Despite having the NBA’s highest team payroll at more than $101 million, the Brooklyn Nets rank 16th in average attendance by drawing 17,252 fans per game. As it turns out, the man dishing out those nine figures—Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov—doesn’t sound like he’ll be in the stands either.
Prokhorov has received criticism for being an "absentee owner" during his stint with the Nets, and he addressed those claims by saying the following, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
"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?" said Prokhorov, noting that he has been busy preparing for the Winter Olympics in Sochi as the president of Russia’s Biathlon Union.
"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…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."
The most surprising tidbit in the paragraph may be that Prokhorov—a man with a net worth of $13 billion, according to Forbes—doesn’t own a computer.
It's hard to blame the billionaire for not making the long trip from Russia to the Barclays Center, because this Nets team has been hard to watch this season.
On top of that, first-year head coach Jason Kidd has been a media punching bag. He reportedly berated assistant coach Lawrence Frank with an expletive-laced tirade prior to reassigning him, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, and he was fined $50,000 for intentionally spilling his drink on the court in an effort to stop play.
Prokhorov has stayed in Kidd’s corner through it all, which is finally starting to pay dividends.
“Of course at the beginning (of the season), I wasn’t jumping over the moon. But it’s a sport. It’s a procedure. And now the team is playing much better,” Prokhorov said, per Bondy.
The Nets are 7-3 in their past 10 games and have climbed into the Eastern Conference playoff picture with a 16-22 overall record.
So even though Prokhorov hasn’t been present to witness the improvements, at least he’s checking the stats.