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Prokhorov Plans Profit, Global Audience, Championship for Nets

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May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Mikhail Prokhorov said the Nets will have a “profitable business platform” when the National Basketball Association team moves to Brooklyn from New Jersey in two years.

The team’s new owner held a news conference in New York today, mixing jokes with promises of future postseason success and worldwide popularity for the club. The Nets lost 70 of 82 games this season, which he described as “the best record in the whole NBA.”

“Was I misinformed?” he asked.

Prokhorov, the second-richest person in Russia with a fortune estimated by Finans magazine at $17.8 billion, said that he plans to attract a global audience and win an NBA championship within five years, while soliciting volunteers to coach the squad from the audience.

“We plan to build a championship team in a minimum of one year and a maximum of five,” he said. “And I think as soon as we move to Brooklyn, we’ll have a very good, profitable business platform.”

The first owner of an NBA team from outside North America said he was sure the team could get a star player with the third pick in this year’s draft, where the Nets landed in last night’s lottery. He noted that Hall of Fame member Michael Jordan was selected third.

Asked if he intended to make an offer for two-time Most Valuable Player LeBron James, a free agent, Prokhorov replied: “I have never heard this name.” He added that NBA rules prevented him from discussing the subject.

Prokhorov said he plans to recruit top players, without spending indiscriminately.

“You can have all the money in the world but you have to be smart enough to know how to spend it,” he said.

The 6-foot-7 owner said he wants to spend more time with Jay-Z, the 10-time Grammy winner whose 11 No. 1 albums surpassed the record held by Elvis Presley. Jay-Z also owns part of the team.

“Really, I’m looking forward to hanging out with him,” Prokhorov said.

Prokhorov described his management style as calmer than that of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and that he plans to attend about 25 percent of the Nets’ home games each year. The 45-year-old Russian made his money in gold and metals, and is investing in debt restructuring and hybrid cars.

In Russia, his wealth ranks second after steel magnate Vladimir Lisin, whose worth was estimated by Finans at $18.8 billion.

Prokhorov will own 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the team plans to relocate for the 2012 season.

“My goal also is to say to Americans that I come in peace,” he said. “I’ll do my best not to spoil the fact that I’m the first foreign owner in the NBA.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Aaron Kuriloff in New York at akuriloff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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