Saturday, January 21, 2012

N.J./BKN Nets ~ Team Lacks a Head of State

From the desk of:   THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Neighborhood view; Barclays Center from Bergen Street.

On This Snowy Morning, Brooklyn History Was Made.

The Nets' Owner is Far Away and Took the Team's Only SIZZLE With Him.

With the Knicks in distress, Mikhail Prokhorov should be present and leading his team
through the duration of the season.

On the court, the Nets already have more problems than a math book.  And now cracks seem to be appearing in their foundation.  Their principle owner; Mikhail Prokhorov; for the moment at least, has better things to do.  If his Russian political aspirations turn out favorably, he has announced he will indeed sell his team shares into a Blind Trust; which effectively takes him out of the picture, without having to relinquish ownership of the team.

While the Net owner's quest to be a benevolent modern day tsar is not new, his endeavours none-the-less detract from the organization's dwindling level of whatever cache they still have in light of their move to Brooklyn later this year.  And in my opinion, his absence has hindered..., or, has done little to sway the opinion of two players who seemingly want to play in Brooklyn.

Prokhorov's arrival on NYC's basketball landscape sent shock waves throughout James Dolan's monopolistic empire; more so than Bruce Ratner created with his initial announcement to move the Nets to Brooklyn.  There is no denying since Prokhorov took over the Nets, it's hard to talk NYC basketball without mentioning both teams now.  He came to town and added sizzle.  That's more than the Nets organization could ever lay claim to before.  Last season, the Nets and Knicks off-court battle for Carmelo Anthony brought good exciting anxiety to the city as well.

Today, not so much.  At present, the media scours through a thesaurus seeking synonyms for the word futility when ever the conversation turns to the area's state of basketball.  Additionally, much of the initial skirmishing between the competing capitalists has long since subsided.  The Billboard Wars are something from before the Lock-Out, and since threatened with direct competition due to the construction of Barclays Center, Dolan's haste to renovate Madison Square Garden is well underway.  These days, both teams quietly remain in their neutral corners and left to deal with their own  respective problems.

It's increasingly becoming more critical to the Nets' immediate future that Mikhail Prokhorov again becomes an in-area presence in order for the Nets to gain a sure footing in Brooklyn.  The Nets need that media presence and the sizzle he added to the newly created inner-city rivalry.  James Dolan is on the hunt for microphones and TV time again as evidenced by his latest N.Y. Rangers press conference. But for the Nets, an on-site owner like Dolan is needed as well.  Merely being available for comment or to do a radio spot could go a long way towards keeping the Nets relevant in light of a poor season thus far.

Any proactive measure right now couldn't hurt.  The Nets situation with Deron Williams is tenuous at best.  On the one hand he's very open to staying and signing on with the Nets.  But not if the future looks bleak.  Deron Williams has displayed open dissatisfaction with the state of Nets right now.  Brook Lopez may not only be injured physically.  By now he must be injured emotionally as well with all the proposed trade talk.  All other plans remain stuck in the mud until the Dwight Howard situation comes to a head, or Deron Williams leaves first.  The clock is ticking.

To borrow an old Cold War phrase, for the Nets it's two minutes to midnight.  Mikhail Prokhorov's newest problem on the Howard front is not what trade package Orlando might accept; Orlando themselves; or anything of the kind.  The problem is now Patrick Ewing's attempts to convince Dwight Howard that New York and Brooklyn are staunch Knickerbocker loyalists, and that the Brooklyn Nets have no real chance of building nor enjoying a dedicated fan base of their own.

The Nets' owner is dropping the ball right now.  He needs to be on hand to at least reinvigorate  interest around town and bring back some of the sizzle he brought last year.  If he doesn't, Dolan surely will.  Jimmy Gigs may not know basketball OR hockey, but he knows show business and owns his own channel and cable network.  So who knows what he's liable to do.

Truth is, Reality has both teams in one hand and slapped them across the head with the other.  This is precisely why it's a prime time for Mikhail Prokhorov to be a visible head of State.  James Dolan's Knicks are reeling, and have been for years now in spite of their roster overhaul.  Someone with Mikhail Prokhorov's swagger can potentially one-up James Dolan when ever the need arises.  But he must also be an active member in creating an environment; and not just an arena; where marquee players will want to play in.

Owners do that.  Not General Managers.  Lest we forget the Knicks still don't have one.  Just watching James Dolan trip over himself is proof enough that Mikhail Prokhorov has had a tremendous impact in Dolan's life.  And right now, the Nets are in dire need of some new sizzle.  They need to give Deron Williams a reason to stay and Dwight Howard a reason to come here.  Patrick Ewing has been promoting himself as somewhat of a Brooklyn expert lately and telling Howard how WE can't be a viable fan base.  As a former player; one of the NBA's Top 50 All-Time Players; and being a former Knicks great; maybe that carries some weight in Howard's eyes.  That's why Mikhail Prokhorov must be at the lead and ensure the first steps this team takes into the Borough of Kings are taken with strong confident strides.  Those steps are taken by Owners.  Not General Managers.

Something happened over the night that has never happened before in the history of Brooklyn.  For the first time ever, snow fell and accumulated on the roof of an arena where the Borough's new professional basketball team will play starting later this year.  Unless Mikhail Prokhorov puts his rubles where his mouth is, his prediction of a championship within five years has as much a shot as the Germans did in the snow drifts at Stalingrad.

Both teams are floundering right now.  Therefore there is nothing to rave about.  But Mikhail Prokhorov brought to the area what no Net player, nor anyone else in the organization has thus far.  He brought some sizzle.  For right now, he's the only one who can bring some sizzle back until something else gives.  And by that, I don't mean the roof of Barclays Center caving in under the weight of it's first ever snow fall.

All buttoned up for Winter.

Flatbush Avenue


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