In response to questions from NetsDaily posters, Mikhail Prokhorov talks at length about his GM and head coach; suggests that he’s learned his lesson on “skipping steps;” talks about how having a strong culture draws the best free agents — “If you build it, they will come;” details just how important technology has become in everything from player development to ticket sales and says he “sure hopes” Sean Marks will be with the team “for a long long time to come.”
Prokhorov, now in his 10th season as owner, asked NetsDaily to come up with questions from fans in light of the Nets success in this year’s free agency. We chose seven we thought best exemplified fan sentiment. As for that free agency success, Prokhorov says it’s has been particularly “rewarding” for him but he believes “the biggest reward, I hope, is still ahead of us.”
Here’s his response to your questions...
FROM MIKHAIL PROKHOROV:
Hi, Nets fans! First of all a big thank you to all of you who submitted questions. I read them with a lot of interest, and some of them were very funny (shoutout to gsloots for best in show!), in addition to being well considered. Looking forward to seeing you when the season begins. And now, to the answers….Yours, Mikhail.
Q. Hello, is it possible to give Sean Mark’s a lifetime appointment as General Manager of this franchise? Greatly appreciated!
A. Dear Demmer555. It’s a great thought and I’m glad you like what Sean (and Kenny, of course!) are doing with the team. I have to say I like it too. Regarding a lifetime appointment, my first association on that issue was with Lenin, and that didn’t work out so great, as we all remember. But I sure hope Sean will be with us for a long, long time to come!
Q. What have some of the most rewarding moments been of your tenure as owner of the Nets?
A. Thanks, JayTas. There have been many. I would say in the top would be when we moved the team to Brooklyn and had the first game at Barclays Center. I remember looking out over a massive hole in the ground just a couple of years before that and wondering whether it would all really come together. And seeing the team in the new uniforms in the great new arena - it was just a magical time. Also, getting to the playoffs was special, especially this last season when we fought so hard to get there and really no one expected us to do it. And, of course, the free agency period this year shows me, first and foremost, that we are respected by the players and the League. This is rewarding for me. But the biggest reward, I hope, is still ahead of us.
Q. What has been the biggest lesson you have learned as an owner of an NBA franchise and what person or event taught you that lesson?
A. Well, lionofbedstuy, I would say the biggest lesson is that you can’t skip steps. You must build carefully and constantly and focus on all of the little details to create a team that goes all the way. Undoubtedly, Sean and Kenny are instrumental in teaching this lesson to me and to the team, but each and every one of us is a teacher based on what our role is in the bigger picture. My job is to give the moral and financial support to all the elements - whether it’s a new practice facility or providing more of a budget for the top physical trainers or creating infrastructure so that the players and their families feel comfortable. The players are also a big part of the building, working day in and day out on their game, focusing on the good of the team, being a part of this culture. So we’re all teachers in this and students for each other at the same time. I think it’s working.
Q. Can you reflect on the rebuild experience, and how you learned from the previous attempt to build a winning team in Brooklyn the first time versus now?
A. Thank you for the question, Ccrules2791. I think the first time we approached the rebuild the idea was to really go big and take some risks. Honestly, it was a choice that could have paid off, but didn’t in our case. We did, however, bring quite a bit of excitement to the team at the time, and, considering we had moved to a new market, maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, even though we did pay a high price in the seasons that followed.
Now, we have a much more strategic approach, much more comprehensive. It is based on a very thorough analysis of all the many aspects of what can deliver us a winning team, starting with the mindset. What I have learned is that, to borrow from a movie about another sport, if you build it, they will come. Players want to be at a team with a strong sense of culture and vision. I think we saw this in free agency this year.
Q. What level of communication is there between coaching staff and ownership?
A. Thanks, skwan. My approach to every business I am involved with is to hire well, don’t interfere, but let your team members know the door is always open. Happily, my new partner in the Nets, Joe Tsai, feels the same way. And Dmitry Razumov, the Robin to my Batman, is another great source of support who spends a great deal of time thinking about the team and communicating with Sean and Kenny. This has led to a very harmonious relationship between all of us. Sean knows he can reach out at any time, and he gives me regular updates and we discuss key decisions ahead of time. But, really, I don’t see my role as second guessing the people I’ve hired to do a job. I always look for people stronger than myself in their given fields and show maximum support for their vision for as long as I have confidence that they’re moving in the right direction.
Q. I know you are a busy man and we miss seeing you around! Any plans for another training session with the team
A. Hi, jumpman! I totally loved working out with the team and doing some Tescao moves together. I do believe that this type of Tibetan training is very useful for developing coordination and balance, targeting small muscle groups and evening out the right and left sides of the body and I swear by it. But I think I’ll leave the Nets physical training to our incredibly qualified team in Brooklyn. They know what they’re doing. And if any of the players would like to do a session here in Moscow, they’re more than welcome.
Q. How do you envision the role of technology and data in further keeping the resources of the organization forward thinking and on the cutting edge, from the front office to the basketball court?
--We Go Hard
A. Thanks, WGH. Considering that I still don’t use a computer or a smartphone, you’ve definitely picked the right person to answer this one! I think that technology is certainly enabling us to get a better picture of what is actually going on in a game. It’s beyond the number of three-point shots and rebounds, down to specific angles, perfecting specific shots, predicting and analyzing what opponents will likely do, predicting the strengths and weaknesses of young players when we are in draft season…all of this kind of information is constantly improving and can be put to use to get a winning edge.
Also, we see it in the physical training and medical treatment for players. Technology gives us a great way to improve player performance. I would also add that fan service for ticket sales and at games are driven more and more by technology and data. We are able to use our digital platforms to better communicate with fans, and mobile apps to add value the guest experience within the arena. This all helps to be better at what we do and, hopefully, give you a better fan experience.