Posted by Sean Doyle, March 7, 2011.
"Dont rely on chance..."
- Old Russian Proverb.
On May 18th of last year, the New Jersey Nets entered the NBA draft lottery with a 25% chance of winning the top pick. This percentage was tops amongst the 14 teams participating in this annual "losers" lottery. After suffering through a nightmarish 12-70 record in the '09-10 regular season many felt the Nets were destined (and deserving) to win the lottery and it's golden ticket, Kentucky's John Wall. Unhappily though, the dark clouds which have long followed this luckless organization were encircling the studio that evening. The Washington Wizards, with barely a 10% chance of victory, won the draft lottery. In that instant, the fate of many organizations, players, and cities was forever changed. And none more so than the New Jersey Nets. But what if the balls had bounced differently? What if Prokhorov and Jay-Z had won the day? I contend that getting John Wall may have set the stage for something quite special for those hard luck Nets. So here's my timeline for an alternative history...
May 18, 2010.
Mikhail Prokhorov could barely contain his glee! The rangy Ruskie, not known for his outward displays of emotion, was beaming. He waved his cyclopean fists in the air, flopping about as he fought off an eager grin. "Ves! Vess!!!" he shouted, his Russian crushing his English. The Nets had won the NBA draft lottery! Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver announced this and then fleetly exited stage right leaving Mr. Prokhorov in all his inelegant glory. It was another lucky step for the towering tycoon in a lifetime marked by them. Offstage, Jay-Z had a laugh about his partner's impropriety. Said Jay to a friend, "I've never even seen him smile before..."
June 9, 2010.
ESPN's Chris Broussard is reporting that John Calipari has agreed to a five year $55 million dollar deal to become the Head Coach/ GM of the New Jersey Nets. This will likely reunite Calipari with John Wall whom the Nets are all but guaranteed to select with the first pick in the NBA Draft later this month. Many insiders feel that Calipari is being offered the job because he is close with LeBron James. William Wesley, otherwise known as "Worldwide Wes," is telling insiders that this hiring will go a long way towards "swaying the King come signing day."
June 24, 2010.
"And with the first pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the New Jersey Nets select John Wall from the University of Kentucky!"
July 1, 2010.
The Nets contingent arrives at the LRMR office in Cleveland. Amongst those repping the Nets are Majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, minority owner Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce, new Head Coach/GM John Calipari, and #1 draft pick John Wall. "It is certainly a star studded group to say the least,"said an anonymous source.
Prokhorov's pitch goes something like this: I have heard the rumors that you are leaning towards signing with Miami. Look, New York is the number one media and sports market in the country with a greater urban population of 18.2 million people compared with only 1.1 million in the greater urban population of Miami. We are 18x bigger than Miami and at least a 100x more important to the global economy! Miami is a small and weak sports market. I am the wealthiest NBA owner with a net worth of over $20 billion dollars. If you truly aspire to be a billionaire it will only happen in New York and only through me, and I will make it happen. We have by far the best core of young talent...Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, and John Wall, and tons of draft picks and cap space going out for many, many years. We have your favorite Head Coach in John Calipari, a proven winner. We have Jay-Z, who is the biggest star in music and his wife, Beyonce, who together know everybody in Entertainment and can get a thousand projects launched for you. We have the cap space this year to add you and Chris Bosh. This would mean a starting five of Lopez (C), Bosh (PF), LeBron (SF), Devin Harris (SG), John Wall (PG). An all-star at every spot and in my opinion the best starting five in the game. Miami does have Dwayne Wade but nothing else. Would Miami trade Wade for Lopez, Harris, and Wall? Of course they would. In a New York minute! Three stars for one superstar, you make that trade a hundred times out of a hundred! Oh, and by the way we are opening a brand new state of the art Arena that will be the very best in the game in the hippest part (Brooklyn) of the greatest city in the history of the Earth. To me LeBron, this is the easiest decision you will ever have to make.
July 7, 2010.
Chris Bosh announces he has signed a max contract with the New Jersey Nets. Nets point guard John Wall leaves B.E.S.T and signs an exclusive deal with LRMR, LeBron's marketing company. The speculation begins!!
July 8, 2010.
LeBron informs Cavs owner Dan Gilbert of his intention to sign with the Nets in a heartfelt tear-filled phone call. This news leaks to the press creating an absolute frenzy. When LeBron informs Prokhorov of his original intention to announce the signing on a primetime TV special thus breaking the hearts of his fellow native Clevelanders and ruining his brand in the process, the sturdy Russian puts the kibosh on that dippy mess. "That's the stupidiest fucking thing I've ever heard," remarked Prokhorov, adding "remember what Buffet said...'It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." Instead he instructs LeBron to call Gilbert and do this the "honorable way."
July 9, 2010.
9 p.m. Eastern: LeBron gives a subdued interview with Jim Grey at his home in Cleveland discussing his decision to sign with the Nets. Also there are former teammates Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao. "I've invited Mo and Andy here because they are family and I care about them. I wanted to do this the right way. I love Cleveland, and I love it's people. But the opportunities in New York with this growing organization are just too great. I will always cherish my seven years here and my friendship with Dan Gilbert," remarked a notably somber LeBron James. The press is surprisingly positive for LeBron with most national sportswriters (save for Cleveland) agreeing with his decision and with the way he conducted himself. LeBron's Q Score, already the highest in history, actually grows by 6%.
October 26, 2010.
Opening night in the NBA. The Nets beat the Celtics 107-99 behind a 33 point 7 rebound 9 assist 2 steal performance by LeBron James. Rookie John Wall debuts with 14 points and five assists. Bosh chips in with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Head Coach John Calipari announces after the game, "this is the start of something really special."
To be continued...