The identity of the person who owns Nets.com has long been sought after, as many people have wanted to know who exactly is using the domain name to troll Mikhail Prokhorov and the Brooklyn Nets. (Go to Nets.com right now and you'll be redirected to an eBay listing for the domain name that features a picture of a smoking Mark Cuban. Before that, it redirected to Jason Kidd's personal site, and before that it took people to the Knicks' all-star ballot.) Thanks to Andrew Keh of The New York Times, we now know who is behind the site, and why she keeps using it to mess with the Nets.
Keh tracked down Jane Hill, a former photographer and web entrepreneur of sorts who has owned the Nets.com domain name since 1996. That's the year that she, fresh off selling the domain name Roadrunner.com to Time Warner for a seven-figure sum, paid $20,000 to a shuttering internet service provider that had 500 subscribers and just happened to own the Nets.com domain name. Since the Nets moved to Brooklyn, she's been trying to convince them to pay her $5 million for the name. The team has repeatedly refused her offer, so she's taken to trolling to try and drum up some attention and put pressure on them:
When she heard the Nets were making a splashy move to Brooklyn, she thought it would be a good time to ask her lawyer to make them an offer. When the team declined, Hill was hardly deterred.
"We were determined not to be malicious in any way, but we did want to get a little bit of attention," she said.
She got plenty of attention with the first prank website, which featured the photo of Cuban and the banner: "Looking for the New Jersey Nets? Looking for the Brooklyn Nets? They're not here ... but they SHOULD be!"
Hill's 37-year-old son is the one in charge of thinking of new places to redirect Nets.com visitors to, and he takes great pride in his ability to needle the Nets:
He said he took pride in coming up with references that were a step below the obvious, like the switch to Kidd's website or a redirection to the Boston Celtics home page, which he did after the Nets completed a high-profile trade to get Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
"The one compliment I take to heart is when people say, 'This is the ultimate troll,' " he said. "There's some joy in that."
If only we could all experience the joy that comes with pulling off "the ultimate troll."