It’s a very New York media thing to do: Throw a softball right over the heart of the plate, one that will stir up some headlines, and hope the interviewee decides to take a swing at it.
Mark Cuban swung at one over the weekend — and in the process took another swing at Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov in the process.
Prokhorov has taken some heat in Brooklyn for not being around more. When things go poorly — and despite the recent win streak the Nets have not lived up to their lofty expectations this season — there is a lot of blame to go around and the “absentee” owner has taken some of that fire.
So Cuban — about as hands-on an owner as the league has — took the swing when, as reported in the Star-Ledger, he was asked if you can be an effective owner from 5,000 miles away.
The Dallas owner replied, flatly, “Absolutely not….
“Again, hypothetically speaking – and this only applies to individuals 6-5 and under – you can’t,” Cuban said, at a tempo the orchestra conductor would call accelerando. “That’s why I sit so close (to the floor): It’s like trying to run a company and not being able to go to the sales meetings. Not being able to go to the customer service or support meetings.
“You know, the reason why you’re starting to see more and more owners get closer and closer (is because) culture is important, attitude is important, communication is important . . ..”
“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…. “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.”
Prokhorov is treating the Nets as most CEOs would treat most of their empire — he’s put good people that he entrusts in charge of the business and while he follows it closely he gives his people room to do their thing. That can work very well — do you see the Spurs’ owners injecting themselves into the story very often — but when it doesn’t the owner needs to step in. Prokhorov has yet to step in the way some fans wanted, but things have started to turn around in Brooklyn so he may not need to.
As fans, who tend to wear our passion on our sleeve, we relate better to owners such as Cuban, ones who show that same love of the team. Ones who will yell at the officials on the court and poke fun at their rivals. We want our owner to be that guy.
But it’s not the only way to win.