Andrew Keh flew out west ahead of the Nets and stopped in Santa Fe, NM, where he sat down for lunch with the mother-and-son team that owns Nets.com and has been taunting and annoying the Brooklyn franchise for years.
As Keh writes, the URL has over that time been misdirected to sites showing Mark Cuban sticking his tongue out, or to the Knicks site, or the Celtics site right after the big trade. Most recently (following Mikhail Prokhorov's "split ya" comment), it's being directed to Jason Kidd's official site. If you type it in today, it goes to an EBay page where you can bid on the URL. The current bid is $90,000, but know this: there is a reserve and if the high big doesn't match it, the auction is void.
The sometimes devilish effort was ascribed to a lot of people, mostly Cuban, but instead Nets.com has been owned for 20 years by Cyber Mesa Telecom, a small telephone and Internet provider that employs about two dozen people in the touristy New Mexican city. Its owner is a former fine arts photographer, Jane Hill, 69, whose son John is an avid sports fan and an admitted troll.
"We’ve had fun with the mystery of it all," she told Keh.
The two are on firm legal grounds. They're not cyber-squatting. They've owned name since 1994, at the dawn of the Internet, 10 years before Bruce Ratner bought the team. What do they want? That's easy. The asking price is $5 million which they think is a good price. After all, as Keh notes, they've succeeded in the past. "Hill sold the domain name Roadrunner.com to Time Warner for a seven-figure sum, a sale that was never publicly disclosed."
The Nets say they first approached the New Mexico company about buying Nets.com, but the price tag was too high and so walked away. The Hills did not, launching their campaign. So if a fan types in Nets.com, they don't get ticket pricing or the Nets schedule or Lenn Robbins. They get Jason Kidd.
And its not changing.
"Brooklyn Nets is our brand, and we have no interest in, despite the shameful efforts of the registrant to attempt to sell us this domain name for seven figures." said team spokesman Barry Baum.
Doesn't matter to the Hills.
"The one compliment I take to heart is when people say, ‘This is the ultimate troll,’ " John Hill said. "There’s some joy in that."
- Taunting Nets? Family Makes That Its Domain - Andrew Keh - New York Times
- Who wants to own Nets.com? Not the Nets! - James Dator - SB Nation
- Nets.com owners want $5 million from the Brooklyn Nets for the domain name - Charles Curtis - Star-Ledger
- Family taunting Brooklyn with Nets.com wants $5M from team - Bernie Augustine - New York Daily News
- New York Times finds Nets.com owner - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- The Troll Who Owns Nets.com Is A 69-Year-Old Woman In Santa Fe - Tom Ley - Deadspin
- 69-Year-Old Woman Trolls Nets Using Nets.com - Jessica Roy - New York Magazine
- Mystery trolls behind Nets.com are 69-year-old mother and her sports junkie son - Brett Smiley - FOX Sports
NETS.COM: Not Much Brooklyn Can Do - Eric Macramalla - Forbes.com