Alexey Shved talks braces, beer, missing his hair, Iverson as genius, and wearing his pajamas to practice
Here’s my traslation of Alexey Shved’s recent interview at Sports.ru:
- Don’t you get bored here, having moved from Moscow? Minneapolis is such a quiet city.
- Actually, I already got used to everything. I feel comfortable, I like it here… I had my good share of fun in the past, so I can be leading a quiet life now. Of course I knew that people like basketball here, but I couldn’t imagine to what extent… It’s even hard to explain, how good it feels to be playing here. Fans would approach you, ask for a photo, they talk in a nice manner. Here, there are no people who would annoy you and ask some nonsense questions. Everyone is good and nice.
- Are there any rituals for welcoming the rookies?
- It depends on a team. We don’t have such a ritual. They only gave me a pink rucksack; it’s lying in my car. Some of the guys had toy baby strollers next to their lockers. All in all, we have a young team. Kirya is the main veteran. So everyone makes jokes on everyone and there’s no rookie hazing. Once, I went to the practice wearing my pajamas. I was warm outside; I just put on my pajama pants and went to the gym. Everybody was laughing and saying it was cool.
- How’s your English?
- Well, I started learning it while in school. I didn’t take any lessons here. I just talk, and also ask Andrei about some of the words that I don’t know. My brother came here, he gives me tips too. I can already watch movies. I don’t know yet how to say everything I want, but I understand almost everything and people are starting to understand me too.
- Did you get a nickname in the States?
- They call me Alexy*, we’ve taught some of the Americans how to pronounce Aleshka. They also call me Slim, like Slim Shady.
- You are a fan of The Simpsons and of Homer Simpson in particular. What in America made you recall some of the scenes from the cartoon?
- Well, that everybody loves donuts here, and I eat them too. People mostly drink beer and not stronger drinks, exactly like in The Simpsons.
- Why did you decide to cut your hair only in America, even though in CSKA you ignored whenever someone even hinted about it?
- I wanted to change something. And now I already miss my hair. I don’t care what people on the outside advice me to do. I only listen to my relatives and those who are close, and they would always explain it to me about what I should do. If I want it, I will grow my hair again. It doesn’t make me play worse.
- Who is visiting you in Minneapolis?
- Right now everybody has already left. But there were: parents, sisters and their husbands, one of the nephews, the youngest one. We have a big house, so everybody fit in. My mom came and made a lot of pelmeni. Now we ran out of them, so my girlfriend will be making it. She is cooking all the time, and does it very well. Russian cuisine, Italian, Spanish… Anything!
- Are there any restrictions set by the club concerning food and alcohol?
- Nothing special. If you want to drink some beer, nobody will be against it. What’s important is to know your measure and to do well in practice.
- What if one comes to practice when hung over?
- Such thing didn’t happen yet.
- Do you do everything the right way while driving too?
- I was taking a test here to get an American driving license. I didn’t pass it on the first try, because it’s really strict. If you forget to use the turn light – that’s it, you failed the test. Probably I got used to driving here by now. They don’t stop you here unless you violate the driving rules, and I was never pulled over. If I go to Moscow now, I’ll be in a state of shock for the first few days.
- What’s your favorite car?
- BMW X5 and X6. I have bought an X5 here right when I arrived. It’s really cool to drive here, with no traffic jams. It takes me five minutes to drive to the gym. If told to be there at 12-30, I leave the house at 12-20 and I’m never late.
- You are working under the great coach Rick Adelman now. What is your biggest impression?
- He is a very calm person. He will not shout at you, but instead will explain everything calmly, you will understand and you will want it yourself to make everything right the next time. He trusts completely, and it concerns not only me, but many other players too.
- Do you have any kind of field goal attempt limit set by the coach?
- It works differently here: you miss, but everyone will tell you, “Shoot it!” If you are open – shoot it. And you shouldn’t think that you have missed five times before that – you can take another five shots.
- How do the local journalists treat you?
- In the NBA, even if you didn’t do something right, people would try to support you – both the journalists and the fans. Nobody has ever said anything bad to me, even after an off game.
