"Ten Days That Shook The World" is title of John Reed's famous history of the Russian Revolution. Throw "basketball" into the title and you have an accurate description of what the transformation the Nets have undergone in the past 10 days, from Jason Kidd donning sweats as Nets head coach last Monday to Thursday's transformational trade.
And don't dismiss the Russian angle in the analogy.
This was all Moscow, an attempt by Mikhail Prokhorov and (particularly) his right hand man, Dmitry Razumov, to win it all. Remember, Billy King noted that at first he was "resistant" to the idea of a newly retired player as the Nets head coach before "ownership said, 'you should talk to him'." And the BIG trade was accomplished in the three days Razumov spent on the ground in New York, pushing, pushing, pushing to get it done before the opportunity slipped away.
Ownership is critical to any team, but the Nets ownership is even more critical. On arrival, it was faced with a team that had been 12-70, reduced its scouting staff to three, forced its assistant coaches to share salary and had most of its staff acccept unpaid Friday furloughs. It has been willing to authorize --and pay for-- big moves. Mikhail Prokhorov's business philosophy has always been to get into a business with a bang, often rescuing (as he did with the Nets) a failing business with huge infusions of cash, hiring local talent, then giving them the resources to do the job.
Their record is not perfect. Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo is testament to that. No matter what you think of them as men or coaches, the Russians didn't enhance their reputations as managers with the hiring and firing of Johnson and Carlesimo. They would admit that.
But there are few, if any, GM's who wouldn't want the financial support they have provided. It's not just taking on monstrous luxury tax bills or dropping spending on things like studio lighting for Barclays Center ($3 million please). It the five-star accommodations, the top-of-the-line technology from iPads to conditioning equipment to video projectors. Not to mention the "basketball campus" underneath the stands at Barclays ($10 million, please).
It's also about trust, trusting in Billy King, Bobby Marks (and increasingly Frank Zanin, King's long-time assistant) and trusting in Jeff Schwartz, who shepherded Deron Williams through re-signing, introduced the idea of Jason Kidd as head coach and got Paul Pierce to tell Danny Ainge Brooklyn was his preferred destination, a move that got Kevin Garnett on board.
More importantly, though, it's all about risk, the kind BIG businessmen take. They decisions to take on Joe Johnson's contract; listen to, then hire Kidd; fire and hire coaches; then last night, put down a huge bet on two aging Hall of Famers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. are all risks many owners would shy away from. Prokhorov and Razumov have done all that in a year.
Will it work? Who knows? They admit they will have to be patient with Kidd. They understand Pierce and Garnett are on their last legs as players, that the luxury tax bill will be astronomical. and that the Nets did give up three first round picks that could replenish the roster once Pierce and Garnett are done.
They will point to how well their investments in the Nets have done thus far when the money becomes a topic of discussion. They bought 80 percent of the team, 45 percent of the arena holding company --and a 20 percent option on the overall Atlantic Yards project-- for $223 million and the assumption of some debt. If the Kings are a $525 million value, what is Prokhorov's investment worth three years after he made it? $700 million, $800 million? You know what's cool? a BILLION dollars. That's where you're headed.
One thing is sure. This is a team and an organization that is causing heads to turn around the league. Forget the punditry around the league. Players don't read a lot that. They see the investment in winning, in amenities like Barclays Center and say, as Trevor Ariza did, "Their floor is dope. The arena is dope. It’s a cool place to play. I think this city of Brooklyn is a proud city. They back anything that comes out of their city, they rep it, they love it with all their heart."
Besides, as fans, particularly as die-hard, down-so-long-looks-like-up-to-me fans, it's just great fun to watch!!
- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce? Mikhail Prokhorov makes Brooklyn Nets a contender - Ian O'Connor - ESPN New York