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A Front Office as Young as Its Team

Irina Pavlova
Irina Pavlova

The Nets no longer have the youngest roster in the NBA after the acquisition of 30-somethings Troy Murphy and Joe Smith.  But they may have the youngest front office, filled with 30- and 40-somethings just as the roster is filled with 20-somethings. Their only competition in both categories is the Thunder but the Nets appear to have the edge.

Mikhail Prokhorov is not just the principal owner, at 45.  He's the senior member of the ownership. Everyone else up is at least seven years younger.  Only Gregg Polinsky on the basketball operations side is older.

Two members of the controlling Chairman's Council, Dmitry Razumov and Christophe Charlier, are in their 30' is Bobby Marks, the executive vice president for basketball operations.

CEO Brett Yormark is four years removed from Sports Business Journal's "40 under 40"; Irina Pavlova, president of the company that holds Prokhorov's interest in the team, just turned 40; and the two key players on the basketball operations side are only slightly older: GM Billy King, the new general manager, and  Avery Johnson, his head coach. Then, there's Investor/Global Icon Jay-Z, who's slightly older than the numbers in the name of his club, the 40/40.

The team may be the NBA's most diverse with Russian, French and American citizens as well as a (Russian) woman.  Here's short bios of them and other key players on the Nets young front office...with their ages:

Mikhail Prokhorov, Principal Owner

Mikhail Prokhorov was born in Moscow, Russia in 1965. His mother, Tamara, was a chemical engineer and his father, Dmitry, was head of the international department for the Soviet Sport Committee, which greatly influenced his love of sports from an early age. While still a student, Mikhail earned his first money unloading railway cars, and he then established his first business venture stone-washing blue jeans. He graduated with honors from the Moscow Finance Institute and began his career in the banking sector with the International Bank for Economic Cooperation and the International Finance Company.

In 1995, his Uneximbank acquired control of the Norilsk Nickel mining company. Mikhail became Chief Executive Officer of Norilsk Nickel in 2001, where he remained until 2007, when he sold his stake. In that year, Mikhail created Onexim Group, a holding company for his assets, which now include metals companies (Polyus Gold, UC Rusal) banks (Renaissance Capital, MFK Bank), media outlets (Snob, Russian Pioneer magazines, FIT television channel, F5 web portal/newspaper), insurance (Soglassye), real estate (OPIN Investment and Development Group), electricity production (Quadra) and nanotechnology (Optogan). His latest projects include a plan to produce Russia’s first hybrid car and the planned purchase of Russia’s foremost business news company, RosBusinessConsulting (RBC

One of the world's richest men with a fortune estimated at as much as $17.8 billion, he also has a foundation that supports a wide range of causes, from sports to cultural development. The Prokhorov Foundation is run by his  sister, Irina. Prokhorov is 45.

Dmitry Razumov, CEO of Onexim, and Director of Nets Basketball.

Before shifting his focus to financial ventures, early into his career, Dmitry Razumov practiced business and corporate law at Clifford Chance, a London law firm. He gained investment banking experience with Renaissance Capital, then the leading Russian investment bank. In 1998, he left Renaissance Capital to co-found the LV Finance, an independent venture capital firm that still stands behind the success of MegaFon, the third largest mobile phone operator in Russia. He sold his interest in 2003.

Starting in 2001, Razumov served as Deputy CEO for Strategy and M&A of Prokhorov's Norilsk Nickel, Russia's largest mining company, leading its transformation into a world class company through groundbreaking deals with international mining concerns, like Stillwater Mining Company, Gold Fields and Polyus Gold, and by pioneering corporate governance standards for  Russian blue-chip companies.

After Onexim's acquisition of a 14 percent stake in UC RUSAL, the world's largest aluminum company, Razumov joined the UC RUSAL Board of Directors. Since December 2008, he has been a Board member of the OPIN Investment and Development Group, a Moscow real estate company owned in part by Prokhorov. In June, Razumov joined the board of the Russian nickel giant Norilsk Nickel. He was also elected a Board member of MMC Intergeo and Chairman of the Board of MFK Bank -- Prohkorov attempts to consolidate his mining and banking operations.  Razumov also helped engineer Prokhorov's acquisition of a 50% stake in his old company, Renaissance Capital.

He graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations (International Law Faculty), a favored talent pool for Prokhorov.  He accompanied Prokhorov to the NBA Draft Lottery and was part of the interview process for the Nets coaching and general manager's jobs. He also worked on the Prudential Center lease. Razumov is 35 years old.

