10. Mikhail Prokhorov.
Still the man with the jokes, the non-inherited billions, and the biggest luxury tax penalty in Monopoly history. We thought Prokhorov was all-in last year, committing over $300 million in salary to his starting 5, before Prokhorov gave Billy King the green light to commission a record-setting roster, $102 million deep before the luxury tax. Once you add the bank-breaking tax, plus the $4 million the Nets have to pay amnesty victim Travis Outlaw, plus Jason Kidd’s $3 million salary, plus Lawrence Frank’s $1 million salary, plus the salary of the rest of the assistant coaching staff, plus Billy King’s salary… Add all that up, and you get a payroll that looks way more like the New York Yankees than tghe NBA.
Some consider Prokhorov’s free-wheeling ways as another mark of a man of mystery, but there’s not much to unpack: he has eleven figures and a hobby. This team is pennies to Prokhorov, it catapults him into the American public eye, and his investment is now worth almost five times what he paid for it. If he ever does sell the team off, chances are he could net the first billion-dollar payment in NBA franchise history.
Now all he has to do is avoid getting married. -D.K.
Relevant Mikhail Prokhorov video:
9. Tyson Chandler.
Tyson Chandler, Destroyer of Worlds, will always be one of my Knicks darlings for inspiring what I consider to be one of the top-five GIFs of the 2012-2013 NBA season (in a game against the Nets, no less), which you can see below.
Just know that the 7-foot-1 giant destroying your town with the laser beams coming out of your eyes will be doing so on the support of the legs of a preteen girl.
But putting aside Chandler’s inappropriately bombastic on-court reactions to the most meaningless of achievements, the man can flat-out play some defense. Combine that with his devastating ability as a pick-and-roll finisher on lobs from Raymond Felton, and you’ve got a center I can get behind (and apparently tip over with my little finger).
Hopefully he stays healthy this season, for there’s little more I love watching that Brook Lopez pop a slow-as-molasses set shot in Tyson’s face after intelligently declining to take him one-on-one to the hole. -D.S.
Relevant Tyson Chandler GIF:
8. Deron Williams.
The first draft of these rankings had Williams below Livingston. After all, until last week the dream of Williams in a Brooklyn Nets uniform next to Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce was but a gleam in Billy King’s creative eye. His mysterious ankle injury kept him out of preseason games, out of full-contact practices, and out of sorts. It almost looked like he’d sit out the start of the season, and weirder, it almost seemed like they wouldn’t miss him.
Then he returned, promptly hit three threes, whipped a dime to Brook Lopez for an easy bucket, and reminded us in ten minutes why we should never have forgotten him. It’s the curious circumstances of his injury alone that kept him out of the top five. -D.K.
Relevant Deron Williams Video:
7. Nets TV.
The secret’s out: the Brooklyn Nets TV crew on the YES Network is definitively the best crew league-wide and has been for quite some time (Mike Breen and Clyde are probably the second best). Anyone who knows me knows my deep infatuation with the anchor of that crew, Ian Eagle, a man who continues to be disrespected by networks with the dearth of national NBA games assigned to him to call.
He’s crucially impartial (a quality all too often cast to the side of the road, beaten with a sledgehammer, and urinated on among local NBA broadcasters), he provides just the right amount of excitement, and his rapport with long-time partner Mike Fratello is impeccable.
Take this call on Mirza Teletovic’s preseason putback dunk as an exemplar for his excellence:
He even works in a self-referential quip labeling the dunk a “foreign facial,” a line he has, over the years, most often used to describe Nene’s dunks but extends back at least to the Nenad Krstic days.
Ryan Ruocco, Jim Spanarkel, Greg Anthony … all great. It’s just a flawless experience to watch Nets games on YES. -D.S.
Relevant Nets TV Video:
6. Paul Pierce.
I actually like Pierce in black and white. It wasn’t that weird seeing him not wear the green to me. I’m really excited for what Pierce can do in Brooklyn, and if what he has said about having too many open shots is true, that’s going to mean awesome things for the Nets offense.
I also started to wonder: how many players have ever gone on to team up with someone who crossed them up as bad as Joe Johnson did Pierce last season?
You know there was some tension the first time Pierce saw Johnson after joining the Nets. Not that Johnson would have displayed the slightest inkling of emotion in response.
Much has been made of Pierce and Garnett’s intensity and their emotional compatibility with the Nets. I don’t think it’s going to be much of a problem. Two guys who have won that are still trying hard to win? What’s not to like about that? -D.S.
Relevant Paul Pierce GIF: