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Mikhail Prokhorov says he's not out of touch with Nets

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov speaks at a news

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov speaks at a news conference in Moscow. (June 13, 2013) Credit: AP

LONDON - Don't call Mikhail Prokhorov an absentee owner. Just because the Nets' Russian billionaire owner has attended only one game this season -- the Nov. 1 win over the Heat in the Nets' home opener -- doesn't mean he's out of touch, in his view.

In his first true chat with the media since his surprise cameo at the Nets' July news conference introducing Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, Prokhorov staunchly defended his lack of appearances at games this season.

Prokhorov also threw his support behind coach Jason Kidd and general manager Billy King, indicating he never really thought about making any drastic changes when the Nets (16-22) struggled early in the season despite having the NBA's highest payroll. But he seemed most passionate when asked if he'll be showing up more often at Barclays Center.

"Look, I'll be back to Brooklyn after Olympics,'' Prokhorov said Thursday. "I am very busy because I am president of the Russian biathlon union. So I have a lot of jobs to do during the Olympics. But after the Olympics, I of course will be at more games.

"But frankly speaking, there's a lot of criticism that I am not in Brooklyn. But I just have a question for you: Do you really think you need me sitting in the arena to see a game?

"My friends, we are living in the 21st century. And in spite of the fact I have no computer, I still have a subscription for NBA games, and for me, it's like enough to even have a look on the stats so you can understand what is going on. They send it over with carrier pigeon after each game, and of course in two weeks I get it in Moscow. So like I'm full in, I'm all in for this team, and I think it's the only way how to reach championship.''

Prokhorov fired Avery Johnson after a 14-14 start last season but felt it wasn't the prudent thing to do with Kidd.

He said he "wasn't jumping over the moon'' as the Nets got off to a 3-10 start and mentioned a conversation he had with Kidd after one of their hideous early-season defeats.

"Maybe only once I called Jason Kidd after a very bad loss,'' Prokhorov said, "so I told him a very famous Russian writer is Mikhail Bulgakov who said, 'Don't read Soviet papers before breakfast.' In other words, don't pay any attention to what they are writing about. So just keep doing your job.''

Said Kidd: "Mikhail is the best. He's got a great sense of humor.''

"He wants to win, as does everybody that's wearing a Net uniform or employed by the Nets. We all want to win. We might not have gotten off to the start that we wanted, but it's a process. The biggest thing is from our owners to our players, no one panicked and we felt that we would get better each day, and that we still have some room to grow, and get healthy and see what happens.''

Prokhorov still envisions the Nets as championship contenders "if the stars align.'' He has until next season to make good on his bold promise that the Nets will win a title within a five-year window or he'll get hitched. Is that still attainable?

"It's possible, or in this case I will have to marry,'' Prokhorov said. "For me, it's a great dilemma.''

At least he's not faced with another quandary: What to do with a first-year coach that had his share of hiccups while learning on the fly with a team built to win now.

"What is more important is that Jason Kidd is becoming more and more comfortable,'' Prokhorov said. "And what is important is he has the support of the players. And that's the only way how we can conduct together. So everything is OK because of course we can't make any excuse with injuries. And what I'm glad to see is the players stepping up in the situation. Now everything is more or less OK.''

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