New Jersey Nets Owner Prokhorov to Challenge Putin for Russian Presidency

| by Alex Groberman

Charismatic billionaire and the NBA’s most Russian team owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced on Monday that he will challenge Vladimir Putin for presidency in next year’s presidential elections.

In an announcement -- that coincided surprisingly well with calls for change from some of Putin’s once-close allies -- the 46-year-old Prokhorov committed to action and described the choice as “the most serious decision of my life.”

Of course, this isn’t Prokhorov’s first rodeo when it comes to challenging Putin. The fascinating Russian tycoon attempted to challenge Putin’s United Russia party in this month’s parliamentary elections, to no avail. He was eventually forced to resign following an internal power struggle. Ultimately, the party finished with less than one percent of the vote.

This time around Prokhorov pledges that things will be different.

It’s also worth mentioning that the NBA likely didn’t foresee this move coming when Prokhorov initially bought the team. While Commissioner David Stern hasn’t offered a reaction yet, Prokhorov’s Nets head coach Avery Johnson did weigh in upon hearing the news.

"Congratulations to Mikhail," Johnson said, "but it still has no bearing on ownership and what's gonna be happening with us. He's still a terrific owner, and we're gonna be excited to see him when the season starts. There's no drop off in what we're gonna be doing with the Nets.

"But if we could vote, he'd have a lot of votes here in this building.”