In cover story of Billionaire edition, Forbes profiles Prokhorov and his "passion project," the Nets

Mikhail Prokhorov via Facebook

Mikhail Prokhorov graces the cover of Forbes billionaire edition, the one that ranks the richest people on earth. In this year's list, Prokhorov ranks 69th, down from 58th, but still worth $13 billion ... at least.

Inside, Prokhorov is the main billionaire profiled and why not. He remains the most interesting man in the world. This profile is more about how he is moving from billionaire to politician and hopefully, for him, the presidency of Russia.

The profile opens with Prokhorov getting ready for the Nets-Bulls game last month at Barclays Center. He's staying at his usual New York digs, the 52nd-floor penthouse suite at the top of the Four Seasons hotel in midtown Manhattan, which goes for $35,000 a night. It has nine rooms.

He calls the Nets "a passion project"–more of a hobby than a serious preoccupation. "I have handed off all of my active business assets to my partners to manage," says Prokhorov, "so that 100% of my time is devoted to politics."

It's not much of a surprise to those inside the Nets. His No. 2, Dmitry Razumov, handles basketball operations, signing off on trades and signings and liases with stars like Deron Willliams. Chris Charlier, a French banker and his No. 3, handles the business side as chairman of the Nets while Irina Pavlova as president of ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment, is his New York presence and works with Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark on issues like the arena. They are the working stiffs who sit courtside while Prokhorov reigns in his his double suite.

What do his Nets partners think of his potential as president?

"I don’t know the politics in Russia," Ratner tells Forbes. "But Mikhail has tremendous leadership skills. He’s very smart, has a sense of humor and he’s not afraid to make decisions–like Michael Bloomberg." Jerry Stackhouse sees it similarly, voicing respect for a person he sees as determined to make whatever changes are necessary, including a recent coaching replacement, to "get it right." "He’s an owner that’s not concerned about anything but building a winner, building a champion."

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