Russian Tycoon Buys New Jersey Nets
NBA green-lights Prokhorov's purchase of struggling franchise
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2010 8:01 AM CDT
Mikhail Prokhorov speaks at a news conference in Moscow.    (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel, File)

(Newser) – Russia's second-richest man now owns the NBA's worst-performing team. The NBA gave its seal of approval to Mikhail Prokhorov's purchase of the New Jersey Nets yesterday, making him the NBA's first owner from outside North America and the only second foreigner to own a major US sports franchise. The oligarch, with an estimated fortune of $13.4 billion, is the NBA's second-richest owner after Portland's Paul Allen, the Star-Ledger reports.

Prokhorov has pledged to spend freely to help turn around the Nets, who finished last season with a woeful 12-70 record. The tycoon—accused by congressman Bill Pascrell, a vocal opponent of the deal, of having links to organized crime—says the name recognition gained by becoming an NBA owner will help him find other investment opportunities in the US. "I want to do something else, people won’t say, ‘Who’s that?’” he tells BusinessWeek. “They’ll say, ‘That’s the owner of the Nets.’”