This weekend provided an interesting back and forth between former Nets’ president Rod Thorn and current Nets’ CEO Brett Yormark. It all started when Peter Vecsey talked to the Thorn over the weekend, and Thorn (now with no reason to hold back) let everyone know how he really felt about Yormark:
From what I had told, Yormark had gotten down on Thorn down the stretch, feeling he’d gotten lazy and done a poor job. Though unable to talk Bruce Ratner into firing him (the master plan was to rehire friend John Calipari and re-position him on the sidelines with complete power regarding personnel), Brett had no problem undermining Rod.
There was persistent friction between the two executives.
“Yormark was Ratner’s go-to guy for everything,” said someone in the know. “They’d speak 30 times a day. Whenever Thorn wanted to do something of substance he’d reach out to Ratner who’d immediately run it by Yormark.”
According to past and present team employees, regardless whether or not Yormark endorsed Thorn’s idea, a proposed trade, signing, whatever, was soon in the newspapers and/or on the air.
“Brett is the Nets’ chief leak,” maintains one and all.
“I don’t deny my dislike for the guy,” Thorn admitted last Friday when asked by phone about their contentious relationship. “But he’s not the reason I left.”
Thorn playfully brushed off a request for specifics while conceding “had Yormark owned enough clout he positively would’ve brought back Calipari to run the show.
After hearing these remarks, Yormark quickly responded:
“For the last couple of months I’ve been clearly focused on working with [general manager Billy King] and Avery on getting this franchise back to a best-in-class status,” Yormark said Sunday evening. “Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done after Rod’s 12-70 season, both on and off the court.”
I am not going to talk about who is right here and who is wrong. Kelly Dwyer already did an amazing job of it yesterday over at Ball Don’t Lie. However, this does confirm what I believed since the beginning. Yormark is a fantastically smart business man, but he shouldn’t be anywhere near the Nets when they are discussing basketball moves.
First, let’s look at Yormark’s business savvy. Yormark had a ridiculously tough job last year, trying to keep fans in the seats and advertisers interested while dealing with one of the worst teams in NBA history. Yorkmark started by doing the whole reversible jersey thing. Most of the hardcore fans scoffed at the idea, but it was successful in bringing casual NBA fans into the building. Obviously he has to be a smart businessman since another ridiculously smart businessman, Mikhail Prokhorov, decided to keep Yormark when he took over.
The problem is that he didn’t just do the business stuff. If Vecsey’s column is true, he obviously played a much bigger role than most Nets fans would like to see. There is no way on earth that Brett Yormark should have any say in what Rod Thorn wants to do. With this news coming out, I am almost willing to hold Yormark as responsible as Ratner for a lot of the Nets problems. Did Thorn hold onto Jefferson too long? Yes. Did he hold onto Carter for too long? Yes.
However, Ratner (and now we know Yormark) undercut him in other ways. The Nets cut their coaching/scouting/support staff last year in order to save money (now the Nets have one of the largest scouting departments in the league). They decided to have a lame duck coach in Lawrence Frank stay for his final year rather than pay two head coaches (we saw how that went).
I almost have a bigger problem with Brett Yormark being the source of most of the Nets leaks (I do find it funny that a different unnamed source leaked this info). Obviously Yormark has business in mind when doing this. Leaking a team’s plans and news keeps them relevant, and that is what Yormark needs for him to do his job well. The problem is that these leaks hurt the Nets in the basketball-sense.
Everyone in the Nets front office made mistakes that led to last year’s 70 loss season, so for Yormark to make these comments about Rod Thorn is silly (and Rod Thorn probably should of held off making his comments about Yormark).
Sometimes fans forget that for owners (and CEOs) that basketball is a business. An investment they have made to become even richer than they already are. It sucks for fans sometimes (last year was a prime example), but it is the truth. I don’t really have a problem with it as long as the business side and the basketball side stay separated (for example, the reversible jersey stuff had no direct effect on the Nets basketball-wise), but when they mix and when the CEO starts doing things that help the business but hurts the basketball, then there are problems.