Joe Tsai Buys 49% Stake in the Brooklyn Nets, Stirring Up Downtown Sports Arena Rumors and Possible NBA Relocation

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

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Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

Flashback to August 29th, 2017.  We, here at East Village Times, reported that on August 30th, Alibaba co-founder and Vice Chairman Joe Tsai was set to announce that he was bringing his professional lacrosse team to San Diego, and rumor had it that he was buying up property downtown and was going to privately fund a new sports arena.

The town was buzzing.

The Mighty 1090 was reporting that Tsai was a La Jolla resident who wanted to invest into his home town that had been so good to him and his family. Dan “The Scoop” Sileo broke the news to his listeners and promoted that the president of the newly founded team, Steve Govett, was going to be a guest on his show.

What transpired next was about as disappointing as a Younhoe Koo game-tying field goal.  The interview started off well enough. They talked about the excitement of bringing the National Lacrosse League to San Diego and the potential of lacrosse in this market as a successful sporting event.  Then Sileo said, “Tell me a little bit more about Joe.” Govett then dropped the hammer.  “I want to pump the brakes for everybody… Joe is not a resident of San Diego, not a resident of La Jolla.  His business is in Asia. He lives in Hong Kong.  I just want to make sure everybody understands… that he’s in Asia and is an employee of a large company in Asia and resides in Hong Kong.”  Govett didn’t stop at dispelling the residential rumors. He went on to say, “I know there has been a lot talk about an arena yesterday and today.  I just want to let you know that we have no intention on building an arena and we have not bought any land and we have no intention on buying an NBA team.”  Well, that sucked didn’t it Dan?  Talk about getting the rug pulled out from under you!

Alibaba spokeswoman Jennifer Kuperman even got into the denial game as recently as October 5th to dispel rumors that Tsai was in talks to purchase a stake with the Brooklyn Nets as reported by Reuters.

Lies.  All lies!  Mr. Tsai, is this any way to start a relationship with your future fans in San Diego?  I think I speak for everyone that San Diego has had enough of billionaires lying and misleading the public.  Just ask Dean Spanos, whose last name is now synonymous with a four letter word for excrement that starts with the letter S, how that tactic worked out for his team?

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Earlier today, it was announced that Tsai had bought a 49% share in the Brooklyn Nets with an option to purchase a controlling interest in the club in 2021.  But Steve said…. Jennifer said….

What they said doesn’t mean anything!  The more important question is, is he bringing the Nets to San Diego in a brand new sports arena?  I don’t think so.

Even if he were to exercise his rights for controlling interest in the team, Mikhail Prokhorov still owns the Barclays Center where the Nets play and are expected to sign a new long-term lease.  Sure, leases can be broken, but the fact of the matter is, we live in San Diego.  A city with a long history of corruption, inept city officials, and renown for not being able to get anything done.

We have also forgotten, we’ve had the NBA in San Diego.  Twice!  It is widely considered that San Diego does not provide a favorable market for a NBA franchise, as the Clippers and Rockets have found out the hard way.  What has made anyone believe that the market has improved?  If anything, I think all we proved is that this could possibly be a good hockey town.  The Gulls love it here and the city has supported.

As much as I would love to see the Nets, or any NBA team for that matter, come back to San Diego, the truth is that it is a long shot.  Our wounds are still fresh and the NFL’s abandonment on this town still stings.  We would be foolish to get our hopes up to expect anything else other than what we already have.  The only thing I know for sure is that regardless of the sport, the owners cannot be trusted.  Enjoy your crappy basketball team, Mr. Tsai.  We don’t need them.  Cellar dwellers are no longer welcome in this city.

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