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When Phil Jackson and Mikhail Prokhorov toyed with the idea of a joint venture

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Bruce Bennett

When the Nets were looking for a coach in May 2010, they made back channel overtures to Phil Jackson, apparently at Mikhail Prokhorov's request. Phil's response was to call Prokhorov an "interesting young man" who he'd "like to have vodka with." Jackson was still with the Lakers and in his final contract talks with the Buss family.

Jackson, asked about the reports before Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, said he "can't imagine" coaching anywhere else and dismissed the possibility of returning to the Bulls. As for the Nets, he said he found them "intriguing". Specifically, he said of their then new owner, "I’d like to have a vodka with him at some point. He seems like a very interesting young man."

Prokhorov didn't respond back then, but as NetsDaily reported two months later, he recalled the comments quite clearly. When the Russian edition of GQ asked Prokhorov about Phil Jackson, he replied, "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."

Now, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com writes about how that coy exchange could prefigure a real exchange between the two about the coaching job in Brooklyn. "So saying he was intrigued by Prokhorov does, in retrospect, seems real and not just a chance to sweat the Lakers out for the extension that would eventually come."