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A Rivalry Is Revived by Prokhorov

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It's on.

In an extensive look at New York basketball, Reed Pillifant of the Observer writes about how a new arena and a "rakish Russian" owner have jump-started a long dormant (and long lop-sided) rivalry between the Knicks and Nets, one that's already featured giant billboards and a tight race for superstars.

"The Nets are trying to hang in the ball game, that's why we had to give up so much," says Walt "Clyde" Frazier in talking about the end of the 'Melo Drama.

Marc Cuban thinks Prokhorov has a mental edge and a chess master's mindset. "He is witty as shit. He loves a good battle of the words, even if it isn't his native language."

The real battle, of course, won't begin till 2012. James Dolan is in the midst of an $800 million renovation at the Garden; Prokhorov is financing a billion dollar construction job in Brooklyn, part of which can only be described as Prokhorovian: "an in-house retreat for himself 10 times the size of a standard luxury box 'for he and his Russian friends'."

Expect more of the same.