Yikes, Mikhail Prokhorov

There are some things that are just not OK to joke about. I’d list some of them, but that would violate the rule.

However, I can tell you for sure that what Mikhail Prokhorov said to June Ambrose — an African-American stylist and author — is definitely off-limits. See for yourself.

Met w/ a Russian Billionaire who owns an NBA team, I asked do u like scarfs, response: scarfs are for making a noose and hanging people [sic]

Umm … that is not good. At all.

No idea what the background for that conversation is — other than Prokhorov’s thoughts on neckwear — but there’s no way bringing up hanging people is good. Maybe there’s some sort of language barrier and he was trying to make a joke or something, but what came out is pretty terrible. Even if it’s out of context, that’s one of those things you leave out of conversation if at all possible. Odds are, it’s going to make you look ignorant, insensitive and possibly racist. Triple yikes, really.

In related news, David Stern’s Thanksgiving weekend just got a lot more stressful.

(via Megan Wilson)

Comments (31)

  1. Yikes, June Ambrose. What kind of question is “Do you like scarves?”

  2. What’s racist about this?
    its a joke
    i thought it was funny

  3. He looks disturbingly lightly sweaty like the way Tas did late into that all-day live vidcast session you guys did this summer. It was a little scary!

  4. Hey Trey,

    try and investigate this one. I’ve seen Prokhorov speak and I cannot imagine “noose” being in his vocabulary. Seriously, this seems fishy.

  5. Wow. Charges of racism for a guy who owns a team in the NBA, which is predominately black. WTF are you serious? This is stupidity. This showcases Americans OVER-SENSITIVITY

  6. I smell a blossoming friendship with Donald Sterling on the horizon.

    You know, Donald Sterling, a guy whose name Big Chrissy might want to google.

  7. This is ridiculous. Prokhorov comes from modern day Russia, not from the (19th century) American south. To him, nooses or hanging people has zero association with race.

    I don’t care how poor your judgement is, how little you care about the quality of this blog, or how bored you were today, this is NOT AN ISSUE.

  8. hey, give a guy a break, he doesn’t speak english well. LOST IN TRANSLATION is perhaps an “excuse” that is very well applicable here. That is, by that token, if you are so CULTURALLY SENSITIVE, it shouldn’t take much to reduce that TRIPPLE yiekes to SINGLE yiekes (and Yiekes it is, I agree).

  9. A European view: The implication of this article seems to be that context is everything, but surely that has to reach both ways. Can anyone deny that “an African-American stylist and author” might honestly carry unhappy associations with ideas of nooses and hanging? No. But must “a Russian” (i.e. a non-American) necessarily be considered responsible for deliberately provoking those associations in an actively hurtful way? I don’t see how. It’s possible, of course, that he meant to do that – racism is certainly not absent in Russian society – but he could just as easily have been unaware (or certainly not highly aware) of the historical reasons behind the possibility that his interviewer might be specifically hurt or offended by his words. His joke was clearly ‘black humour’ in the conventional, race-neutral sense. I don’t think it is clear at all (at least from this article) that it was anti-black humour in the racial sense.

  10. i dont care what dwight howard says in the heat of passion; hes a good kid.

    i dont care that you find nooses racist; they arent.

    i do care about your opinions on basketball news, event, players, and culture.

    less preaching more basketball pls.

  11. I’m Europeanand I had no idea these statements could be seen as racist.

    I think you’d be hard pressed to find Europeans that associate hangings and nooses with racial issues.

  12. I agree with Rip

  13. Let me say this in as culturally and racially sensitive a manner I can, Trey: Get your head out of your arse.

  14. How FUCKING STUPID of a celebrity stylist is June Ambrose???? This is how she engages with clients. Whatever was said, she should not share it with the public….ALL you JUNE AMBROSE clients BEWARE of a very, very SAD indiviual advising you on style

  15. Well, I guess Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Ciara, Mariah Carey, Ne-Yo, and Jay-Z should not be cracking jokes in the presence of stylish June…they may get accused of white racism (lol)…Why the hell would you be cracking jokes at a fitting anyway????

  16. As a Russian-American who has lived over there for several years, I will tell you that the vast majority of Russians have no idea of the link between nooses and racism in America.

    Some of them, however, don’t like scarves. Relax, please.

  17. This is stupid. Stop being so sensitive.

  18. The owner should learn more about african american culture in light of the fact that he now owns an NBA team and many of his players are african american.
    It would not be a good idea for him to address his players and make any sort of reference to a noose and the hanging of people, this is highly insensitive and strikes an emotional chord with african americans who’s ancestors were chased,beaten and hung until there bodies were lifeless.
    None of us were in the room and we don’t know all the facts that lead up to these words being spoken or what took place after they were spoken.
    At the very least it was a poor choice of words and I sure he regrets saying them.
    Worst case he may in fact be a racist, who has billions of dollars and also happens to own an NBA team. Bottom line he needs to be more in tune with the history of certain groups of people. Had this been a comment towards Jews and the Holocaust I doubt there would be any question that there needs to be some form of intervention by the NBA.
    I happen to be Jewish so I understand the issue here.

