Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mikhail Prokhorov Still Eyeing a Title

Photo via Getty Images
The Brooklyn Nets' slow start has not stopped majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov from setting his eye on an NBA championship.

Though he's only showed up at two games this season, it's hard to deny that Prokhorov is dedicated to this team's success. He's shelling out $190 million this season alone in player salary and luxury tax – that's the most an NBA owner will have ever put down in history.

He's endured some criticism this season. The fiery multi-billionaire has taken some flack for not showing up at games as often as he has traditionally, but he vehemently defended allegations that he is an absentee owner before the Nets' impressive win over the Atlanta Hawks in London:
Perhaps being president of the Russian Biathlon Union, and the fact that the Winter Olympics take place in his country in just a few weeks, has kept him a little busy.

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post reports that, before Thursday's win in London, he remained committed to his goal of winning a championship:

“Our goal, we only have one goal: the championship,” he said. “So, I am very committed, and I will do my best in order to reach this. I know there are a lot of rumors, a lot of discussions and that’s good for the team, and I think you can criticize me as much as you care."

It is certainly an optimistic goal, but perhaps not entirely unrealistic. The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers have the top two Eastern Conference playoff seeds locked up, but it very well within the realm of possibility for Brooklyn to grab the third spot. The Nets are only four games behind the Toronto Raptors for the third seed and the teams ahead of them right now – the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, Hawks and Raptors – seem to be trending down rather than up.

The toughest teams to nudge would be Chicago and Toronto – Chicago because of Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the team's refusal to tank, and Toronto because they are, all of a sudden, playing smart, successful, sustainable basketball since the Rudy Gay trade. But Washington and Atlanta could be pushovers. The Wizards are one of the worst-coached teams in the league and Atlanta lacks almost all interior presence with Al Horford done for the year.

We all know this team was built for the playoffs. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and even Jason Terry were all brought in not because they can still dominate through 82 games (they can't), but because of their championship caliber and histories of postseason success. The Nets might just become the scariest team in the East in April – but don't take my word for it, take Prokhorov's.

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