Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — As the vision of Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov came to life with the franchise’s first regular season game at Barclays Center on Saturday night, the Russian billionaire was not shy about what Saturday meant to him as well as the team.
Prior to tip-off, Prokhorov spoke with the media.
“I think it’s a great day for the community,” he said. “When I bought the Nets, I had a vision that this is a great opportunity because at the time, it was the worst team in the league and they were looking to move to a huge market with a great upside. So really, I am lucky. Brooklyn is our home and we are part of the Brooklyn community.”
For 17 minutes on Saturday evening before the Nets began their tenure in Brooklyn with a 107-100 win over the Toronto Raptors, Prokhorov answered questions with a mixture of sly smirks, wide smiles, dry humor and hilarious one-liners.
With that mixture of smirks, smiles and humor, Prokhorov, who arrived in New York on Friday in the wake of Superstorm Sandy pounding the tri-state area, answered anything and everything thrown his way.
That included the obvious question of what would constitute a successful season with this revamped roster in a brand new building.
“A good plan is maybe conference final,” Prokhorov said.
In his typical joking matter, he also reiterated his plan to win a championship by 2015 or get married.
“I only have three years left,” Prokhorov quipped. “So maybe, I am the most devoted guy for the championship.”
Whether or not Prokhorov truly believes that the Eastern Conference Finals is a realistic goal, the bar is now set for head coach Avery Johnson, who is in the final year of his contract.
With his goal of winning sooner than later, Prokhorov opened up his wallet this past offseason. Deron Williams was re-signed for five years and $98.7 million to highlight $330 million in guaranteed money handed out to Nets during free agency.
The team is set up to be paying the luxury tax for the next three seasons, something that Prokhorov, who woke up Sunday morning as the 58th richest man on the planet, is not concerned with.
“It concerns me only to the level we can reach championship or not, that’s it,” he said. “My group is still in very good shape.”
Prokhorov estimated he would be at about 30 percent of the games in Brooklyn this season, which would be a steep increase in attendance since he was approved as a majority owner of the then-New Jersey Nets in May 2010. That number, as Prokhorov jokingly pointed out, does not include playoff games.
With Prokhorov’s plan to turn the Nets into a worldwide brand and take over the largest market on the planet, many wondered whether or not he paid any attention to the crosstown-rival Knicks’ emotional 20-point opening win over the Miami Heat on Friday night.
No, he told the media.
“I went to bed at 8 p.m. in order to be up at 4 in the morning for great workout.”
Prokhorov may not be paying much attention to the Knicks, but for sure, he’s watching the progress of his Brooklyn Nets quite closely.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA.