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For Prokhorov, A Great First Night

Tucked inside each game program handed out on Opening Night was a one-page note from Mikhail Prokhorov that  like most of his comments spent poked fun at his Russian heritage.  He had to resist, he deadpanned, Avery Johnson's suggestion that certain players be sent to Siberia for "some deep thought in the permafrost".  But most of it was a promise that he would all he could to win, particularly for the "diehard fans" who had suffered through the recent miseries. 

He also tried to step back from previous comments promising playoffs this season.  The team, he told reporters, needed time.  But by night's end, the NBA first foreign owner was high-fiving pals, Russians, Americans and others, as they celebrated his team's first win...and something else.

One source close to Prokhorov said he had been deeply touched when just before the game fans approached him to thank him for once again giving them hope.  It was unexpected, said the source, but very much cherished.