In a recent interview (via The Nets Daily) with "Good Day New York," the gaudy Russian billionaire was asked to comment on whether the Nets were "ready" to take on the Knicks? The fair and even-keeled inquiry was met with typical Prokhorov moxie:
"Ah, oh, Knicks. Yes, I've heard about this second team in New York."
Prokhorov then tried to make a more diplomatic assessment, but even that turned into another polarizing take:
"I think we're getting to where we will have an epic rivalry. It will be great for the fans, for the basketball. I think really, the coming of the arena and team to Brooklyn, we can finally put New York on the map. It's about time."
The statement is hogwash.
Granted that the Knicks haven't won a title since 1973, they have contributed a rich assortment of NBA hall of fame players and storied seasons to this country's basketball history.
It wasn't too long ago that former Knicks' center, Patrick Ewing, was a chief representative of the NBA. Ewing was inducted into the NBA hall of fame in 2008, and was a member of the hallowed 1992 NBA Dream Team.
And while the Knicks were mired with a decade long of losing and scandal in the 2000s, any team that currently has Carmelo Anthony as its star player is very much "on the map," be it as a highlight reel spot or a legitimate NBA contender.
The fact that Prokhorov is a business owner, as opposed to a player, doesn't mean his salvos against the Knicks won't have an effect on New York basketball.
A few decades ago, sports businessmen were men behind the scenes. Their positions were necessary, functional devices. Nothing more.
However, as the sport industry's economies of scale continues to rapidly expand, businessmen today are treated like rock stars.
Sports executives' decisions and lifestyles are highlighted as essential parts of professional sports culture, and as a result, their soundbites are given more credence.
Which is to say that Mikhail Prokhorov's persona is a sizable part of the Brooklyn Nets image. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, unless you simply want to watch sports without all the attendant noise.
The Nets are comprised of a quiet assortment of players and a coach who insists that his team "looks good on paper," but isn't ready to win an NBA championship just yet.
From an "image is everything" perspective, the Nets can use an owner to inject a little bit of swagger into the young franchise. After all, Brooklyn's reputation—idyllic, organic food obsessed, and baby stroller saturated neighborhoods aside—is still as a gritty, hard scrabble borough.
Of course, it goes without saying that the more polarization between the Knicks and Nets, the more merchandise sales for both teams.
Still, as with most trash talk situations, the primary beneficiary of Prokhorov's latest salvo is its target, the New York Knicks.
Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is one of those players who takes his talents for granted,unless it is being challenged.
To have Prokhorov tell Anthony that the Brooklyn Nets will put New York "on the map" could incite the mercurial Knicks forward to prove that come April, the Knicks are clearly the superior of the two New York based teams.
Which, according to Prokhorov, should be fine.
If both the Knicks and the Nets become legitimate threats to win the Larry O'Brien trophy in June, it would do much to put New York on a more prominent position in the NBA.
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