Not long after Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets in 2010, he arranged for the team to take a round-the-world trip, stopping in Moscow for one day to practice and participate in a children's hoops event, then flying on to Beijing and Shanghai for games vs. the Rockets before heading home across the Pacific to New Jersey. No NBA team had ever done that, especially in pre-season. Pretty cool.
There was a plan as well to hold part of training camp in Moscow in 2011, but the lockout interfered with that. Prokhorov has intimated that he would like to play an NBA game in his hometown of Moscow, even a regular season contest. But nothing has come of that, mainly because Russia simply does not have an NBA-ready basketball arena. CSKA, the most famous and most accomplished Russia team, plays in a bandbox that isn't as large as some American high school gyms.
Now, with the Nets headed back to China in October, will they stop over again in Moscow? Is it worth it? Short term, probably not, say insiders, but long-term, it's possible.
Sergey Kushchenko is in the ideal position to make it happen. As a member of the Nets board of directors and now president of the VTB League, Russia's biggest, Kushchenko suggests he could use his dual role to set up games.
NBA exhibitions against VTB teams are "possible," especially if "those Brooklyn Nets" are involved, he told Russia’s Itar-TASS news agency. He certainly has the needed connections, being Prokhorov's long term sports adviser and Mr. Fix-It. But don't hold your breath. The arena issue is real. The NBA frowns on putting its teams in small arenas at least for real games.
And of course, there might be other, larger and more geopolitical issues right now that would have to be considered.
- Nets director talks up Russian exhibitions - AP
- Nets: Exhibition games in Russia 'possible' - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York