Christophe Charlier, Deputy CEO of Onexim and Chairman of the Board, Nets Basketball

Christophe Charlier joined Onexim Group as Deputy CEO in September 2008. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Renaissance Capital, Rusal Global Management, and Quadra, involved in finance, mining and consumer energy production and owned in large measure by Prokhorov. He's also Chairman of the Board of Nets Basketball as well as Optogan, which manufactures high brightness LED displays. All are financed by investments from Onexim.

Prior to joining Onexim, Charlier was Director of Strategic Development and Mergers & Acquisitions (M&M) at Norilsk Nickel from 2002 to 2004. From 1998 to 2002, Charlier was Vice President of LV Finance, a corporate finance and venture capital boutique in Moscow. Prior to that, Charlier worked in the Investment Banking Group of Renaissance Capital in Moscow and in the M&A Group of JP Morgan in New York.

Along with Razumov, he helped facilitate the Nets move to Newark and is involved in the team's business operations. He succeeded Bruce Ratner as chairman of the board of directors while Prokhorov succeeded Ratner as principal owner.

Charlier graduated cum laude with a BSE with a concentration in Finance from the Wharton School and a BA in International Relations from the College of Arts & Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania. Like Razumov, worked on the Prudential Center lease. Charlier is 38.

Brett Yormark, CEO, Nets Basketball, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment

Brett Yormark was named chief executive officer, Nets Basketball, in January, 2005. In overseeing all aspects of business operations, Yormark has established new team standards for ticket sales and corporate sponsorships and has reinvented the culture of the organization.

In addition to directing the Nets, Yormark serves as the president and chief executive officer of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE). Through BSE, Yormark has oversight for all facets of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the NETS will relocate in 2012, including operations, event programming, sales and marketing.

In January 2007, Yormark secured a 20-year strategic marketing partnership with Barclays, which includes the naming rights to the Barclays Center. In addition to Barclays, Yormark has signed agreements with 10 major partners for the Barclays Center, including: ADT, Cushman & Wakefield, EmblemHealth, MetroPCS, MGM Grand at Foxwoods, Jones Soda, Haier America, Phillips-Van Heusen, Anheuser-Busch, and High Point Solutions.

More recently, in February 2010, Yormark was instrumental in negotiating agreements with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and the Devils Arena Entertainment, which allowed for an early termination of the NETS’ lease of the IZOD Center and cleared the way for an interim relocation to the Prudential Center in Newark for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 NBA seasons. Yormark is 44.

Irina Pavlova, President, Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings USA

Pavlova will direct the Nets' business affairs.  She will not control basketball operations.  Pavlova, who has lived in the US for more than a decade, has attended Nets games the last two months of the season, familarizing herslef with the team's operations before touring the team's facilities in East Rutherford in April.

After being named president in June, Pavlova did an extensive interview with Ben Couch of the Nets staff, the headline of which was that she has no intention of meddling in the basketball side, that her main focus is serving as a liaison between the Russian and US sides of the business and facilitating the construction of Barclays Center.

She is the daughter of a Soviet diplomat who grew up in Moscow and Washington. Most recently, she was a partner at Jackson Consulting Group, a San Francisco-based investment banker.  Previously, Ms. Pavlova was the Head of Google Strategic Partnerships in Russia and prior to Google, she served as a Managing Director at Shoreline Pacific Institutional Finance and as a Portfolio Manager at Wentworth, Hauser and Violich where she focused on middle market equities.

Ms. Pavlova has an M.B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. and B.A. from Moscow University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).  She is fluent in Russian, English and Spanish.  "She will work closely with the management structure of the Nets to create all conditions necessary for successful development of the team," Prokhorov said in a press release.  She is Prokhorov's first management appointment. Among her responsibilities will be to coordinate operations with Forest City Ratner in the construction of Barclays Center.  Ratner's lead executive on the project as well as the ESDC's Atlantic Yards director are also women.  Several of Onexim Group's top officers are women as well, including its chief financial officer. Pavlova is 40.

Billy King, General Manager, New Jersey Nets

King joins the Nets after spending 10 years with the Philadelphia 76ers organization, serving as the team’s president from 2003-2007.  King joined the 76ers on June 2, 1997 as vice president of basketball administration, a role in which he served as the point person for basketball operations. Less than a year later he was promoted to general manager, a position he held until being promoted to team president following the 2002-03 season.

During his 10-year tenure, King guided the team to five consecutive playoff appearances (1999-2003), including the 2000-01 season in which the Sixers captured the Atlantic Division Title on the heels of a 56-26 season and went on to win their first Eastern Conference Championship since 1983, to advance to the 2001 NBA Finals.

Before joining the 76ers, King served as an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers under Larry Brown for four seasons. He joined the professional ranks after spending four seasons as an assistant at Illinois State University under Head Coach Bob Bender. He also spent one year as a color analyst for ESPN's basketball coverage of the Ohio Valley Conference.

