SBD/Issue 156/Franchises

Prokhorov's Imminent Nets Takeover Comes With Great Anticipation

Prokhorov Could Capture The Interest
Of Basketball Fans In New York

Mikhail Prokhorov is "expected to assume control" of the Nets within the next few weeks, and the transaction "may be the most anticipated ownership change in NBA history," according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. The 44-year-old Prokhorov, the second-richest man in Russia, is "relatively young, wealthy, charming, tall, athletic and adventurous, a modern-day renaissance man with an air of cold war mystique." His arrival is "inspiring hope and wonder, a timely distraction from the Nets’ catastrophic 70-loss season." Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban in an e-mail said, "If Mikhail’s personality matches his wallet and he is available to Nets fans, they will love him and come to the games in droves." But Beck notes creating interest in the franchise "may prove to be the easy part." Prokhorov must "rebuild an atrophied roster and revive a dispirited fan base, even as the Nets awkwardly straddle two cities." He understands "star power and the value of mystique," agreeing to very few interviews in order to "prolong the speculation about his plans." His public image is "undeniably cool, and surely appealing to the young athletes he will soon try to recruit." Beck notes "all of this sets Prokhorov apart from his new rival in New York," Knicks Owner James Dolan, who is "older, shorter and unathletic, with a gravelly voice and a gruff demeanor." Where Prokhorov is "light-hearted and self-effacing, Dolan is defensive and inarticulate in interviews, when he chooses to do them at all." The Knicks have not recorded a winning season in nine years and have "no definable personality," so New York's basketball loyalties are "surely up for grabs" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/27).

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