- Are you going to protect your foot after the ankle sprain?
- I will be taping it for the remainder of the season, and then stop, because I can’t play like this – I need my foot to feel free, and it is impossible when wearing high shoes and a tape.
- You wear braces – did you make a special mouthpiece because of it?
- I don’t wear a mouthpiece at all. Three times in my career I took a very strong shot in the teeth, but I can’t wear a mouthpiece – it makes it difficult to breathe. And I’m taking my brackets off in three months. After the three years that I’ve been wearing it, I just can’t wait.
- You said that your idol was Allen Iverson, an anti-basketball player as a lot of people think, one who would only play for himself. Did your taste change with age or not?
- Allen Iverson is a genius. Yes, he didn’t get his ring, but he was able to outplay the entire opponent’s team. I think he is the most skilled NBA player of all time.
- How do rank yourself in the league? Well, at least among the rookies?
- I think that I play not worse than the people who were drafted this year. And then, I’m older – I’m not 20 but 24 already.
- What do you need to improve to have a successful NBA career?
- Everything! I will work on my physical condition and on skills too. So that just no one could steal the ball from me.
Since Shved brought it up himself, his first name sounds more like like “alec-SAY” than “a-LE-xy” as he’s normally called now in America. Listen:
A few days ago Alexey Shved was interviewed by Anton Solomin for Championat.com.
Here’s my translation:
- It looks like you are immune to the magic of Madison Square Garden, which would normally put pressure on the Knicks’ opponents.
- Nothing really put any pressure on me. But the fans there impressed – they are very loud, and many celebrities go to games too. The city itself resembles Moscow. Lots of lights, same traffic jams… They were even there on Sunday when we played the Knicks.…
- Does Rick Adelman instruct you personally during practices, considering that you are the only rookie on the team?
- Well, he talks to everyone. Actually, our coaching staff is really big and everybody gives some pieces of advice. I try to follow everything they say, because they wouldn’t recommend anything bad. It’s important that there are many former NBA players among the coaches and they know perfectly what they are talking about.
- And your sports boldness which shows itself during last seconds of the games – did you get it from them?
- Well, I’ve always been bold. Maybe that is the reason why there were some people who didn’t want me to play. (laughs). Why should I always do something for the others? Of course, you need to listen to your coach when he explains something during a timeout. But at the same time you need to feel the moment when you need to take initiative. Because there are moments which you cannot predict and draw on a tablet. So, sometimes you have to take the lead. Of course you can make the shot or you can miss. But if you don’t take the risk then you will just make some little passes for the rest of your career.
Later Shved took the decisive shot at the buzzer against the Houston Rockets and missed.
- By the way, you are doing great when it comes to assists. Recently you had your first NBA double-double of 12 points and 12 assists, and just three rebounds short of a triple-double. Didn’t teammates ask for a celebration?
- No, it’s not Russia where you have a double-double and, let’s go party! (laughs).
- Are you going to celebrate Christmas with the rest of America?
- Actually the Christmas spirit is really felt here during the last few days. It’s really nice, the whole city is lit up, and there are many Christmas trees and Santas in the streets… But for me the New Year still remains the main holiday, so we will celebrate that.
- It’s good that game schedule makes it possible to see the New Year in at midnight at home with your family. But you have a road game on January 2nd in Salt Lake City, so you need to travel. Will there be enough time for a good sleep?
- The lifestyle here is calmer than in Moscow. The restaurants close at 11 or 12 PM, the night clubs – no later that at 2 AM. So in any case you are able to wake up at 11 fully rested. In general, after living in Russian capital, I really like Minneapolis. It’s small and cozy and there is almost no traffic jams. Of course, you can have a lot of fun in Moscow, but the city is too big.
- Does it mean that if you could choose between Minnesota and New York, you would still pick your current team, taking the city into consideration too?
- What was the most memorable New Year celebration that you had?
