The New Jersey Nets were mired in mediocrity when an international man of mystery emerged from the shadows. Russian multibillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov came bearing two gifts: a bottomless wallet and a passion for basketball. In return for his money, he expected everybody associated with the team -- management, players, ball boys -- to commit to success . . . and achieve it within five years.
But the Nets required more than money to change their fortunes. They needed shrewd decision makers, brilliant minds, and the most physically gifted players in the world. Instead, as Prokhorov's thirst for instant gratification spiraled out of control, management turned losing into an art form, dangling perfectly good players as trade bait, kowtowing to their stars, and alienating an entire state. The fallout on the court and in the locker room produced, if not a winning team, the most interesting basketball story not yet told.
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