Mikhail Prokhorov, left, Russian billionaire and owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, and Bruce Ratner, developer of the Barclays Center arena, speak during a news conference on Tuesday. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

His team is 21-37 and currently nine games out of the final playoff spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Last month, Prokhorov lost to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in a landslide election. Then the Nets failed to execute a trade for All-Star center Dwight Howard at the dealine.

It remains to be seen whether Prokhorov can hold onto New Jersey’s All-Star point guard Deron Williams when the team moves to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season. But if he can’t, the Russian business tycoon has vowed he won’t go down without a fight.

In a Tuesday media session at the team’s new arena, Barclays Center, Prokhorov did not pull punches... er... kicks, as CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger reported via Twitter.

Prokhorov on D-Will: “He wants to win, and I want to win maybe even more.”

— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) April 10, 2012

Prokhorov on Mark Cuban competing for D-Will: “Let the best man win. If he wins, I will crush him in kickboxing throwdown.” (!!)

— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) April 10, 2012

Then, after his roundhouse kick knocks out Cuban, will Prokhorov tower over him and bellow “if he dies, he dies?”

The question to Prokhorov that triggered the response likely dealt with Nets coach Avery Johnson labeling Cuban — his former employer — “a threat” to nab Williams when he hits free agency this summer. Williams also called the Prudential Center in Dallas, “probably my favorite (arena) to play in.”

I, for one, would love to see the 6-foot-8 Prokhorov step into the ring against the man who shoved WWE’s Eric Bischoff out of the ring at Survivor Series (and then got knocked out by Randy Orton). A battle of the billionaires? Let’s do it.

In all seriousness, the Nets know the importance of retaining their marquee player for their first season as the Brooklyn Nets. Prokhorov said he met with Williams on Monday, and that they had “a very good discussion.”

As for Prokhorov’s sales pitch to Williams? “Please wait for the summer,” he said. “I’ll tell you all the details. For the time being, it’s top secret for us.”


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