- Ric Bucher, NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer
Mikhail Prokhorov wasted little time.
"We will turn Knicks fans into Nets fans," the New Jersey Nets' new owner declared at his introductory press conference on May 19, 2010.
A little over a month later, Prokhorov's visage loomed large at Eighth Avenue and 34th Street in Manhattan, just around the way from Madison Square Garden. A giant 225-foot mural of him and Nets minority owner Jay-Z -- with the message, "The blueprint for greatness" -- went up just in time for the most anticipated free-agency period in NBA history. Both the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks entered free agency with cap space for multiple stars and were granted a seat across the table from LeBron James.
Shots fired. These were bold moves. And the public perception of the Knicks at the time, a team still mending the wounds of the Isiah Thomas era, a team that hadn't had a winning season in a decade, wasn't exactly positive -- which made this all the more intriguing.
Could this Russian billionaire follow through on all the early bravado, score big and perhaps steal a little of the spotlight from the reeling Knicks?
Fast-forward a year later. And that answer is, well, no. At least not yet.
7dEthan Sherwood Strauss