Behind the curtain: 2010
The biggest difference between the Brooklyn Nets now as opposed to the New Jersey Nets in 2010 is that there is a stable, respectable front office in place.
With Rod Thorn leaving and key positions without any names attached to the jobs, the Nets were the biggest question mark going into free agency.
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The big problem was that Thorn, a legendary front office figure in NBA circles, was only there as a placeholder, even with whatever prestige he had left over from the back-to-back Finals appearances and the Jason Kidd era.
With a team stuck in the mud and no real sense of direction, the only attraction left was the ownership of the team.
In the same Rusillo interview, Bobby Marks, a veteran of the Nets front office, said that the biggest pulls for big-name free agents were Jay-Z and new owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
Jay-Z’s stature as a self-made businessman (or business, man) has made him an transcendental icon for success.
Prokhorov, on the other hand was a newly arrived Russian oligarch who very few people knew about and promised a championship in five years of purchasing a majority stake in the team.
According to Marks:
"“The sell was can you be the next David Beckham. You know, that international, billion-dollar athlete.”"
Jay-Z and Prokhorov were the right people to sell that point, but on paper it seemed there was no way to achieve that with the way the team was constructed.
In addition, their recruits had the chance to become the big name in the world’s biggest market. Who wouldn’t want to be the face of an all-but-new franchise? The problem was that the team wasn’t going to move for another two years.
The team was set to play in Newark’s Prudential Center before moving across state lines.
The 2010 offseason was a perfect storm of disaster. It was also a great miscalculation of value. There was so much focus on the future that the present was mismanaged to the point other teams passed them the Nets when it came to building a contender.
To use an analogy: it’s like peeking down the street to see if it is safe to cross, but not realizing the light changed and those around you have already started walking.