Andrei Kirilenko honored by the Utah Jazz
Read this on AK by @JazzBasketball1. It’s the best AK post you’ll find. JBB also put together a fantastic video covering AK’s entire Jazz career here:
On being back in Utah: I’m missing Salt Lake. And my and my wife always talking when we landing in the airport, like, it feels like home. It feels, like, so natural. And it’s a great feeling. …
With all my respect to Minnesota and Brooklyn, it’s always been Utah Jazz. And you know, all the fans around the world would always associate me with Utah Jazz. And I’m, I’ve been very happy to considering and you know, think that the Utah franchise was my team and you know, all the organization been my team.
On how this night came about: Well, in the beginning of, end of February, beginning of March, Randy Rigby called me about Jazz alumni program and asked me if I’m gonna be here because Jazz wants to do this kind of night. And you know, I’m very grateful because it’s really been, majority of my career here. Not only basketball, but I always mention off the court part of my life because it’s not less important than the basketball part. And you know, along with basketball results, and you know, filling stats and playing great with the team and going through those stages, you know, my kids were born here.
You know, Salt Lake City really taught me a lot of things. You know, relationship with the community; how to treat my kids; how to treat the family. And those standards is really hard to, you know, value. You know, you can’t really bring it up from the basketball standpoint. So that, those things I would be really grateful for. You know, on the court, off the court kind of combining. …
Salt Lake City, as a city, really gave me great example how to raise my kids, how to be inside a community, how to, you know, work with the people, talk with the people, and I value that even more than the sports aspect. …
To be honest, I should be honoring Jazz, because you know, everything I have, Jazz gave me. You know, coming to America, young kid from Russia, you know, from other part of the world, and really, you know, becoming elite player in NBA. You know, Coach [Jerry] Sloan, all the organization believes in me. Fans; you know, city of Salt Lake gave me so much off the court. It’s a big honor for me.
On his place in the stat books: I’ve been w–fortunate enough to get a lot of stats in the duration of my career. It means, like, it’s very balanced player. If not Coach Sloan, if not Phil Johnson, I would never be on a place, you know, that high, ’cause they really made me such a balanced player…It’s really important to think about your team rather than, again, personal stats. It’s very nice to have great lines in every categories, but again, I always been thinking about a little differently.
On how Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson affected his career: Without them, I don’t know how my career would go, ’cause starting from my first couple years, you know, they gave me so much. They really put me in a position to succeed, and you know, I really make that step to become an All-Star [in] my third year and really kind of put myself in a, that elite category of the players who were really playing in the highest level in this league. … Him and Phil — I don’t know, I can’t split them up. You know, they go for me as a one — they really gave everything, you know, all their best. …
It’s 10 years. Imagine 10 years, it’s like more than my nine-years-old kid…It’s like a relationship in a family. You know, it’s always ups and downs. You know, for majority of time, it’s great time, but sometimes you have a conflicts. You have things which is you don’t like, which is coach doesn’t like. And in 2007, we have some tough times, which is, you know, we cou–I couldn’t handle first. And it’s kind of over the time, we figure out how to handle it. But at that time, it was just tough, and like in any family, it was a kind of breakdown.
On Larry H. Miller: He’s a guy who really believed in me, and you know, gave me the chance, along with Jerry and Phil, you know, [to] kind of be an important part of this franchise. And you know, I will have only good thoughts about him. You know, he always been a fan of the team. He always been really passionate about the team, and this is how the owners supposed to be. Without them, you know, w–there’s no success in the franchise when there’s no involvement. …
He didn’t take [the Jazz] as a business. He took it as a, as his passion.
On the Western Conference Final team and the importance of team chemistry: It was really fun for those, like, three, four, even five years. We have such a great group of guys who really been close together, and not only on the court, but off the court. You know, we always been celebrating, like, different, Christmas, different, I don’t know, Halloweens, all the celebration together. And this is very important, because, you know, every team, almost every team have the same type of, not chemistry, but same type of offers they can give you. But chemistry, you have to create. And that’s what probably the values the most, when they, when the guys on the team or the players, they like each other, they like to play for each other.
On being president of the Russian Basketball Federation : It’s a fun job. You know, it’s a very important job, and you know, I’m taking it seriously. Big challenge for me because, you know, finish my career being, you know, in the physical presence, going to practices. Right now, it’s more chair job. You know, sitting in the chair, you know, talking on the phone all day long. But, it’s a lot of work, you know, starting from the kids basketball and finishing with the national team, and everything is kind of lay on my shoulders. But again, it’s a very nice job to have and very, very challenging. I like that.
On his back tattoo: You know, like, everybody trying to get a tattoo in the early age, and I always wanted to try, but I didn’t really know that I’m ready for a tattoo. And you know, I kind of late, wait, but by the age of 30, I felt like, well, I still want it. You know, I still want to try, and I gave myself a present for 30 years old. And you know, I work for about six or eight months with my kids on the, what they wanted, and it’s kind of for them. It’s not for the showing off. And you know, I, if, you’ve seen probably one or two pictures in the Internet. It’s only be, by accident. So, it’s not really for the fans or for somebody to see. It’s for myself, for my kids, and I really enjoy it.