In a wide-ranging look back his career, Rod Thorn told Adrian Wojnarowski this week that Mikhail Prokhorov and Dmitry Razumov wanted him to stay after they bought the New Jersey Nets back in 2010, but that believed his "time was up" after 11 years as president of basketball operations.
Thorn, who had traded for Jason Kidd, then Vince Carter, in his time with the Nets, had previously served under co-owners Lewis Katz and Ray Chambers, then Bruce Ratner, the latter a particularly trying time as Ratner cut costs and the team still lost money while waiting the move to Brooklyn. Then, in May 2010, Prokhorov bought 80 percent of the team.
Asked by Woj about his departure later in 2010, which led to Prokhorov hiring Billy King, he said Russian ownership had pressed him to stay, but declined.
"My feeling at the time ... and Prokhorov and Razumov, i had no negative feelings about either one of them at the time I dealt mostly with Dmitry Razumov ... I could have stayed as you point out. In fact, the last time we met, they made it very clear that they would like for me to stay.
"My feeling had been that I had been here, I had been in that job as long as I could be in that job. and it just was my feeling that I had nothing else to do there in my mind. I needed a fresh something at that time. I just didn't feel --i had been there what 11 or 12 years -- been there a long time through some really, really good times and every time I look up in the rafters I see a lot of things up there that happened during those times. I always get a little rush about when I see that. I just thought it was over."
When Woj pressed him on whether he agreed with ownership's strategy to fast track things, and whether Brett Yormark had too much power, that "basketball not steering the ship," Thorn again said the decision was purely his ... but admitted, in general, the league has become dominated by billionaires who say, "we got to do this or else."
"Teams have changed. Ownership has changed. Virtually everybody that owns a team today is a billionaire. There's no more mom and pop, there's no more what we had in the ABA when we were trying to make it every day and what you had verious times in the NBA. where we're all in it together. Now, it's 'we got to do this or else' basically, but it was me. I just felt my time was up. YOu know, your time's up. From time to time, you've got to be cognizant of it or smart enough to understand and sometimes, your time's up! I just thought my time was up there."
Thorn talked extensively about how he feels about Jason Kidd --he's now advising the Bucks-- and what Kidd meant to the Nets.
He talked about how Kidd made everyone "even me" better, taking marginal players and making them "pretty good," as well as leading in a quiet way. He said that the Kidd era began to suffer not long after Ratner bought the team in 2003, although he didn't mention Ratner by name.
"When ownership let Kenyon Martin go (to Denver), Jason felt ownership didn't care about winning," said Thorn adding that Kidd began "doing everything in his power to get traded" and Thorn ultimately sent Kidd to Dallas. But said Thorn, things ultimately balanced out. "without Jason Kidd, a lot of us, including me, wouldn't have been as good."