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Mikhail Prokhorov and the Lessons of New York

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Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

It's not the first time a sports team owner -- or a businessman -- admitted that he was unprepared for the pressures of New York, but as Mikhail Prokhorov said, he did too. "Playing in New York is a different animal."

He noted that he needed "mentally tough" players and coaches who could stand up to the city pressures -- a thinly veiled diss of Deron Williams and perhaps even his fired coach, Lionel Hollins. He said, too, that he needed "bigger leadership," one that was more about strategy than opportunities.

Now, though, he believes that with "small reset," he can bring the Nets back into contention.

Whether you think that is at best a vain hope, his belief --and he does believe it, according to people close to him--that the team could contend for championship (!) next season (!!) was the big takeaway from a press conference at Barclays Center.

What it appears to mean is that the Nets are going for what Brett Yormark has called the "quick turnaround," using the lure of New York, Brooklyn, Barclays Center, the HSS Training Center and a "young core" to bring in free agents. In an interview with Sarah Kustok of YES after the press conference, Prokhorov said he thought the Nets were "one or two players" and a "lot of luck" from contention ... but he conceded the right coach and GM were critical.

The tone of the press conference were set early. Call it the optics of accountability: Prokhorov, seated alone at a table, unsmiling, his interrogators unseen on television. The normally quotable oligarch had no opening statement and immediately took questions from dozens of reporters, both beat writers and national media. By his singular presence and in his comments, he said, he was responsible.

In addition, Prokhorov said he expects to be around more, and will even be willing to talk, day to day, if necessary, with Frank Zanin, who is taking over from Billy King. Prokhorov also appeared to dismiss a report that King will advising him on the selection of the next GM, saying King could send him his thoughts "as a friend." He also said that King's responsibilities remain unspecified, yet to be determined.

As for the process of choosing successors to Lionel Hollins and Billy King, Prokhorov said he would meet with each of the candidates. That's unlike what happened when King wanted to hire Hollins. Prokhorov never met him before he was hired .. and then only met him twice as coach.

First, some quick quotes...

"I'm sure for next season we'll be, I hope, [a] championship contender."

"I take full responsibility for the state of the team. I think Billy King did his best."

"Frankly speaking, I deserve a championship now much more than six years ago (though perhaps he meant to say "desire" instead of "deserve."). "I still believe that with some luck, our results would have been more promising [over the past few years], but I'll do my best to make us a championship team."

"We have everything the best. I'm really optimistic. I am very committed to win the championship. I am all in."

"Coach Cal is a great coach. We won't be discussing today any names because it's the first day of our new approach so were not in a hurry. We put a lot of names on [our] list."

"I think that I want us to have a much firmer blueprint of what kind of players we're looking for and why. I think we need to have a sense of identity and style of play. It will be very important conversation with the GM and coach."

"I hope we'll be back not as a playoff team, but as a championship contender. This is my only goal."

"You know, I don't like to analyze mistakes and lessons in public. I've criticized myself a lot inside of me. Some lessons I already mentioned while others deep inside of me. And trust me, I tortured myself much more than you. So, all your questions are very nice compared for what I have inside."

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