Prokhorov Reiterates Commitment To Nets, Denies Rumors Team Is For Sale
Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov on Thursday spoke to reporters in London and "seemed intent on allaying some of the criticism" regarding the "strength of his commitment to the team," according to John Burns of the N.Y. TIMES. The Nets-Hawks game at O2 Arena marked Prokhorov's "first appearance at a Nets game" since November, and he has "watched the Nets play in person only twice this season." But Prokhorov said that he "had seen enough to conclude that their disappointing start was not an accurate marker of their progress." He also disputed a recent rumor, saying, "I have not any idea, any desire, to sell the team." But Burns writes Prokhorov "sounded less sure that he would want to own the team once a championship had been won." Prokhorov: "You can address that question to me as soon as I have a championship ring. Before that, I'm proud to be the owner of the Nets" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/17). In N.Y., Stefan Bondy writes Prokhorov was "a little less bullish than his normal self when discussing the championship potential" of the Nets and "saved his most passionate words to defend himself against criticisms that he's an absentee owner." Prokhorov "predictably backed coach Jason Kidd and threw in his usual witty one-liners" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/17). Prokhorov said that he never considered "pushing the panic button and firing" GM Billy King or any other front office staff. Prokhorov: "I'm realistic in sports. We have a lot of new players. We have unfortunately a lot of injuries, so it's not an excuse. But what, for me, is important is what was atmosphere of the team. It was positive, it was full support for Jason Kidd. That means, like, we need to wait" (ESPN.com, 1/16).
OUT OF SIGHT, NOT OUT OF MIND? On Long Island, Roderick Boone writes Prokhorov in "his first true chat with the media" since July "staunchly defended his lack of appearances at games this season." Prokhorov said, "I'll be back to Brooklyn after Olympics. I am very busy because I am president of the Russian biathlon union. So I have a lot of jobs to do during the Olympics. But after the Olympics, I of course will be at more games. But frankly speaking, there's a lot of criticism that I am not in Brooklyn. But I just have a question for you: Do you really think you need me sitting in the arena to see a game? My friends, we are living in the 21st century. And in spite of the fact I have no computer, I still have a subscription for NBA games, and for me, it's like enough to even have a look on the stats so you can understand what is going on. They send it over with carrier pigeon after each game, and of course in two weeks I get it in Moscow. So like I'm full in, I'm all in for this team, and I think it's the only way how to reach championship" (NEWSDAY, 1/17).
BROOKLYN IN THE HOUSE: The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Bondy writes the sellout crowd for the Nets' win over the Hawks was "decidedly pro-Nets," as black-and-white jerseys were "sprinkled throughout the O2 Arena." Still, Rock & Roll HOFer Paul McCartney and several pro soccer players "received the biggest ovations when shown on the video screen." NBA Commissioner David Stern was also in attendance (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/17). In N.Y., Tim Bontemps notes the Nets returned to the U.S. after "capping an eventful week with a victory" over the Hawks. Kidd said of the Nets players, "The credit goes to those guys. They had appearances, we had two practices, they had time commitments where they had to be at different places, and they never complained. They did everything we've asked from them on this trip" (N.Y. POST, 1/17).