Russian Billionaire Makes Mark Cuban Look Poor and Boring

6-foot-8 playboy has yachts, mansions, models and now, the Nets

By Greg Wilson
|  Friday, Sep 16, 2011  |  Updated 4:52 PM EDT
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NEW YORK - MAY 19: New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov addresses the media during a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on May 19, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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The newest member of the NBA's owners club is also the richest and, from first impressions, the most entertaining.

If this week's introductory tour by new New Jersey Nets owner and Russian billionaire  Mikhail Prokhorov is a sign of what's to come, he will make Dallas Mavericks' bad boy owner Mark Cuban look both boring and poor. Prokhorov, a 6-foot-8, 45-year-old bachelor with a reported net worth of $13 billion, kicked things off Wednesday by firing the team's coach, Kiki Vandeweghe, during a radio interview.

He joked about  the league's worst franchise at 12-70, saying it was "a great pleasure to be here as the new owner of the Nets, the team with the best record in the whole NBA." After a perfect comedic pause, he deadpanned, "Was I misinformed?"

He called Jay-Z, a minority stakeholder in the team, "my soulmate," and promised "I have my own secret" for luring superstar free agents LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Appearing on a popular New York sports radio show, he asked host Mike Francesa about his former partner Chris Russo, saying "Where is Mad Dog?"

The highlights came as the precious metals magnate  and 39th richest man in the world toured New York, including the Brooklyn site where the New Jersey-based team plans to move in 2012.

In summarily dumping his coach and general manager, Prokhorov said simply, His agreement expires this summer. I wish him well."

NBA owners approved the sale of the Nets to Prokorov last week. They had plenty of notice that he was not going to be boring.

Prokhorov, who spent $200 million for an 80 percent stake in the team, is known for jetsetting around the world in a private jet with a flock of gorgeous women. He owns a 200-foot yacht. He was arrested in 2007 in France and later cleared for allegedly setting up guests at his Christmas party with prostitutes.

"Frankly speaking, I like women," he told "60 Minutes" in an interview last year. "In my heart I am still teenager. And I am very open and I don't want to hide this."

He says he isn't married because he hasn't found a beautiful woman who cooks well enough to please him. But he was married briefly, at least according to lore. The story is that he once bet a buddy he would be married by age 42. As his birthday approached, he organized a $10 million party in Maldives and the rumor was that he would marry a woman only to divorce her after collecting on the wager. The rumor is one subject Prokhorov won't seem to talk about.

If nothing else, Prokhorov will take heat off of Cuban, the outspoken billionaire owner of the Mavericks known for ticking off fellow owners and drawing huge fines for criticizing referees.

"Obviously it's going to make things interesting...he's a personality, he's so competitive,"

Cuban told ESPN last month

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