Irina Pavlova Rumors
Irina Pavlova, a top adviser to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and one of the highest-ranking women in professional sports, is leaving the organization next month, sources told The Vertical. Pavlova, whose official title is president of Onexim Sports and Entertainment, has served as a U.S.-based liaison for the Nets’ Russian-based ownership group since 2010.
In her role, Pavlova was looped in on all Nets-related activities, from business to basketball operations. She dealt with the NBA on significant issues and was heavily involved in the selection of the team’s new practice facility in Brooklyn. Pavlova serves on the board of directors for the Nets and Brooklyn Arena LLC, the company that runs the Barclays Center.
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.”