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Interview with Mikhail Prokhorov by Vladimir Pozner

(Excerpt)

Prokhorov: You do not quite have the correct information about the structure of the transaction. The structure of the deal is this: I provide a credit of 200 million dollars and take command, 80% [of the team] and 45% of the new arena. This is an extremely good business project connected to the entry of a closed U.S. market. Suffice it to say that not a single foreigner has ever been allowed into the holy of holies, in the bosom of the NBA. So I think it is a very important success of our country and credits what we made with the basketball club CSKA Moscow in the European arena. That is, for the last 7 years.

V. Posner: This is purely for your business?

Prokhorov: For me this is a business project, and a very interesting social project, which you can initiate and develop in our country. Here, look, the NBA is the leading league and it seeks all the best players around the world.

V. Posner: Yes.

Prokhorov: In basketball, we have no such need in hockey.

V. Posner: True, true.

Prokhorov: But I love basketball, and I would like to see it in our country, well, at least comparable to our influence in ice hockey. As a business project, I’m not putting up a single penny. Because of this investment, I am taking a loan from a western bank. I take a loan from the western bank and refinance my new partners, who, because of the financial crisis can not..

V. Pozner: How it will help the development of basketball in Russia?

Prokhorov: I'll answer you now, once on two questions. My management experience has led to believe that we have a sports but not a business technology (with basketball). It is exclusively charitable, not profit-based. And from our point of view, perhaps, that individual sports charitable approach is justified. From the point of view of the world, the world is building a business model. However, the budgets of our clubs are such that the market economy does not permit this. Therefore, in order to develop basketball, we need the necessary technology not just in the professional clubs, but as well as in student clubs. And my task is to ensure that those technologies of the NBA and American basketball, which do exist, are introduced to those training students in basketball, but also basketball for students in children's sports schools. That is such an ambitious project system but I want to try to organize it…The task that I set for myself - is the development of a powerful system to take our basketball to a new level, if you wish…

V. Posner: You know, there is in English this phrase "Winning is not everything", which translates as "win - that's not all." There was a coach Bobby Knight, a famous basketball coach in America, rather scandalously, in response to this said that "Winning is everything", that is to win is all there is and nothing else. Why do I ask you about this? Because when you have spoken of the biathlon—you are the president of the national federation, said: "For me, other than first place…it doesn’t exist." A bit like the Knight - "win - it all". This is generally in your life right? That is, not only in sports but in all, the important thing is to be the first?

Prokhorov: Well, let's say, just not all. If it’s the subject of my professional interest, or what I am doing in the public part of my life, here, of course, only first place.

V. Posner: Only the first?

Prokhorov: Only the first.