- It was two or three years ago. We just fell asleep at 1 AM – how do you like that for a celebration? We had plans to go out and our friends have been waiting for us… And I don’t really understand how it happened, but we just came back home and passed out. We woke up at 10 AM, looked at each other and said, “Yeah, it was so much fun”.
- What was the best present that you remember?
- We have a tradition to prepare a lot of New Year gifts. To our parents, relatives, my girlfriend’s parents… Respectively, they give a lot of presents to us. Each year it’s such a pile of presents that it’s hard to pick out just one thing. But in general, the most important thing for me is not the price but how useful the thing is. For example, my girlfriend can give, say, a pair of grey pants which I didn’t have, and to me it’s better than any most expensive present.
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Journalist Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express has interviewed Alexey Shved on the phone after the Russian guard tied Luke Ridnour in scoring with 16 points in Minnesota’s win.
Here’s my translation:
- Even though Minnesota won, it still had the same problem: during the second half, team inevitably struggles on offense. For example, during the third quarter today, Timberwolves couldn’t score for five and a half minutes. Why does it happen?
- We are doing our best, but at one moment it’s just – pow! – and we stall. We have missed a lot of open shots today, even though we executed well. It helped that we defended well, and also managed to recollect ourselves on offense just in time.
- Minnesota got a lot of help from you – those three-pointers were timely. You have made four three-pointers for the game – that’s your best record during the NBA career.
- (Laughing) Actually I don’t track my stats this closely. But of course it’s really good that I made it. It was time for me to start making the shots at last.
- Thanks to what exactly?
- I have started to feel my shot; I have more confidence shooting the ball in general. And maybe I got used to the American three-point arc after all.
- Is it more difficult for you to shoot from behind the arc that is about three feet farther away than in Europe?
- I wouldn’t say so.
- And you have proved it that distance doesn’t make any difference – when you made a shot from almost 30 feet away with less than two minutes to go.
- I have checked the scoreboard right when I received the ball. Also, teammates told me that time was running out. If we had at least five extra seconds then I wouldn’t shoot it from that distance and would try to do something else. But in that situation I had no choice. When you have the ball it your hands with two seconds left, you just have to shoot it anyway.
- You have made 9 of 17 shots from behind the arc during the last three games. Can you say that you managed to find your shot after all?
- Let’s wait for a few more games and make conclusions then. Before that, I had 10 games when I couldn’t make anything. If I continue to make shots, then it will mean that I got used to playing here.
- Do the opponents still doubt your ability to score from the distance, or did they start to guard you closer?
- They are guarding me closer. And they started to jump at my pump fakes too – before, they wouldn’t even move. Actually, it’s good that they are guarding me closer now. It’s much easier to drive to the hoop this way. When you can’t shoot, the defender would step away further and it’s easier for him to defend.
- It’s been a few games since Love, Pekovic and Barea returned. But you still play more than 30 minutes in every game. Did you think you would get so much playing time?
- Without a doubt, Andrei’s absence due to injury in those games affected that. I got some extra playing time. But it was also more difficult to play. Having Kirilenko on the floor helps, I feel much more comfortable playing with him.
Then, another shooting guard, Chase Budinger, is injured.
Of course I’m happy that so much trust is being put in me. And I want to justify it, to help the team as much as I can. Not just on offense, but on defense too. Even though I know it perfectly that I play bad defense.
- Is it harder to play defense in the NBA than in Europe?
- Of course! Take [Juan Carlos] Navarro and [Kobe] Bryant, for example. Both are superstars, but there’s a difference. Playing against Navarro you know that you need to deny him the open shot and his trademark ‘La Bomba’. But how do you defend Kobe, who knows how to do absolutely everything?
- Probably the best recent news for Minnesota is that Ricky Rubio returned to practice.
- Yes, he started to practice with the team and should be back on the floor soon. When exactly it will happen is unknown. But it will be soon. Players, fans and journalists are all waiting for his return.
- Will Rubio’s return affect your playing time?
- I don’t think so. After all, I rarely play point guard – mostly at shooting guard. Of course, we’ll see. But one thing is certain: I need to work hard all the time and earn my minutes, prove that I deserve it. Yes, some really bad off games happen. But coach still trusts me – and, believe me, it’s very important.
