Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine was on Don Imus's "Imus in the Morning" radio program this morning. Here's what he said about Prokhorov.
Imus and Taibbi discussed a number of sports-related topics, so they didn't spend too much time on Prokhorov, but here's what I recall from this morning.
- Taibbi lived in Russia for ten years and was there when Prokhorov got his money. So he says he's privy to the Russian perspective on Prokhorov.
- Taibbi called Prokhorov "a gangster" (not in a flattering way, mind you) -- that he was a member of a small group of investors who rigged the system to accumulate their wealth.
- Prokhorov basically illegitamely acquired a metal company. To this day, the factory pollutes the area. In fact, not a single tree grows within a 30-mile radius of the plant. When it snows, the snow is yellow or black rather than white due to the sulfuric exhaust pollution given off by the plant.
- Russians view Prokhorov as a symbol of that decrepit time-period in Russia where gangsters ran wild and corrupted the system to make their billions. In contrast, for some reason, Prokhorov's viewed as a hero here in America, because he's tall and media savvy. (Again, this is my recollection of Taibbi's words).
- Imus asked Taibbi, if Prokhorov is so bad, didn't David Stern do a background check? Taibbi said the NBA gave Prokhorov a clean bill of health, implying that Stern and co. are all too willing to turn a blind eye to injustices back home in Russia if it helps them make inroads over there with their own NBA product.
- Prokhorov is probably in a win-now mode with regard to the Nets, because Russian oligarchs don't like to wait around for results. They want results now, not later.
- Prokhorov struck out on the LeBron sweepstakes and instead got guys like Anthony Morrow (he cited Morrow), but "the Nets are still miles away from competing."
The topic then turned to football. The impression I was left with by Taibbi is that Prokhorov is a lucky opportunist at best, a sleazy industrialist at worst who's image here in America has been carefully crafted and calibrated via the media.