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Prokhorov: Nets Will Be Worth $1 Billion by 2015

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Forbes Russia
Forbes Russia

The cover of August's Forbes Russia shows a tall man in a suit holding a basketball, and asks, "Mikhail Prokhorov and American basketball: Who Will Be the Winner?"

In the article, "I told America I come in peace," Prokhorov goes over much the same ground he has in press conferences and interviews with U.S. media, but talks more about the team's financial prospects.

The Nets' owner says the team will continue to lose money in Newark but the team's move to Brooklyn, plus his ambitions to create a dynasty, will make the Nets both profitable and valuable, suggesting the team will be worth $1 billion and earn an annual profit of $20 million.

Excerpts from "I told America I came in peace":

"I hope that this asset, which I bought for $200 million, will be worth at least $1 billion in five years. We got in at the right time."

"Brooklyn is a country unto itself. Even the Americans themselves say that. It's the center of immigration. It has a unique energy to it. Tens of millions of people who now live in the US came through Brooklyn. When I've travelled around to different cities, people have come up to me and said, 'We're Brooklynites. Give us a great Nets team and we'll root for them.'"

"The structure of the deal is such that, before the move to Brooklyn, we plan to have a certain budget deficit. That's built in. But from the time we move to Brooklyn, the team becomes profitable."

In answer to the question of what the profit will be in two years:

"Around twenty milllion dollars. That's a conservative estimate."

In answer to the question of Phil Jackson having been interested in Nets coaching job:

"He said he wanted to drink vodka with me. But the problem is I don't drink vodka! (He laughs). By the way, that 's one of the stereotypes, that, if it's a Russian, there must be something screwy going on. We're going to break the stereotypes."

In answer to the question whether this project is about business or image:

"When you're talking about the business of sports, you can't leave out passion and love. That's why, in this business in particular, I need to be maximally careful, so that my passion and love for basketball don't interfere with my business reasoning. It has to do with balancing my own internal interests and here I will be very self-disciplined."