NEW YORK — On Thursday, the Nets introduced the newest members of the organization. And although the day was for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov made a surprise entrance at the end, shook his players hands, and spoke with the media.
For a little less than an hour, Billy King, Jason Kidd the the three former-Celtics spoke and answered questions about the lofty expectations and new beginnings. Eventually, Prokhorov, wearing a black jacket, a white Nets t-shirt, blue jeans and black dress shoes showed up.
His white Nets t-shirt appropriately had the team's shield on the front, reminiscent of a superhero logo.
The owner talked to the media after the photo opportunities were taken care of, and was asked if he has felt that there was any backlash emanating from other NBA owners over his team's high payroll.
For what it is worth, after the Celtics trade, the Nets 2013-14 payroll is expected to be just north of $100 million—triggering an enormous $80 million luxury tax bill, as a result.
Not all teams have that kind of spending power, and there has been talk that some of the other NBA teams are jealous. Prokhorov is not concerned.
"I want to stress once again, like with the luxury tax, I will do whatever I can in order to win championship," he said.
He did point out that he is not doing anything illegal, though. "I will do whatever I can... But under the NBA rules. Please make no mistake about this," he said.
The question also comes on the heels of a report by Yahoo! Sports that says that some NBA general managers, upset that the Nets managed to sign Andrei Kirilenko for $3.18 million—a number far below his perceived market value—wanted the NBA to launch a formal investigation to ensure that there are not illegal aspects of the Nets deal with Kirilenko.
In other words, the insinuation is that since Prokhorov and Kirilenko have a pre-existing relationship and are countrymen, there may be some sort of "under the table" agreement, outside of the bounds of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement.
That, obviously, would be against the NBA's CBA and Constitution, would constitute cap circumvention, and would result in a tremendous penalty levied against the franchise.
According to the Yahoo! report, rival NBA teams were suspicious as to how Prokhorov "convinced" Kirilenko to sign with Brooklyn "on the cheap."
"I think all stereotypes, they are very hard to break and I want to thank our fans and members of the press because they have been very quick to support us," he said.
"I respect all of the NBA rules and we play by the NBA rules."
And of course, no Prokhorov appearance would be complete without him responding to a question about the New York Knicks—who certainly seemed like an afterthought during Thursday's press conference.
"I am very lucky that my new players are familiar to the New York audience," Prokhorov said. "And I think there will be great anticipation when the teams meet."
"I want to congratulate James Dolan, he is watching us for the time being."
John Paolantonio contributed to this report.