In an interview with Bloomberg News before the Nets-Lakers game at Barclays Center Friday night, Bruce Ratner reminisced about building Barclays Center ... and how little control owners have over teams and particularly super star players. He also notes in passing that Jason Kidd and Vince Carter were "not getting along so well" before the Nets dealt Kidd to Dallas in 2007.
Ratner said he learned during his time as principal owner --from 2004 through 2010-- that it's a player's league and particularly a superstar's league.
"Jason Kidd was our LeBron James, a superstar. I was very friendly with him. He was a wonderful wonderful player, as well as wonderful as a person," Ratner said.
"Nevertheless, he was a quiet person. he led by example. He kind of was the team, ran the team. When Jason decided he didn't want to stay with us anymore, it was over. over."
Ratner detailed the end of the Nets-Kidd relationship.
"Our first three years, we made the playoffs. second round a couple of times, I guess. We had a nice team. We had Vince. All of a sudden, it started falling apart. Vince and Jason weren't getting along so well. Jason decided 'I'd like to move on.'"
"It was over and there was nothing I could do. And once that happened, how do you replace him. You are right. You don't really have control. You really don't. And also, the team forms its own cult and when the team forms its own cult, there's not much we can do."
About the six year battle to get the arena built --and the larger Atlantic Yards-- approved, Ratner said he was surprised at the opposition which led to various lawsuits and 35 judicial decisions prior to the start of construction.
"We thought we would be hugged and welcomed," Ratner told Bloomberg reporters. "I didn't anticipate 35 lawsuits, hanging by the edge of time, If we didn't start by a certain date, certain grandfathered laws wouldn't have allowed us to built it."
Ratner admitted it wasn't the Nets themselves that drove his desire to build the arena and the rest of the high-rise towers now going up around Barclays Center. It was "civic pride."
"It was really about civic pride. And along with civic pride, there was the real estate component which actually made it economically worthwhile. .. it was civic pride as well as real estate together as one," said Ratner, who still owns, at least for now, 20 percent of the team. Ratner is expected to sell his remaining shares in the team and the 55 percent he owns in Barclays to Mikhail Prokhorov by year's end. Prokhorov has already bought out Ratner's ownership stake in Nassau Events Center, which rehabbing Nassau Coliseum.
Bruce Ratner Interview (Audio) - Bloomberg News