In a story on Mikhail Prokhorov’s decade as Nets owner, Prokhorov’s top basketball adviser Sergei Kushchenko tells TASS, the Russian news agency, that his boss looked at the Knicks and Suns before settling on the Nets.
“Prokhorov started toying with the idea of purchasing an NBA team back in 2007,” said Kushchenko who was his GM at CSKA Moscow and member of the Nets board. “And in 2008, during the Summer Olympics in Beijing, we were already holding negotiations on this issue with NBA Commissioner David Stern.
”We were looking over various options at that time,” Kushchenko continued. “Among them were the New York Knicks, who asked for a bizarre sum, the Phoenix Suns and the New Jersey Nets. We decided to focus on the New Jersey Nets since it was a completely different market then in addition to the prospect of the new arena’s construction along with a full-fledged business framework.”
Another Nets insider told NetsDaily that it wasn’t only the price that turned Prokhorov off, but the Knicks debt load as well. (The insider also said the Grizzlies approached the Russians long before he bought the Nets.)
Prokhorov, on the other hand, found the Nets price “appealing,” he told TASS writer Andrey Kartashov.
Asked about his most pleasant memory, Prokhorov cited the construction of Barclays Center despite a number of obstacles.
“A small, but very significant crowd of Brooklyn community organizers were dead set against dismantling the rusty railways and old buildings to clear the area for the construction of the future arena, but the price of the deal was really appealing,” Prokhorov said. “I recall gaping at the construction site, which was simply a huge excavated pit, and hoped that everything would turn out to be all right in the end.”
There were, he said, other moments he cherishes.
”I can recall unforgettable moments during the course of the club’s ten-year history, for instance the Jay-Z concert at Barclays Center’s opening ceremony. The Nets’ first home game, after the team moved to Brooklyn donning their new uniforms and rolling out their new colors. Four years of qualifying for the playoffs. There are many moments to cherish.”
Both he and Kushchenko admit that they were not prepared for the NBA. He may have owned a highly successful Euroleague team for more than a decade but the Nets and Brooklyn presented different challenges.
Still, Prokhorov told Kartashov, it’s all been redeemed by the Nets three-year ascent under Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson, topped off by the signing of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last month.
“The process of the team’s evolution taught us many lessons, because we launched the venture under the philosophical motto of ‘win as fast as you can,’ but then we realized that in no way can you rush and skip certain steps in order to create a winning team,” the Nets owner said.
”Three years ago, we changed our approach and now we have one of the most prestigious NBA teams, which the best players wish to join. This new approach also led to numerous business deals, which would help the Brooklyn Nets stay in perfect shape for future success,” Prokhorov added.