By Barry Janoff
July 19, 2013: The Brooklyn Nets are just like every other NBA team with regards to their immediate goal: Win an NBA championship.
But the Nets and majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, a billionaire who made his fortune in Russia, have a loftier challenge in mind: Become the league's most valuable brand not just in the U.S. but around the world.
And, en route, take over New York from the crosstown rival Knicks.
A great example of the Nets strategy was enacted Thursday during the media conference to officially welcome Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the team. The three players arrived via a major trade with the Boston Celtics. A fourth player, Russian-born Andrei Kirilenko, who also will be key to the Nets success in 2013-14, came via free agency and with the blessings of Prokorhov. He was unable to attend due to a prior commitment overseas.
Signage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was in English, Spanish and Russian. The event was also being broadcast to Russia and China, according to the team, as well as via the YES network, streamed live on the Internet and shown live on the Oculus system outside of Barclays.
The Brooklyn Nets also have developed a Web site available in Russian.
The four players already are part of the team's new marketing campaign, "Hello Brooklyn: We're In," which includes TV, radio, print, outdoor signage throughout New York and Internet.
"When I bought the team I promised to create a championship contender, a team worthy of Brooklyn," Prokhorov said at the press conference, whose new $180 million roster is the largest in the NBA. "I've done what I can. And now I think it's time for the team to [win the NBA title]."
Garnett, who has been in the NBA since 1995 (the last six with the Celtics) is featured on T-shirts that also sport his nickname, "Big Ticket." Likewise, Pierce, whose entire NBA career since 1998 was with the Celtics, gets his "The Truth" nickname on Brooklyn T-shirts. They were part of the Celtics team that won the NBA championship in 2008.
"This is a great day for Brooklyn, the organization, for basketball," Nets general manager Billy King said regarding the new players as he opened the press conference. "They are here to compete for a championship, That's our goal."
Pierce seemed hardest hit by the trade. "It's still sinking in," he said. "When I saw my Brooklyn Nets jersey in the locker room, and when I had to look for a new place to live, is when it became a reality."
Garnett opened his remarks by exclaiming, "What's up, Brooklyn!," then concurred with Pierce that leaving Boston was a difficult, but necessary move not only business wise but for the two to win another NBA title.
"It's unfortunate that we had to move, but both sides were going in different directions," said Garnett, also referring to a separate deal that saw Celtics head coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers leave to take a similar role with the Los Angeles Clippers after ten years in Boston. "In Brooklyn, you don't put a team like this together to win a series or the Eastern Conference finals. The ultimate goal is what it is. To win it all."
The Nets' quest to dethrone the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat will come under the direction of first-year head coach Jason Kidd, and will have to come at the expense of Eastern Conference rivals including the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Knicks.
"The talent level in this league is high, but now have a championship roster," said Prokhorov, who arrived late to the press event, shook hands on stage with each of the players and drew a smile and this reaction from Garnett: "He's tall!" the 6'11" Garnett said to the 6'7" Pierce regarding the 6'8" Nets majority owner.
The Nets road this season will include a game against the Atlanta Hawks in London at The O2 on Jan. 16, 2014, as part of NBA Global Games London 2014.
This will be the Nets’ third trip to London, which has included a preseason game in 2008 and two regular season games vs. the Toronto Raptors in 2011. The Nets also played two preseason games in Beijing and Guangzhou in the NBA China Games in 2010.
Garnett's Celtics jersey was the fourth best-selling NBA jersey worldwide, per the most recent figures released by the NBA. He trailed only Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and LeBron James.
Brooklyn Nets team merchandise was fourth best-selling in the U.S. this past season behind the Knicks, Heat and Los Angeles Lakers, according to the NBA.
Winning a title likely will enhance that status.
"Making sacrifices and not having an ego," said Garnett. "That is the difference between winning and losing."
Nets 2013-14 Marketing Mantra: 'Hello Brooklyn: We're All In'
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