When Andrei Kirilenko was asked last week how important the Russian element --and Brooklyn-- was to his decision to join the Nets, he called it "huge." "It’s kind of reminding me of playing home," Kirilenko told beat reporters. "I played the lockout year in Moscow. There’s Russian fans, everybody speaks Russian. It makes you feel like you’re home. It’s nothing against America. But it’s like it makes you feel like you’re at home."
Indeed, there are nearly 200,000 Russians and Russian-Americans in Brooklyn and Kirilenko is one of Russia's most popular sports heroes. So Kirilenko's arrival is going to be a big deal for the Nets, says Irina Pavlova, president of ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment, Mikhail Prokhorov's investment vehicle. Pavlova tells NetsDaily that the Nets will be updating their Russian language site, NetsRussia, using it as a launching pad for marketing the team to Russians.everywhere.
On marketing to the Russian-speaking community.
"We're taking a more holistic approach to our Russian marketing plans, starting with the website."
On using Andrei Kirilenko as a magnet for Russian fans.
"I think with Andrei on board we can finally build that bridge to Russian fans in Russia. And create some sponsor and partner interest from there as well... Every time we've talked to potential sponsors there, we always heard, 'If only you had a Russian player, things would be different....'"
On the Nets' Russian language website.
"The website is an integral part of that ... and that now that AK is with us ... as well to those potential sponsors and partners. Now, it makes sense to put some resources behind the site as it is our face to the Russian-speaking world...
How soon before we see the Russian website the way you'd like it.
"There's no formal date on the Russian site relaunch but I'm pushing to have something useful and 'pretty' by the start of the season."
The Nets already have two Russian sponsors: Aeroflot, the airline, and Stolichnaya, the vodka company which has a strong presence in the arena. And of course, they also have Moscow native Alyonka Larionov..