Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is photographed at his home on February 18, 2009 in Moscow, Russia.
Are you ready for Mikhail Prokhorov, New York?
The Russian billionaire's bid for the Nets has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors, which means that things are about to get very, very interesting for the team with the worst record in the league last season.
Not only are they moving to Brooklyn and not only do they have a very good chance at landing the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, they have an owner who could well become an heir to George Steinbrenner.
"It is my pleasure and honor to be joining the ranks of NBA team owners," Prokhorov said in a statement. "My thanks to David Stern, the NBA, the Nets organization, Bruce Ratner, and the other team owners who have given me their support. Today's vote will give the NBA a greater global reach and bring a multitude of new fans to the game of basketball. For those who are already fans of the Nets and the NBA, I intend to give you plenty to cheer about."
He's done it with basketball teams in Russia, with the Russian biathalon program and you shouldn't expect the NBA's salary cap to get in the way of his success on our shores. They're going to have a sparkling new arena to call home and Prokhorov will likely pour money into the team's training facilities and operations in a way that no previous Nets owner has ever done before. Assuming players like Brook Lopez, Chris Douglas-Roberts and, fingers crossed, John Wall make good on their promise, that makes for a pretty appealing package to sell to players looking for a new home.
What's more, Prokhorov is a young, fun-loving owner that can relate to players in a very different way than most of the tycoons who buy their way into the sports world. He hangs on yachts, fills ski chalets with gorgeous women (and gets arrested for it, true) and, generally, lives life the same way that basketball stars live life. That's a pretty nice package to offer, one that could actually wind up making the Nets exciting.
It might not happen fast enough to get LeBron James -- there are still a couple of years in Newark to contend with -- but it is going to happen and it is going to happen quickly.