At 6-foot-8, Mikhail Prokhorov commands the attention of any room. Prokhorov is a larger than life figure in his physical stature and reputation. The 47-year-old Russian owner of the Brooklyn Nets is the 57th richest man in the world worth at an estimated $13.2 billion according to Forbes.
Before the start of a new era, Prokhorov held a press conference to discuss the past, present and future of the Brooklyn Nets.
I asked Prokhorov to put the beginning of the Brooklyn Nets into a historical context and what it means for the borough going forward.
“I think today is a great day for the community,” said Prokhorov. “When I bought the Nets I had a vision that this was a great opportunity because at that time it was the worst team in the league and they were looking to move to a huge market with a great upside. So, I’m really very lucky that now Brooklyn is our home and we are part of the Brooklyn community. I think we can do together a great story.”
Brooklyn had waited 55 years (since 1957) for a professional team to call it’s own before Prokhorov bought the Nets' franchise.
Prokhorov has been a visionary with the ability to make his dreams become a reality throughout his life. However, in April, his vision for the start of the Brooklyn era was cloudy at best.
Deron Williams and the Nets wrapped up a fifth consecutive losing season with no guarantee Williams re-sign to make the move to Brooklyn with the franchise.
Prokhorov spoke about his meetings with general manager Billy King and various Barclays Center representatives during that time.
“When we met in April, maybe I was the only one who was like very optimistic about what was going on,” said Prokhorov. “So, (now) we have the best arena in the NBA and we have a competitive team. It’s absolutely a new team with a great upside and it’s very simple, let (the) men play, that’s it.”
I asked Prokhorov why he felt confident to invest in Deron Williams, as a businessman and an owner, to be the face of the Brooklyn Nets franchise on the court and marketing centerpiece globally.
“I think he’s the best point guard in the league and he’s really a leader,” said Prokhorov. “Of course, as we know, superstars are driving the brands pushing people to love them and the game.”
As the Brooklyn era begins with Williams as the floor general, Prokhorov has high expectations for the Nets this season.
“You know (long pause), a good plan, it’s maybe conference finals,” said Prokhorov.
Prokhorov proceeded to make the entire media contingent burst into laughter when asked how long it will take Brooklyn to win the championship.
“I have only three years left because I said that if not, I would get married,” said Prokhorov. “So maybe I am the most devoted guy for the championship now (laughs).”
While Prokhorov’s vision is off to a great start, he acknowledged that there is more work to be done to fulfill it entirely.
“It’s not yet (realized),” said Prokhorov. “We are waiting for the ring.”