Atlantic Yards Under Construction, Brooklynites Attack Nets Owner

Even with the Atlantic Yards development under construction, Brooklyn residents are still angry, and the subject is basketball.

At a protest Thursday afternoon in front of Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn residents turned their focus from the hard-fought development–which drew seven years of protest before construction began–to the NBA’s treatment of owners and the Nets’ new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

As NBA fans lined up in anticipation of the NBA Draft Thursday night, Rev. Clinton Miller spoke to a small crowd about what he called the NBA’s “double standard” for owners and players and how a company that Mr. Prokhorov partially owns has alleged ties to Zimbabwe, a country the U.S. holds sanctions against.

Some of those gathered held signs with slogans like “NBA DAVID, GET STERN WITH THE OWNERS” and “DID THE NBA REALLY VET THE NET(s)?”

“We have seen and heard reports of many owners of the NBA who have engaged in sexual harassment, racial discrimination and other transgressions, but we’ve never heard of the NBA making a statement against the transgressions of its owners, but we always hear the NBA making statements against the transgressions of its players,” Mr. Miller said. Attending the protest was Daniel Goldstein, the longtime holdout who lived in the Nets arena footprint until he finally sold his apartment to arena developer Bruce Ratner earlier this year.

“I think that the NBA is playing with fire in that they looked the other way and didn’t fully investigate Prokhorov because they are desperate for the money he is bringing to the Nets, and I think it’s going to burn them in the end,” Mr. Goldstein told The Observer at the protest.

Brooklyn residents have already sent a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern asking him to start an investigation of Mr. Prokhorov and Renaissance Capital. At the protest Mr. Miller asked for explanation from Mr. Prokhorov.

Mr. Prokhorov became owner of the Nets in May.

As for Atlantic Yards, Mr. Miller said that is a separate issue and the project is going forward.