SBD/Issue 174/Franchises

Russian Irina Pavlova Set To Oversee Nets' Move To Brooklyn

Nets Will Not Replace GM Vandeweghe (r);
Thorn Will Take On Both President & GM Roles

Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov has named Onexim Sports & Entertainment President Irina Pavlova to "head the company overseeing the NBA team's move from New Jersey to Brooklyn," according to Rich Calder of the N.Y. POST. Pavlova, the "daughter of a Russian diplomat," will be Prokhorov's "local representative, opening an office in New York and working with the team's front office 'to ensure they have everything they need to build a championship team.'" Prokhorov plans to "keep living in Moscow, so Pavlova will work on his behalf" with Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO and former Nets Owner Bruce Ratner on the Barclays Center project and "potentially on the rest of the Atlantic Yards project" (N.Y. POST, 5/21). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Julian Garcia reports the Nets "will not hire a replacement" for GM Kiki Vandeweghe, as Nets President Rod Thorn "will take on both roles." Thorn: "We're going to combine the two positions, president and GM. So I'm going to do both of them." Thorn "should have no problem serving as both president and GM," as he "has routinely negotiated trades and handled other duties that normally fall on the GM" since being hired as president in '00 (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/21). Thorn: "At some point in time -- as Mr. Prokhorov has said before -- someone will come here to learn the NBA and be in some position to help. Remember, he wants to enhance Russian basketball, that's partly why he bought the team. I'm sure we will soon have several people in my bailiwick to help achieve that" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/21).

KNICKS NOT WORRIED: In N.Y., Marc Berman writes Knicks Owner James Dolan "doesn't seem too afraid" of Prokhorov stealing Knicks fans. MSG Senior VP/Corporate Communications Barry Watkins in a statement said that the Knicks are "looking forward to reigniting the rivalry" with the Nets. Watkins: "We look forward to a great rivalry with the Nets, which will hopefully feature two winning basketball teams" (N.Y. POST, 5/21). The N.Y. Daily News' Tim Smith said Knicks fans are “some of the most loyal fans on the face of the Earth in all sports.” Smith: “They're not going to just go over to being Nets fans, regardless of whatever the new owner says or I think even regardless of the number of championships that he wins. I think Knicks fans are going to be Knicks fans. I don't think that they are that fickle.” But WFAN-AM's Joe Beningo said, “If the Knicks gave you another 10 years of the garbage that we've seen the last 10 years ... and (the Nets) do start winning a couple titles in Brooklyn, there are going to be people going over." The N.Y. Daily News' Bill Madden said the Nets are “going to develop their own fan base,” as Prokhorov is the “reincarnation of George (Steinbrenner)” (“Daily News Live," SNY, 5/20). Meanwhile, ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, "You can just listen to him for two minutes and figure out this guy is looking to take the country by storm, not New Jersey, not just Brooklyn, not even just New York. ... He wants to become a major American star" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 5/21).

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