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He's Got a Billion of Them

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NEW YORK - MAY 19:  New Jersey Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov addresses the media during a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on May 19, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 19: New Jersey Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov addresses the media during a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on May 19, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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One liners, that is.

When asked about the incongruity of a former Soviet citizen owning an NBA team, he deadpanned, "I say to America: I come in peace". Would he meet with Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) to discuss charges he may have broken sanctions in Zimbabwe?  No, but he will offer him Nets tickets, admitting the team needs as many fans as it can get. How about working out with his team? No, because it would be a "waste of time for them."  And when asked about specific plans to change the Nets' image, he told a reporter, "I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you." He and Jay-Z?  They're "soulmates" because of their "conservative social life". At a Gracie Mansion breakfast, he said he had offered Mayor Bloomberg the head coaching job. "I pay pretty much".

Perhaps his best: "For me, it is a great pleasure to be here as the new owner of the Nets, the team with the best record in the whole NBA" ...wait for it... "Was I misinformed?"

Forty five minutes of one-liners, delivered deftly to a packed house of reporters from New York, Moscow and even Beijing ("We will have Yi for one more year"). But amidst the charm and smirks, there was a very shrewd businessman who understands the challenge and seemed to have a full grasp of what he's getting into. Yes, he asked reporters if they had any ideas about a name change, but only in response to a question.  Later in his interview with Mike Francesa, he backed away from the idea.