Thu May 20 11:15am EDT
Mikhail Prokhorov fever is sweeping the nation, probably! There's a lot to love about a smirking, joking, 6-foot-8 Russian who made his first fortune by selling stonewashed jeans then decided to buy the New Jersey Nets because he had a spare $500 million.
Even though he couldn't keep the Nets from falling to the third pick in the draft, Prokhorov's first United States media tour has been pretty impressive. Whether it be pledging a championship within five seasons or declaring his intention to turn the Nets into the first truly global team in the NBA, Prokhorov has talked a pretty good game. But, as Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News mentions, we might not be talking about the Nets very much longer.
"Let me ask you some questions," Prokhorov said to a small group of reporters during a private brunch meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. "What about the name of the team? Is it okay, the Nets? Or do we have to try to find something new?
"I'm a foreigner, you know," he said. "I need your piece of advice. I can put Russian name and nobody knows what it is. I can put the name of a girlfriend and every time I change, I need to change the name of the team."
On one hand, nice zings by everyone's new favorite owner, especially the girlfriend part. Pretty funny. On the other, I don't want this to open the door for Russians to buy all of the American sport teams and change their names. Perhaps we should draft controversial legislation that will ban European billionaires from buying American sports franchises and then have NBA teams protest that legislation with awkwardly worded jerseys. That's just a totally random suggestion, though.
However, if Prokhorov is really serious about changing the Nets' name, he's going to need a hand. If you've caught any of his interviews in the past week, you know that English is not his first language, so I think it would be nice of us to help him navigate the ins and outs of effective team naming. Between these very good suggestions and those of The Baseline's Eric Freeman, Prokhorov will have a great jumping-off point if he ever renames the team.
• New Jersey Nyets: Surely this is the first time this name has ever been suggested.
• New Jersey Stonewashed Jeans: Not only does it reference Prokhorov's first success, it also shouts out the state's pants of choice.
• New Jersey Keithvanhorns: It would be nice to honor the greatest player in team history.
• Brooklyn New Jerseys: This is kind of complicated. First the Nets would have to secure their move to Brooklyn, which would take care of the first part. Then, because they would need to buy new jerseys, they would just become the New Jerseys. It might be confusing, but it would also be very literal, which helps when acquiring a second language.
• New Jersey Bobcats: It might be available and makes just as much sense in New Jersey as in North Carolina.
• New Jersey Foulkiis: No, that's not the Russian word for foul, but rather the state's official dinosaur, the Hadrosaurus foulkii. In other news, New Jersey has an official dinosaur, but not song, even though Bruce Springsteen helped establish the state in 1787. Weird.
As you can see, there are a wealth of different choices that would be excellent names for the franchise. Sure, the team might lose a little of its identity with a name change, but following a 70-loss season that might be OK. As always, your suggestions are welcomed in the comments. The big Russian needs our help.