Midtown Manhattan is not normally the place you'd expect to see the logo of a New Jersey basketball team, let alone one plastered over the side of an entire building.
Nevertheless, a 12-story-high mural featuring the likenesses of American rap superstar Jay-Z and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov blossomed overnight recently on a giant wall facing the eminent New York City sporting venue Madison Square Garden.
Linked by the logo of the New Jersey Nets, Jay-Z and Prokhorov -- the new majority owner of the team (Jay-Z has a minor stake) -- are looking straight into Madison Square Garden, the home of the Nets' rivals, the New York Knicks.
The bold advertising campaign is reportedly aimed at acquiring LeBron James, basketball’s hottest commodity, who became a free agent on July 1.
The turf wars over James have risen to ridiculous heights, with U.S. President Barack Obama expressing his wish that James join the Bulls of his native Chicago, while golfer Tiger Woods says he’d like to see James play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Not to be outdone, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that James would be perfectly at home playing for the Knicks in the Big Apple.
Prokhorov is the first Russian to own an NBA team, and the Nets are in desperate need of improvement. Prokhorov, who is treated like royalty by the usually skeptical U.S. media, says he's aiming for an NBA title for the Nets by 2014, and that money’s not an issue.
The audacious billboard may be part of his strategy toward fulfilling that goal.
It’s been rumored that members of the Knicks have already complained about this brazen intrusion on their home turf and that the staff at Madison Square Garden is not comfortable confronting Prokhorov’s sly, larger-than-life smile.
-- Nikola Krastev