DURHAM, N.C. - The words "training" and "camp" took on a whole new meaning for the Nets Wednesday, all thanks to a lengthy session with the team's owner following practice.
With the players seated in a semicircle on one end of the court in a way that would've made kindergarten teachers proud, Mikhail Prokhorov showed them a variety of exercises born out of his love for mixed martial arts.
Dressed in a black Nets sweatsuit, Prokhorov enjoyed serving as the instructor, asking for volunteers to mimic his exact actions.
He went through several exercises and the level of difficulty seemed to crank up a few notches each time. Pushups while he had both feet and hands on basketballs. Bouncing a tennis ball on a plank with his left hand as he dribbled with his right. Sitting on a basketball and dribbling one in each hand simultaneously. And on and on.
"My perception was to come personally and to say hello to the players and to the coaches," Prokhorov said. "I think it's very important for a new team to have special team building and, of course, a commitment of ownership. It's a part of this game. I also wanted to share something special with my own experience with martial arts and I really will be happy if it helps them in some way."
Putting on a lengthy athletic display, Prokhorov showed he's not the prototypical billionaire. He's been a colorful character since bursting onto the scene in 2010 when he purchased a majority of the Nets, and he reiterated he fully intends to hold on to the franchise.
"I have said many times that I have no plan to sell controlling interest of the team," Prokhorov said.
Prokhorov confirmed his company, Onexim Sports and Entertainment, remains in discussions with Bruce Ratner's Forest City to purchase Ratner's shares of the franchise and Barclays Center. Ratner, who's overseeing the redevelopment of Nassau Coliseum, owns 55 percent of the Brooklyn arena and 20 percent of the Nets.
"We are in ongoing talks with Forest City," Prokhorov said. "But for the time being nothing is done."
Although the Nets trimmed payroll this season, reversing a trend of more than $100 million in salary and luxury tax, Prokhorov insists he'll spend going forward. He pointed to the Nets' open cap space in 2016-17 and made it clear the Nets will be better at this point a year from now.
"You see, I don't want us to be in the mindset of focusing on the next summer," he said. "I think we have a great opportunity to have good results this year in the East. We have a plan to search for opportunities and really I don't have to tell you guys about that. So, our task for next season is that we will surprise our doubters."
Similarly, Prokhorov hopes, to the way he surprised his team with his training skills.
"He's a very interesting guy," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "He probably should be doing that commercial that they have, "I don't normally drink beer, but when I do . . . ' He's one of those guys that's been around the world, has got varied sort of interests and it will be interesting to just get to know him better."