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Mikhail Prokhorov: Lessons Learned or a Mea Culpa?


Just hours after Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported exclusively that the Nets had offered Sean Marks their GM job, Yahoo! had another exclusive, courtesy of the Nets: A letter from Mikhail Prokhorov on what he's learned in the nearly six years he's owned the team.

He does not mention Sean Marks or what looks to be the Nets latest crisis: Will Marks take the job?

The letter seemed a cross between a classic corporate "lessons learned" exercise and a personal "mea culpa" to fans.  There were also a few slaps at the outgoing regime in Brooklyn ... and his own strategy.  Bottom line: "We had been told that you can’t buy a championship. Truer words were never spoken."

Prokhorov breaks down his lessons learned into eight categories and in each, he admits mistakes and offers a pledge that things have changed. They are "Some Things Money Can’t Buy," "Strategy Beats Opportunity," "Culture Trumps Talent," "Brooklyn Means Business," "Losing and Winning Go Hand in Hand," "The Best Things in Life Are Free," "Howdy, Stranger," and "To Err Is Human."  A lot to read ... and digest.

The two biggest issues going forward: the ones about strategy beating opportunity and culture trumping talent.

Here's strategy beating opportunity, which seems a critique of the way Billy King and his own ownership team ran the Nets...

The problem for the Nets has been lack of concept. In-stead of being opportunistic, working all the angles and trades, we must have a strategy about the team’s identity. Do we want to be choosy and wait for a star player to build around, maybe sacrificing a season to get him? Do we want to focus on the power of the whole by choosing young players with specific talents to work together? Will we choose mettle, commitment and heart over pure stats? Are we offense-based or defense-based? What are the core capabilities we will focus on to win in the long term? These are the questions that must be answered before any other decisions are made, and these are the questions at the top of the agenda for the new management team.

And culture trumping talent. No doubt who he's talking about here...

Getting everyone pulling in the same direction, working toward a single goal is not easy. I’ve seen over these years that personalities can strongly affect results. There can be differences of vision and opinion, and everyone should be heard, but, once we have a strategy, we all need to work together to fulfill it and put our individual is-sues behind us. It also means we need to have the courage to say, "We’ll not go for that player because, as much as he’s talented, he doesn’t fit into the culture we are building." It takes guts to say "no" as much as it does to say "yes."

Much of what the Nets owner writes is a more reflective version of his comments the day after he dumped Lionel Hollins and Billy King. And he does talk about the fun he and the fans have had. Most importantly, he again promises better times ahead.

It’s okay to admit mistakes, as long as you never admit de-feat! At the Brooklyn Nets, we are now poised to refocus our efforts on disciplined analysis and planning. Our fans in Brooklyn and beyond deserve a team worthy of their time and devotion, and we’re going to give them one. Lessons learned.

Let's hope so.  Prokhorov will be in Brooklyn at noon today for the opening of the HSS Training Center.