From Russia with (lots of) Love

I just watched a great segment on 60 Minutes that profiled soon to be New Jersey Net’s owner Mikhail Prokhorov. I am going to hold off on any serious judgments, other than to say that I am very, very excited to have the 44 year old mining mogul in the league.

You can’t help but wonder if you are listening to a real life B-movie character: super tall (6’8’’), richest man in Russia, martial arts enthusiast, known carouser and party animal. Tell me he doesn’t sound ready for a role in a 1979 Bond film!

Here are some of my favorite quotations from the 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft:

On Life:

“Life, and business in particular, is a big game”

On women:

“Frankly speaking, I like women. In my heart I am still teenager. And I am very open and I don’t want to hide this.”

On single life:

“I’m not to blame. I think women, they’re making the same mistake with me all the time. The way to the man’s heart is through his stomach.”

On his incarceration for suspected promotion of prostitution (the dude brings a stable of models wherever he goes):

“It sounds strange, but it was real fun for me. It’s a good experience. I like even such challenges.”

On the French:

“The French elite is envious because they’re lagging behind in fashion, in life and in sex drive.”

Here’s how a prominent Russian business journalist described the deal that allowed Prokhorov to buy the company that made him millions:

“Yes, it was rigged. But it cannot be explained in normal economic terms to an outsider, especially an American.”

——–

As a fan of the NBA I can’t wait to have this guy around, ruffling feathers, ignoring convention, and spending big bucks. My only concern is whether he will be present enough to supply more quotations like these.

NBA commissioner David Stern, on the other hand, doesn’t exactly share my enthusiasm. When asked if he thinks Prokhorov is a man of character, Stern said, “I think he’s a man who has passed a very tight security check and nobody has come up with any reason why he shouldn’t be an NBA owner.”

The ever slippery Stern manages to say “he hasn’t killed anyone to get where he is,” without saying, “I think this billionaire lothario is a great (or even good) guy!”

I mean, at least Prokhorov hasn’t been accused of racially motivated housing discrimination.

The takeaway for Stern and the rest of the league is that the guy has money to burn, is super competitive, and means business. Add that the Nets will be moving into a brand spanking new stadium in Brooklyn—which houses the largest Russian population in America—and all signs point to a welcome resurgence for this beleaguered franchise.

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