I believe in Mikhail Prokhorov. I was worried about a possible language barrier, yet this ended up being the most intriguing sports radio interview that I have ever listened to.
Never mind that he is ten times richer than Mark Cuban, he is ten times cooler and ten times more likely to impact change in the game – and I really value what Mark Cuban has done for American sports in the last decade. As documented on 60 Minutes, there may have been some amount of luck in Prokhorov’s riches, but he is clearly a tremendous business mind, who is capable of leading while staying mysterious and being clever without being too tricky or putting anyone on edge. He’s brash and bold, yet stays cool. The 45 year-old Russian billionaire/renaissance man/playboy clearly knows what he wants – and is good at getting it.
When it comes to his relevance to us in American sports, what Prokhorov wants is a dynasty – not a spot in the playoffs, not a championship, but a dynasty. How is he going to do it? The “element of surprise.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it’s enough to get me on board. Not only do I believe that he is going to find a way to make the Nets relevant, I believe he already has.
Mikhail Prokhorov joined Mike Francesa on WFAN in New York City to discuss winning NBA Championships, buying the Nets, when the Nets will move to Brooklyn, on the difference between the NBA and Europe, recruiting free agents, his status as a playboy, his basketball talents, and on his experience at the NBA Lottery.
On when the Nets will win an NBA Championship:
“Minimum one year. Maximum five. We have everything at our disposal. We have a very good backbone on management side. And we are considering several outstanding players. And we have the element of surprise from Russia… The goal we need to build a dynasty team. That’s top goal. Dynasty is next step… First step, we need to win a championship. Second step is dynasty.”
On why he is interested in owning the Nets:
“In Russia, I was the owner of the best basketball club in Europe. It’s not business there. It’s charity. I sold a company two years ago and this basketball club was a property of this company. I miss it a lot, basketball. My dream was to be among the members of a basketball family. I am really ecstatic over the fact that I am the owner of a new team… I live in Moscow. It’s a big great city. I want to have a team in the great metropolitan New York. I made my first attempt to by the Knicks… Half a year later, my friend made me a call saying about opportunity about the Nets. Saying about an opportunity to buy the team. And they were move to Brooklyn. And we pulled it off… It’s not an obstacle. It’s an opportunity. I like competition. I think New York City is big enough for two teams. It will be a great value for all the fans.”
On when the Nets will be in Brooklyn:
“26 months from this date.”
On the difference between the NBA and basketball in Europe:
“NBA level is two head higher than European basketball. For me it’s a really great opportunity. I am really lucky. I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but I am very optimistic. I am very sure that next year we have a great team.”
On LeBron James (and recruiting other free agents):
“I never heard this name… On this stage, I plan to be very active and I want to meet with free agents personally starting on the first of July. We have a great chance to be the first global team in the NBA… But it never comes down to one player. It’s more complicated.”
On his experience at the NBA Draft Lottery:
“It was real fun. I was fired up. What is more important, I was let to see Larry Bird. When I was a teenager, I used to love watching him back to Russia. It was my first experience with the NBA game… It was a great experience. It’s only the beginning. By the way, a few years ago, a player was drafted third. His name was Michael Jordan.”
On if he would consider himself an international playboy:
“It’s very difficult to say. My life affairs is just between my office and gym. Nothing in between. Though I don’t hide the fact that I love women.”
And on his own basketball ability:
“I was not bad, but not as great as these free agents coming. In Russia, unfortunately, basketball is not very popular compared with soccer and ice hockey. But, I used to play in school and in university for the amateur basketball league… Maybe I was not so good I feel. It was enough level to be advanced amateur.”