Final Stats: Roughly $18 billion, 1 meeting with Carmelo Anthony, 1 franchise-altering trade, 35 million 1-dollar bills given over 5 years to Travis Outlaw, one 24-win season, considerable progress on the Barclays Center
It was nothing if not a tumultuous year for the Russian billionaire as a first-year owner, the first foreign owner in the NBA. In a season consistently mired by the Carmelo Anthony deal, Prokhorov (who will occasionally be referred to as “Mickey P”) remained a looming overlord, prepared to strike a deal at any moment.
The impression throughout the league was that Mickey P was calling the shots trying to get Carmelo, convinced that the Nets needed a star as they moved to Brooklyn. While the Nets did end up getting their star – one that, in this man’s opinion, shines more brightly than Carmelo’s – that was more due to the work of Billy King than Mickey P. Still, the pressure Mickey P put on King was assuredly part of his motivation to get a deal done.
In truth, Prokhorov did everything a team would want from its owner: he threw barbs at opponents, showed great emotion when they won, and had no issues casually throwing the maximum $3 million into deals to make them happen – something Bruce Ratner never did.
The Pink Shirt: On the day that I went on ESPN’s Daily Dime TV lambasting the Nets for taking too long and telling them to back out of this deal, Mickey P coincidentally went out and did just that: repeatedly referring to the “Carmela” deal as ludicrous, saying that it had put a negative cloud over the team, and telling the press that the Nets have moved on from Denver. It was a huge power move, and while the Nets did return to the negotiating table, they ended up using their leverage masterfully, forcing the Knicks to sell the farm while the Nets swung a better deal for a better player.
The Paper Bag: There’s truthfully not much to say in the negative side – one could argue that returning to talk to Carmelo was a miscue, but even that (whether intentionally or otherwise) became a larger part of a grand scheme. If anything, I would say that Prokhorov’s paper bag was striking out in free agency – after a lot of posturing, the Nets failed to sign anyone of major consequence in the 2010 offseason. After promising playoffs within a year, the Nets have to play a waiting game in that field again.
Final Thoughts: Prokhorov may be the best owner in the NBA, he may not. He is, according to Forbes, the 2nd-most wealthy owner of a sports team in the world and the richest in U.S. sports. But his presence has without a doubt begun to shape the Nets as a different franchise, eschewing the 70-loss seasons in favor of a hopeful future. The steel has gone up in Brooklyn because of his contributions, the Nets have a legitimate superstar in Deron Williams, and Prokhorov continues to do ridiculous billionaire things like go heli-skiing in Vancouver. Truthfully, when you’re dealt a 70-loss team, it’s hard to do better with the cards you’ve been given.
Final Grade: A-