x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Russian owner announces his edict: Brooklyn must net results

The Brooklyn Nets have received a mandate from Mikhail Prokhorov: simply win a championship, states Steve Dilbeck.

Brooklyn Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to see quick returns on his investment such as, say, an NBA title this season.
Brooklyn Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to see quick returns on his investment such as, say, an NBA title this season.

Mikhail Prokhorov is a man constantly on the move.

He is leading major industrial companies or jumping out of helicopters to ski or running for president of Russia or becoming the first non-North American to own an NBA team.

He is not just on the move, but in a serious hurry to get there.

He is 47 years old and speeding through the days like he can hear a loud clock ticking.

Maybe it is because both his parents died of heart failure in the late 50s. Currently he is in a hurry to win with his Brooklyn Nets.

And right now, he is discovering that is a whole other world.

A billionaire, he purchased the Nets in 2010 and this season moved them from New Jersey to Brooklyn, where he became 45 per cent owner of the new Barclays Center.

After spending US$330 million (Dh1.2 billion) to upgrade the roster he pronounced that he expected the Nets to advance to the conference finals.

With Deron Williams as the point guard and Joe Johnson the new shooting guard, Prokhorov took time off from his jet-ski tricks to prepare his conquest of the NBA.

Things began well enough, with the Nets breaking out to an 11-4 start. But then came a 3-10 skid and Prokhorov cut short an extreme skiing trip in Canada to fire coach Avery Johnson. That would be the same Avery Johnson who was coach of the month in November.

"To me, this is totally unacceptable," said Prokhorov, and the Nets named assistant PJ Carlesimo the interim head coach.

Word quickly spread their prime focus would be on signing Phil Jackson, the most successful coach in NBA history.

The Nets have always played in the New York shadow of the Knicks, but Prokhorov hungers for things beyond the City that Never Sleeps.

His mandate to Carlesimo was straightforward: "Just to win a championship, very simple."

Carlesimo won his first two games, improving their record to 16-14. Currently that would be enough to edge them into the play-offs, but it is a long way from a conference final.

Prokhorov remains full of bravado, but a willingness to spend seldom translates to immediate success.

The Miami Heat, who landed two of the game's biggest stars in LeBron James and Chris Bosh, were unable to win a championship their first season.

Right now there seems little to justify the Prokhorov bluster. The Nets have the NBA's 22nd-ranked offence and Williams (16.6 points, 7.8 assists per game) is looking something less than a franchise player.

"Of course, it is only the beginning of the [season]," Prokhorov said. "[Expectations] are not very high, just championship, not more."



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