When Mikhail Prokhorov ran it, CSKA Moscow's player amenities --locker room, training facilities, transportation, etc.-- were generally considered the best in Europe...often described as "NBA quality". He and his executives understood that money wasn't the only thing free agents, even Euroleague free agents, were looking for.
The surroundings, the value ownership placed on the players' well-being, that all counted...a lot. It's a lesson not lost on the Nets' new owner as he begins planning for July 1.
During Monday's tour of the Prudential Center, Mikhail Prokhorov spent time on the court, tested his courtside seat, visited a couple of arena lounges, but found himself stopping and spending a lot of time in a work area behind the stands.
A reporter for "Snob", his Russian magazine, explains:
"At some point we came to an unprepared room with peeling walls and, for some reason, barbed wire. As it turned out, this is a work area where the New Jersey Nets will have their lockers, showers, recreation and everything else that is necessary for the full convenience of players. Prokhorov became excited. He carefully took a plan for the space from Cory Booker, separated himself from the group and began his study in detail, going from one wall to another.
"Creating ideal conditions for all players - this is what Prokhorov plans to follow personally."
Afterwards, he gave "Snob" a short interview in Russian about the importance of the players' facilities. Here's a translation:
"The layout and design are professional questions, but in terms of functionality I want to understand how the team will be situated here. It's very important in any sport nowadays that a player who comes for a game doesn't have to think about anything else. Everything needs to be comfortable, functional and the way he likes things to be. He needs to feel at home. It's very important. And the first thing free agents ask about, aside from salary, is what the so-called perks will be. And we need to be able to give them an answer that is absolutely competitive with other teams'."
It's not the first time he's toured players' facilities while in New York. He had an extensive tour of Yankee Stadium during his May visit and was particularly interested in the players' quarters. He saw the locker room, massage area, workout area...all of it and spoke about this with Yankees' management.