Irina Pavlova Rumors
The Brooklyn Nets will begin formally interviewing candidates for their general manager vacancy on Monday, sources told ESPN.com. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov will be in attendance, as will the other members of the team’s GM search committee: Nets chairman of the board of directors Dmitry Razumov, trusted Russian basketball confidant Sergey Kushchenko, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment Brett Yormark and president of ONEXIM Sports & Entertainment Irina Pavlova.
All indications are the Nets, with a search committee including Board of Directors chairman Dmitry Razumov, board member Sergey Kushchenko, CEO Brett Yormark and Irina Pavlova, president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment, want candidates with extensive NBA experience. Calipari’s first tenure with the Nets ended disastrously, and he has tweeted out his intentions to remain at Kentucky. As one NBA type said, “The longer the search goes, the more Calipari becomes an option.”
There is Brett Yormark, the Nets’ CEO, in charge of filling Barclays Center on a nightly basis, and who has long coveted Kentucky’s John Calipari to be coach in what would become a second tour of duty with the franchise. There is Dmitry Razumov, the chairman of the team’s Board of Directors, Prokhorov’s right-hand man for more than a decade, and who was the driving force behind the Nets’ pursuit and signing of Jason Kidd as coach in 2014 despite Kidd’s literally having just retired as a player days before. There is Irina Pavlova, the president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the Nets’ parent company, who is Prokhorov’s proxy at Board of Governors meetings (“she is at every one and is as engaged as anyone,” a witness says). Pavlova has never expressed any interest in being involved in running the basketball side of the operation, but will surely have some say in who does.
Those who have spoken to the Nets recently believe the search for replacements will be run by Dmitry Razumov, Prokhorov’s right hand man, and Irina Pavlova, who runs the U.S. wing of Prokhorov’s investment vehicle. It was Razumov, for example, that was the driving force in hiring Jason Kidd in 2013.
Pavlova calls herself a fatalist, only half-joking or maybe not at all. The probable outcome is improbability; change is what she knows. “Whenever I interviewed for jobs,” she tells me, “they asked me, how do I deal with change? I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Look where I am from!’” Pavlova was actually born in New York. Her father worked as a Soviet translator at the United Nations, only a mile or so from where she lives now. She moved to Moscow when she was still a baby. Then, when Pavlova was 10, after a brief stint in Geneva, her family came to the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where her father was a diplomat at the Soviet embassy. It was the early ’80s, the height of the Cold War. She had glimpses of American life from trips to the pool or television, which taught her perfectly idiomatic English. She was, she says, a little like the woman in the movie Splash, the mermaid who becomes human and learns English from watching television. “She just speaks commercials. I was kind of like that. I spoke commercials.”
As for herself, she likes being down on the court. For most home games, she’ll sit right by the scorer’s table, where she can hear the yelling on the court, can feel the vibrations of the floor. She likes the fluidity, the physicality, the incredible energy, the competitiveness; she calls herself one of the Nets’ biggest fans. She bounces and groans and screams until she’s hoarse; she says Brookie Brookie Brookie under her breath when Brook Lopez has the ball in the post; she worries over KG’s moods. For Halloween, three days earlier, she dressed up as a Brooklynette.
Everything was new. Not only did Pavlova have to try to master the sports business, the entertainment business, the real estate business — and to figure out how to translate the Russian side to the Americans and the American side to the Russians — she also had to navigate the strange, insular, sui generis world of the NBA. She had to learn merchandising rules, TV rights, the tense dynamics between small-market teams and big ones. At one of her first Board of Governors meetings, the subject was revenue sharing, which surprised her. “The first postulate of Communism is, ‘From everyone according to their abilities and to everyone according to their needs.’ I grew up with this,” she told the room full of powerful and wealthy men. She laughs at the memory. “I remember David Stern saying, like, ‘Really? How is it working?’” She shook her head. “You think you’re in this birthplace of capitalism, and you end up being the biggest capitalist in the room.”