for the rivalry and thus both teams and the league.  At the July 18 press conference to introduce Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, Prokhorov was asked about Dolan. Impishly (or as impishly as possible for a 6'9" billionaire), Prokhorov responded, "he’s watching us for the time being."

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