Apparently, New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark is unaware of the timeless business adage above. The customer can really do no wrong. And who should know better about that than Yormark, who is tasked with getting people to show up to games for the potentially historically bad Nets in basketball Siberia? The answer is no one, and that is what makes this so frustrating and ridiculous.
Reportedly, Yormark was leaving his courtside seat during the second half of the Nets’ contest against the Miami Heat last night and spotted a fan wearing a brown paper bag over his head. Reasonably, he asked the fan why he was sporting the interesting fashion item. The fan responded with a sarcastic comment regarding the quality of the Nets team. In turn, Yormark engaged in a shouting match with the fan, writing it off today as a defense of the players.
On the one hand, wanting to stand up for the Nets’ players during a season of hell seems honorable. On the other hand, Yormark — a team figurehead — is not the one that should be doing the protecting. The Nets are big boys, and they don’t need the team CEO to speak out for them.
What makes it so bad is the manifest conflict of interest that Yormark has entwined himself in. All year, Yormark has been slaving away, scheming and brainstorming different ways to bring in revenue for an underperforming team. He even has some Rent-a-Net program, which allows customers to book a Net for a private appearance.
By engaging this fan, he sends the wrong message. If he wants people to show up to his games, he needs to be personable, at least. By alienating fans, he isn’t going to help the organization sell any tickets. What does it say about the team if they can’t show any compassion for the common fan (and one in a fairly pricey seat, too)? Mark Cuban, all about the fan experience, must be shaking his head right now.
If I owned the Nets, this would be grounds for Yormark’s dismissal. Unfortunately, he’s not going to really get fired. He’s too entrenched in the development of the Brooklyn/New York Nets and the establishment of the Barclays Center to be sent off. In the future, Brett, just remember that no matter the details of the scenario, that guy was right because he’s the one shoveling out the dough and paying, however indirectly, your salary.