Tim Bontemps of the NY Post had a good piece today on the rise of the Nets to prominence under owner Mikhail Prokhorov. It’s a piece that looks at Prokhorov’s declaration that he would lead the Nets to a championship or get married and the true meaning behind it.
Read the entire piece to get the full explanation of what exactly the “championship or marriage” declaration really means, but, really, all you need are these quotes from Paul Pierce:
“You’re definitely surprised, because since I’ve been in the NBA, when you’ve looked at the Nets, you always looked at them as bottom-dwellers,” Pierce told Bontemps. “They have only put a couple of winning teams out in the last 10-15 years since I’ve been in the league, [and] nobody really respected them.
“Now they’ve got new owners, now they’ve got a new building, now they’ve got a new attitude … you can definitely see a change in what’s going on, and I can see this organization really rising to the ranks of the respectability of the Lakers, of the Knicks, of the Celtics, that’s what they’re trying to build, but in order to do that you have to have the players, you have to have great management and you have to have great owners, and that’s what I see in place here in Brooklyn.”
It’s true and it reminds me of something that one of the fans outside the Barclays Center said to me on the day of the Pierce/Kevin Garnett press conference — that the New Jersey Nets were a team that wasn’t used to expecting good things. A big trade happened maybe once every 10 years. However, in recent years two of the biggest deals in the organization’s history have been pulled off including the KG-Pierce trade and the deal for Deron Williams.
Just look at this offseason alone — KG could have, and briefly wanted to, veto the deal to Brooklyn, but Pierce talked him out of it because they wanted a chance to win. Andrei Kirilenko then signed here afterward and took significantly less money to do so. That kind of stuff couldn’t have and wouldn’t have happened even five years ago in New Jersey. It’s almost like a totally new organization and it started with a promise by Prokhorov.
I wonder though, how much of it was the move to Brooklyn and how much was made possible by Prokhorov and his money? Could one have happened without the other?