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Monday, February 6, 2012
President Prokhorov wouldn't own Nets

By Henry Abbott

It has been an exciting aspect of NBA life that the owner of the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, is challenging Vladimir Putin for the Russian presidency. The idea of an NBA team being owned by the president of Russia is more than a little interesting for a sport working hard to globalize itself.

However, Bloomberg's Jake Rudnitsky and Ilya Arkhipov report that Prokhorov has pledged to sell just about all of his assets, and donate the proceeds to charity, should he win. In other words, if he keeps his promise, President Prokhorov would not own the Nets:
Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s third- richest man, said he’ll give $17 billion of his $18 billion fortune to charity if he defeats Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and three other candidates to win the presidency next month.

“I’ll sell everything, all my assets when I become president and donate almost all of the money to charity,” Prokhorov said during a talk show with fellow candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky that was broadcast on state-run television late.

Prokhorov, who owns the New Jersey Nets basketball team in the U.S. and stakes in Russian metals companies United Co. Rusal (486) and Polyus Gold International Ltd., said he’d need the remaining $1 billion for personal expenses after life in the Kremlin.

“I’ll need something to live on,” Prokhorov, 46, said.

Prokhorov trails mightily in the polls. However, should he keep Putin from amassing 50 percent of the vote in next month's elections, there will be a runoff election where he may have a better chance.

More importantly, can you imagine Russian charities having $17 billion to spend? That would be a phenomenon the likes of which the world has never seen. Somebody should make a movie about what that might look like.