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Nothing is Lost in Translation When Mikhail Prokhorov Speaks

Nets Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov certainly has a way with the English language.

Mikhail Prokhorov

BROOKLYN, NY – It’s a shame that Mikhail Prokhorov only talks to group media settings every 10 months or so. Not because the owner of the Brooklyn Nets has to talk every time he attends a game at the Barclays Center but for the simple fact that he’s good at giving memorable comments.

Prokhorov did not disappoint in that regard during a 12-minute press conference before the Nets played their fifth home opener in his tenure. He touched on many topics but perhaps the most memorable one was when asked about the ugly departure of former coach Jason Kidd.

Prokohrov was likely stewing at the thought of Kidd trying to make a power grab but instead of issuing some generic statement, he did not hide his view of the situation.

“I think there is a nice proverb in English, don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you,” Prokhorov said. “I think we shouldn’t get mad, I think we should get even. And we’ll see it on the court.”

Prokhorov is good for at least one quip or two and the fact he speaks so little creates a certain aura around him. It’s an intriguing personality especially in this era of buttoned down media access that often turns into cliches. So when he spoke about his vow to get married if the Nets don’t win the 2015 title, he gave another quip.

“Just between you and me, I haven’t sent research for a new wife you know,” Prokhorov said. “I stay committed to the championship. By the way we have lost George Clooney (who recently got married).”

This is the same man that tweaked Jim Dolan with a billboard directly across the street from Madison Square that read the “Blueprint for Greatness”. This is the same man who made veiled references to Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy by saying this about P.J. Carlesimo taking over for Avery Johnson: “Now P.J. is the head coach and if it becomes necessary, you know who the usual suspects are.”

He’s also the same man who commented on ending trade talks for Carmelo Anthony by saying: “Maybe he sent me an e-mail, but I don’t have a computer. Maybe the carrier pigeon got lost.”

There’s nothing lost in translation through his heavy Russian accent and Prokhorov means business. He meant it when he cut short a heli-skiing trip to attend to his mediocre basketball team on Dec. 28, 2012 after firing coach Johnson.

He has meant it when he spent a record $90.57 million in luxury taxes last season after acquiring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. It turned into a team that had a $197 million payroll and one that won 44 games and lost in the second round.

There may come a time when Prokhorov decides owning an NBA team is not worth his time. Even as reports surfaced about possible sales or partnerships, the 49-year-old personable billionaire is not ceding control anytime soon.

“My position is that I will not give up control of the team,” Prokhorov said. “But you know, I am quite happy when somebody sends me a nice offer without taking my controlling interest. I think for the time being nothing is imminent. But still I think it is not bad just to listen.”

It’s also not bad to listen to Prokhorov speak, especially when so many others throughout sports have little personality. Too bad it does not happen more often because if it did you might hear gems like his reaction to losing a reported $144 million.

“It’s not a big deal,” Prokhorov said. “Because I personally compensate this money from my pocket.”

He has the deepest pockets in the league and he also makes his public appearances in media settings worth listening to. Prokhorov might reach the levels of George Steinbrenner in the 1980s tweaking Dave Winfield with the “Mr. May” nickname but showing your true feelings is something the league and sports as a whole needs more of.

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