During his collegiate career, King was an outstanding defensive player on Duke University's nationally ranked teams in the late 1980s and received the Henry Iba Corinthian National Defensive Player of the Year award following his senior season. King helped the Blue Devils to a 112-27 record, an average of 28 wins per season as Duke went to the Final Four twice, won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship and two ACC Tournament titles. King is 44.

Avery Johnson, Head Coach, New Jersey Nets

Johnson brings a 194-70 (.735) career coaching record to the Nets, having led the Dallas Mavericks to the postseason in each of his three-plus seasons as head coach.  He holds the highest coaching winning percentage in NBA history and set the record for reaching the 150 win plateau the fastest (191 games).  In 2005-06, Johnson led the Mavericks to their first ever appearance in the NBA Finals en route to earning NBA Coach of the Year honors.

Johnson was appointed head coach of the Mavericks on March 19, 2005, following the resignation of Don Nelson.  An immediate success, Johnson finished the season with a 16-2 mark, earning Western Conference Coach of the Month honors for April.  In his first full season as head coach, Johnson led the 2005-06 Mavericks to a 60-22 record and the team’s first ever Western Conference Championship.  The following season, he guided the team to an NBA best 67 wins in 2006-07.  Making the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, Johnson holds a career playoff record of 23-24 (.489).

Johnson began the 2004-05 season as an assistant coach with Dallas after retiring as a player on October 28, 2004. In 16 NBA seasons, he averaged 8.4 points, 5.5 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 25.3 minutes played in 1,054 career games with seven different teams.  Known as "The Little General" for his on-court leadership and diminutive stature, Johnson helped guide the San Antonio Spurs to an NBA Championship in 1999.

The New Orleans native played his final two collegiate seasons at Southern University, leading the NCAA in assists in each of his two years at Southern, and was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and the MVP of the conference tournament as both a junior and senior.

Following his time in Dallas, Johnson has spent the past two seasons as an NBA analyst for ESPN.  Johnson is 45.

Bobby Marks, Assistant General Manager, New Jersey Nets

In his fourth season as the Nets vice president of basketball operations and 15th with the team overall, assists  in the areas of salary cap management, team travel and the day to day business of basketball operations. In addition to his current title, Marks also serves as director of player development. In that role, Marks helps provide a smooth transition for new Nets players joining the team for the first time and assists current players with their everyday needs.

While in college, Marks was a member of the Marist football team, and received his B.A. in communications in 1995. Upon graduation, he joined the Nets as an intern in the public relations department and did a second internship in the basketball operations department. Hired in January of 1996 as a basketball operations assistant, Marks is the longest tenured member of the department.  Marks is 37.

Gregg Polinsky, Director of Player Personnel, New Jersey Nets

Gregg Polinsky's title is Director of Player Personnel, but his real job is chief scout.  Now in his 11th season overall with the franchise, Polinsky joined the Nets as a scout in 1999 and spent the three seasons as the team’s director of scouting before getting his new title in 2008. A native of St. Louis, Mo., Polinsky played college ball at New Mexico and earned his degree in physical education from Northern Arizona. He began his coaching sojourn in 1981 as an assistant at Howard College (1981-83), and served in a similar capacity at the University of Texas (1983- and the University of Alabama (1986-95) before assuming the head coaching post Georgia Southern, a position he held from 1995-99. He is generally credited with the improvement in Nets' draft picks over the past few years.

Polinsky lives in Birmingham, AL, traveling to college and international games...and to New Jersey.  He is the oldest of the Nets' basketball operations staff at 52.

Milton Lee, Director of Basketball Operations, New Jersey Nets

In his new role, Lee will oversee the Nets' statistical and analytical efforts, as well as assist General Manager Billy King and Assistant General Manager Bobby Marks on player personnel matters.  Previously, he had served as a consultant for Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings.

Prior to joining the Nets, Lee started his own basketball services company where he worked in various capacities with the NBA, teams and players and had served as athletic director at the New York Athletic Club. Lee personally worked as a skills coach with several NBA players, including current Net, Troy Murphy and former Nets Richard Jefferson and Josh Boone.  Lee served as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers summer league team in 2008 and 2009, and has been a consultant to the NBA at the past five Pre-Draft Combines.  Earlier in his career, Lee worked as a proprietary trader on Wall Street for ING Barings and SAC Capital.  Lee interned for the NBA at three consecutive Olympic Games, including 1992, for the original “Dream Team.”

A native of Bergen County, New Jersey, Lee is, like Christopher Charlier, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the junior varsity basketball team. Lee's ambition: to be an NBA general manager.

Beyond all them, Prokhorov is expected to hire a Russian, and likely a young one, to join the basketball operations staff.