Nets Win a Game, Try to Win PR Battle

Bag flap turns into promotional opportunity

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images

    When Mikhail Prokhorov takes over control of the Nets, the Russian oligarch will have to make some decisions about which members of the old regime deserve to stay around. Team CEO Brett Yormark should be at the top of the list of those worth another spin on the merry-go-round.

    He may have made the age-old mistake of arguing with a man wearing a bag on his head on Monday night but Yormark figured out a way to turn the incident to his advantage. On Wednesday night, the Nets offered any fan wearing a bag on his head the chance to swap it for a bag full of Nets merchandise topped with a note from Yormark that read "Thanks for letting us see your face, we hope we see it more often at Nets games."

    That's a clever, well-executed idea. The same goes for Yormark's invitation to the guy who so offended him to join him for a brown bag lunch which, for some reason, reminds us of President Obama's beer summit for reasons that aren't particularly clear given the circumstances. 

    Those circumstances are what make it hard to fall totally in love with Yormark. Learning that the bag-wearer was at the game using a free ticket provided by the team makes it easier to understand the CEO's torment -- he's not the first to react that way as Elaine Benes will tell you -- but it is still hard to justify the way he responded on a couple of levels. 

    First is the fact that he did it so publicly and drew so much attention to something that would have totally escaped notice if not for Yormark's outburst. There aren't enough people actually at Nets games these days to make something that happens at one of those games turn out to be more than an urban legend unless it gets blown wildly out of proportion. A marketing brain like Yormark's surely knows that, which makes his response a bit surprising. 

    That's not the worst part, though. The worst part was Yormark's statement following the incident which was full of puffery about respect for the team and respect for the fans. It's hard to swallow that in the face of the way Yormark and his cronies have gutted the team and used it as a vessel for Bruce Ratner's real estate dreams while the basketball operations fell apart. People have scratched their head about how a roster with the Nets' talent could be losing so often, but when you fire a seasoned coach for a novice and surround the team with cut-rate assistants and facilities it is hard to expect anything else. 

    That's not respect, although it is being a good corporate soldier. That's another reason Prokhorov would be wise to keep Yormark on the staff because you never know when the next Nets disaster will come down the pike. Brooklyn fans might even come up with things more offensive than paper bags so you'll want an experienced hand to chase them around the arena. 

    All of this nonsense overshadows the fact that the Nets actually won on Wednesday night and pushed themselves within one game of assuring they won't stand alone at the bottom of the barrel. It will take two wins in the final 11 games to avoid infamy altogether. We're eager to see how Yormark plans to celebrate that momentous moment and we'd like to see him get a chance to work for a team that's worth selling.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.