New Jersey Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov Meets with Jay Z

Knicks and Nets, it’s a rivalry now. Almost.

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It started with a radio spot, which aired a couple of times over the weekend during Knicks games (via Nets Daily):

“Hey Nets. You can walk like us, you can talk like us, but you ain’t never gonna be like us.  Knicks, Nets, Tuesday, 7:30, MSG.”

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov responded to that Tuesday in the New York Post.

“I don’t think we want to be like the Knicks. I think we’d more like to resemble the Lakers,” the owner said as a shot towards the Knicks recent run of futility.

We have some bad blood. Maybe we even have a real rivalry staring here.

Truth be told, it started this summer, when both teams were going after LeBron James. Prokhorov worked to raise the presence of the 12-win Nets by a number of steps, one being a billboard across from Madison Square Garden with a picture of himself and part-owner Jay-Z proclaiming they were the “blueprint for greatness.”

Later the Knicks put up a billboard pushing season tickets right across the street from where the Nets have broken ground on a new home in Brooklyn.

To be a real rivalry something needs to be on the line when they meet, which is not the case Tuesday night. The Lakers and Celtics are rivals. Heck the Heat and Cavaliers are more rivals with more bitter blood right now.

The Knicks are 9-9, the Nets 6-11, but both likely will be in the scrap for some of the final playoff spots in the East. Then the games will really matter.

Now it’s about boasting and pride. Which in New York is a lot. So maybe this is a real rivalry.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.

As expected, Jimmy Butler says no issue between him, Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler
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Is the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler relationship nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows? No. There will be sparks between two intense competitors.

Have those sparks started a fire Bulls fans should be concerned about? A report on Wednesday said the core problem was Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic, which provided some kindling for that spark to catch.

However, as you would expect, Butler said this was all much ado about nothing, that he and Rose are all good. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Spin this however you wish: Their relationship is fine and someone in the media is making this up; or their relationship has been rough, and this is all just leaking out now.

This is a Bulls team in a bit of a transition as Rose declines some and Butler has grown into a top-flight player. Clearly that dynamic has some people around the team — likely the people in one of one of the players’ camps doesn’t like the power struggle or where it leaves his buddy — talking out of school to the press.

But as Butler noted, winning cures all ills. If Chicago can get off to a fast start, nobody will be asking chemistry questions.

For now, however, tounges are wagging.