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Vladimir Mozhaitsev of Sport Express has called Alexey Shved and interviewed him for the newspaper issue that was out on September 7.
Here goes the translation:
Admit it, the bronze medal game against Argentina, when you scored 25 points and made the decisive three-pointer – it was your best game with the national team so far?
I shouldn’t judge. I’m not separating my success from the team’s. Just trying to do my best in every game, to use every moment to the maximum.
In the bronze medal game you have made six three-pointers, but were just 3 for 18 during the previous two playoff games. Why did it happen?
Sometimes it happens. And there’s no use in looking for redeeming factors, something like we moved to another arena. I was doing the same things as always, it’s just that ball wouldn’t go through the rim. But at the same time I tried to make up for my misses by contributing in other areas – dished the ball, battled for the rebounds, was aggressive on defense.
Do you have any superstitions, which help you predict a good or bad shooting night?
Frankly, I do. But I will not tell you, or they will stop working.
By now, when a month has passed since the Olympics – did it sink in what a historic success for Russia those bronze medals were?
Of course it’s great that we managed to get to the podium for the first time in Russian history. Relatives, friends and acquaintances are still congratulating me on that. But life goes on. I hope the national team will have other great victories, and right now it’s time to get ready for the next season.
A season that will be special for you, since you are making an NBA debut. How are you going to prepare for it?
After the Olympics I was mostly having rest. I went to France. Right now I’m in Belgorod with my relatives. I’m going to America in about two weeks.
Are you going to share a flight with Andrei Kirilenko, your teammate?
I think it’s probably going to be different flights.
Did Kirilenko give you any pieces of advice, as an older friend and the most experienced player on Minnesota’s roster – how to make a faster transition to the NBA, in terms of basketball and way of life?
During the Olympics we have mostly talked about other things. While there, we were mostly worried about the national team. I’m sure that Andrei and I are going to have enough time to talk about the NBA in future.
How would you describe Minnesota’s playing style?
We have a very young team. I think we are going to play fast and exciting basketball.
And what can your say about your competitors at guard positions – Rubio, Barea, Roy, Ridnour?
They are great players. Anyway, I need to focus on showing my best skills in the first place.
Did you talk with head coach Rick Adelman about your role on the team?
Not yet. We will talk when I get to the US.
When you visited Minneapolis in summer, before the Olympics, did you manage to see the city?
Yes, and I’ve liked everything a lot. But I didn’t do anything about my place yet; I will get to it when I arrive. I will go to the US with my brother, who speaks English perfectly, and he is going to help me make myself at home there.
Don’t you plan to work on your English too?
In general, I speak all right. I can do interviews without any problems. But, of course, I need to improve.
Do you already which jersey number you’ll wear?
Yes, number one.
Alexey Shved has revealed the actual reason for his move to Minnesota: he picked the team out fear of competition.
As Timberwolves’ new guard was answering post-game questions in London, Sergey Karasev, who Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress called the ‘only NBA draft prospect at Olympics’, interrupted his video interview.
Karasev asked if it was the right decision to sign with Minnesota.
Shved didn’t hesitate.
‘Actually, a really regret that I didn’t sign with Triumph. But Karasev plays at my position there, and I didn’t know how to handle this problem’.
In a way that is quickly becoming a tradition for him, Shved followed with ‘but to be serious’ and tried his best to field the reporter’s question. Though it wasn’t easy.
Karasev along with young center Semen Antonov started to howl in the background, and then ‘Big Bad Wolf! – Big Bad Wolf!’ exchange with Shved has ensued.
In a possible attempt to raise his NBA draft stock, Karasev proceeded with a showcase of his balance and soft hands, pirouetting with Antonov in front of camera.
Make no mistake: even though Shved can be somewhat of a goofball and occasionally shows ‘less than super intangibles’ with his appearance, on the court he’s ‘extremely tough and won’t back down from anyone’, as recently confirmed by Timberwolves’ assistant coach Bill Bayno.