  19. I’m not saying he’s racist or that what he said is racist. I’m saying that this was not the best thing to say. As Jared notes, “At the very least it was a poor choice of words,” which is exactly right. That’s all.

  20. Leave for a moment your 19th century and recall the Russian 20th. In early 90′s in Russia entrepreneurs often wore crimson jackets with a white scarf! And some white BUSNESSMAN were hanged on their own white scarves by white Russian gangsters.
    It is a joke in Russia – black one! ))))

  21. The tweets aren’t there any more: http://twitter.com/juneAmbrose

    Have seen them yesterday (unfortunately i haven’t made a screenshot) and there quite a bunch of follow-ups of here being upset etc .

    Trey, since this made news on this blog, I feel you really owe us some background information.

  22. JUNE AMBROSE is just a very sad person….She was striking for fame…the ingredients were right there…She ran with an agenda and she failed…She is done and finished…She wanted to kill and she killed herself. Her true character is exposed, and in a world in search of meaning and truth people like June Ambrose will have no voice…they are too corrupted by their self-obsession and everyone understands…JUNE, don’t you get it!!!

  23. “possibly racist”… americans have gone crazy with this sensitive shit. it’s a god damn joke. funny or not, who cares? stop squeezing news and controversy out of everything.

  24. I like how people yesterday were all “Oh man, this could be big if true! It’s going to be biiiig!!!” . . . and beyond a few blog posts, it’s carried no weight thus far. Know why? Because it’s not a big deal!!!

    You have to really be reaching hard to even attempt to insinuate that a Russian billionaire, within the context of a question about FASHION, decided to turn it into an opportunity to reference lynchings in the Jim Crow south. BS.

    As I’ve said about this already, this is a dude who has a Kalashnikov on his window sill. I would expect a dude like that to make a dark joke now and again that may not translate in his second (or third or fourth, whatever) language.

    Let’s find some new more worthy crusades to pursue, shall we?

  25. I think June has a lot of guts for speaking out about how this offended her, most of the time people just let this stuff go, but in speaking about these sorts of issues it brings more awareness to sensitive issues that affect different groups.

    I’m sure the team owner will work a bit harder to understand the cultures of the different people he is coming in contact with now that he is spending more time here in America.
    He is not justin Russia anymore, he owns an NBA team here in the good ole USA.

    To ViV’s point I’m not convinced this was an attempt to do anything other than vent, i’m mean she only put it on twitter, it’s not like she held a press conference or contacted the NBA.

    I took some time to read some of her tweets and I can’t find another time where she speaks about anything other than fashion and lifestyle topics. Since this morning the tweets regarding this matter have been deleted which leads me to believe that she was indeed venting and has likely moved on and we wont hear much more from her on this matter.

    At the end of the day poor choice of words can always be taken out of context and offend someone, it’s only through speaking about it and hearing all the different opinions, even on a blog such as this can we all have a better understanding of one another. Everyone who has made a comment on this blog has a soft spot, and by that I mean something that may offend you, may not offend me. But even though I may not feel your pain I have to respect it and understand that you were hurt, I mean we all hurt and feel pain, this is what makes us human.

    I think Trey was smart to post this story, so many different opinions. It’s not wonder they can’t get anything done in Washington….

    Time will tell if this owner is good for the NBA

  26. LOL @ what VIV said, Wow you went hardcore on June VIV, sounds like you know her personally or maybe you were there when it happened. Give us the details.

  27. I sat next to this man at a dinner hosted by my friend Dasha Zhukova – - – and she spent the entire evening apologizing to guests for his crass behavior… I’m so glad someone put him on blast…
    If you have never met this man then you have no idea what your talking about.
    If you have never met this woman then you have no idea who she is and what she stands for.
    I have only met him and I can assure you this sounds like something this asshole would say, he is a pig and I’m being kind.

  28. Wow, Russia seems to be a wonderful place…

    Trey, I’m pretty sure Prokhorov’s comment had nothing to do with the skin color of June Ambrose. I didn’t even get your point first. (but I’m also from europe, like 78,4% of your readers obviously!?)

  29. Omg! I stopped reading at the beginning of that post before me and missed that last sentence. Hope that shit gets deleted soon.

  30. Hanging has been around for a long time and isn’t exactly African American specific.

    Looking at the comment and the intent, this doesn’t seem like much of a faux pas. Still, I would imagine that Mikhail would have chosen different words if the strange fruit correlation had occurred to him.

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