Earlier in the day, Mourning spoke with disappointment and disgust about his first meeting with Ratner. That encounter Monday left Mourning more convinced than ever that the Nets’ principal owner cares more about relocating than winning.
“I just asked him, other than the fact that it’s an investment and you want a return, tell me the reason why you bought this team,” Mourning said.
“And, you ask anybody in here, he said, ‘To move it to Brooklyn.’ I just shook my head.
“I mean, I didn’t hear ‘to win, to win a championship.’ I didn’t hear that come out of his mouth,” he said.
Ratner addressed the Nets at their practice facility Monday before they left for Denver. Everyone was in attendance except Jason Kidd, who was off-site rehabbing his left knee.
It was the first time Ratner, who purchased the Nets for $300 million, spoke to the team as a whole. At the end of the 10-minute meeting Ratner asked if there were any questions.
Mourning, upset with the many off-season moves starting with letting Kenyon Martin go to Denver, had the only question.
Although Mourning wasn’t satisfied with Ratner’s answer, Nets president Rod Thorn said it was “innocuous,” and that Ratner said, “he wanted to win.”
Ratner spokesperson Barry Baum issued this statement: “We won’t discuss specifically what Mr. Ratner said to the team in private beyond confirming that he met with the players, he thanked them for their enormous effort and made it extremely clear he wants to win.”
Mourning said he “didn’t get that from the conversation.”
Mourning also sounded appalled that it took this long to meet Ratner, who prefers to stay behind the scenes. On opening night, Ratner donated $25,000 to Mourning’s charity. Thorn presented the check.
“Any chief investor in a franchise, in order for your players and the people who work for you to be even more dedicated and for them to work their butts off on the court, you’ve got to show some personal interest as well,” Mourning said. “This is my first time meeting him. Going through what I’ve gone through, I would just [have] expected to meet him a long time ago.”