Young players obviously went against the will of Russian Prime Minister, who declared ‘no fooling around by athletes’ policy on the verge of the Olympics. But their creative talent helped turn what was destined to be a clichéd post-game interview into so much more.
Follow Alexander Chernykh on Twitter to stay updated on #ShvedFace and Russian basketball.
Having played great during Russia’s 95-72 win over Great Britain (boxscore), Timberwolves’ new guard Alexey Shved had to answer a lot of questions in English in the mixed zone. But later, Nikita Zagdai of Sports.ru got him for an exclusive interview in Russian.
Here’s a quick translation:
I passed every ball to [Andrei] Kirilenko, because we’re a duo. All Minnesota players feel special! Getting ready for the next season. But to be serious, it just happened this way. I had the ball, and he was open. We got used to playing together in CSKA. He scores, I’m passing the ball. It works great.
Your line is phenomenal: 16 points, 13 assists and 6 rebounds. Did you know you were close to a triple-double?
I didn’t even think about it. Only learned about the assists from guys on the bench. And also felt it myself, that I have dished a lot. But I didn’t check it on purpose. I was thinking more about the need to win this first game. And the second one. These are the most important games for us right now.
It seemed like the game involved the guards more, they were always a center of attention. Should it be like this, or did it happen because of the opponent?
I wouldn’t say so. We have everybody playing good. Bigs on the pick-n-rolls… well, everybody. When we need to, we are feeding the ball to bigs – or to Kirya, like today. We try to do act depending on the situation. Before each game we discuss everything, watch and decide what’s the best thing to do.
13 assists – did you move to point guard full-time? Getting ready to run the team in Minnesota?
No, I wasn’t even told what position I would play. But I’m ready for anything. I’ll play whatever way they need me to. I’m ready for everything, and then whatever happens, happens. We’ll see.
Your team was one of the last to arrive in London. What did you get to see already, what surprised you?
Well, everything! This is my first Olympics, after all. Everything is new. The Olympic village, all the athletes living together. We were welcomed really good. It’s fun. I liked it a lot. And one time we managed to visit a mall. There were a lot of people and we took a lot of pictures. But we’ll have a day off, so we’ll go out somewhere and look around.
Alexey Shved has returned to Moscow and was interviewed today by Anton Solomin of Sport-Express about his trip to Minnesota. (UPD: extended the introduction to stress it more that I only did a translation of the original interview this time)
Here’s a quick translation:
- It’s early to make a conclusion. Reports saying that I’m definitely going to Minnesota are not entirely true. I didn’t sign a contract yet. Yes, I have visited the club, looked at the way it works and talked to the team representatives. And now I’m back in Russia to join the national team in two days.
- Did you meet Rick Adelman?
- No, he wasn’t there at the time. But I know that he’s a great coach who likes to work with young players.
- What are the chances that you’ll be wearing a Timberwolves jersey start next season?
- I’d say about 80 percent.
- The other 20% are Memphis and Cleveland?
- Not necessarily. Right now I’m a CSKA player. Though, of course, I want to try what I can do in the States. I had several offers from NBA teams, but together with my agent Obrad Fimic we decided to go to Minnesota. Right now Obrad is in Vegas, where the Summer League games are taking place – he’s there to continue the talks.
- Why did you choose the Timberwolves? Is this a club that has shown the most interest, or does it just suit you better as a team?
- Both. The Timberwolves have been watching me, and also it’s a young team that suits me.
- What do you think is your position in the NBA?
- It doesn’t matter. I like to play point guard, and shooting guard as well. So I’m playing wherever coach puts me.
- But Minnesota has both of these positions covered by accomplished stars in Ricky Rubio and Brandon Roy…
- It’s all right. In CSKA I also had to fight to gets minutes on the court. Everybody has to go through this.
- A lot of people say that you have to bulk up and also improve your defense in order to be successful in the NBA. What do you think of that?
- Basketball is really more athletic there. If the club says that I need to put on weight, I’ll do it. I’ll try to improve on defense too. It all depends on your desire. If you want it really bad, then everything is going to happen.
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