The History of Nets Ownership

Mikhail Prokhorov has done a lot of impressive things in his life. He made over $9 billion dollars selling nickel, palladium, and gold (also apparently a big fan of the Periodic Table). He ran against Vladmir Putin in the 2012 Russian Presidential Election (spoiler: he didn’t win). However, the most impressive thing Prokhorov ever did was help move the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn.

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In 2010, Prokhorov agreed to buy 80% of the Nets and 45% of the new Barclays arena in Brooklyn from real estate developer Bruce Ratner. While people seem to recall JAY Z being the majority owner of the Nets at the time, he really only owned less than 1% of the team. However, JAY Z sold his stake in the team when he launched Roc Nation Sports agency in 2013.

In late 2017, Prokhorov sold 49% of the Nets to Joseph Tsai, co-founder of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, for $1 billion dollars. In August 2019, Tsai purchased the remaining 51% from Prokhorov for $1.35 billion dollars. Tsai will have paid $2.35 billion dollars to buy the Brooklyn Nets in full. Tsai paying $2.35 billion dollars to buy the team is the richest deal in the history of U.S. sports.

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Tsai is also in talks to purchase the Barclay’s Center and the new Nassau Coliseum from Prokhorov. The NBA prefers owners to own the stadium their team plays in, so it would make sense for Tsai to buy Barclay’s Center now that he is the majority owner of the Nets.

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This is not the only sports franchise that Tsai owns (although it is certainly the most expensive). Tsai is owner of the San Diego Seals, an indoor lacrosse franchise in the National Lacrosse League (it’s a real thing, I swear). In early 2019, Tsai led an investment group that purchased the New York Liberty in the WNBA from owner James Dolan. Tsai is one of the few owners in professional basketball that owns both an NBA team and a WNBA team.

Image Source: AP Images/Mary Altaffer

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