Andrei Kirilenko on staying in Brooklyn and Nets coaching change
Katerina Manina of SportBox.ru has interviewed Andrei Kirilenko who attended a streetball tournament in Moscow.
Here is my quick translation:
You have renewed your contract with Brooklyn. Why did you make this decision, even though you had player option for the next season?
When I was just signing the contract originally, I planned that I would stay in New York for a couple years. Me and my wife always wanted to live for some time in this city. We have seen a lot of different places, different parts of America, different people – in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Minnesota. But we have never managed to feel the real spirit of this special city. We wanted to dive into this atmosphere. And then many factors came into play, making it possible for it to become reality.
Of course, the most important thing was last year’s big trade, when the team got Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. I wanted to play on such a roster where, from the very beginning of the season, everybody expects you to win. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done, but it was a good try. We didn’t start the season well either, then managed to regroup and finish on a good note. Played a seven game first round series, but we came a bit short against Miami. That was a great experience. Of course I would have liked to play more, but I knew what I was getting into before I signed.
How did you like working with Jason Kidd?
When Kidd became the head coach, players didn’t know what to expect from him. He never worked as a coach, so he didn’t have any kind of reputation by that moment. For the first 30 games, it was very hard. I understood that it was a process, but it’s hard when you lose more games than you win. It helped me that I was injured. [smiles] Because even on the bench you think, ‘I can come out and change that!’. And there I couldn’t even step on the court and do anything. But then it became better, things started falling into place: team started winning, I came back from the injury. And we finished the season great.
What do you expect from the new Nets coach Lionel Hollins?
I know about Hollins that he is a very experienced coach who knows how to work particularly well with veterans, because he was the head coach of a rather older team in Memphis. I think this is a great choice by Brooklyn’s management. I think he will be able to establish the system for our older team.
For a lot of basketball players, NBA title is the pinnacle of their career. If we imagined a situation where you were told, ‘You are going to be a champion, wear a ring, but in exchange you will have to give back…’ What would you agree to sacrifice?
But what kind of a sacrifice that would have to be? If it’s something of material value, then I am ready to part with anything – the car, the house, none of that is important. If it has to do with something emotional, something I’m attached to, family, then no. I am definitely not giving a year of my life, for example.
You have played with Alexey Shved in Minnesota. What does the guy need to start playing in the NBA?
He has everything to play in the NBA. To do it better, he needs the trust of his coach, nothing else. I saw him on the court, he knows how to play basketball! He has proven himself in the first half of his rookie season. He played great, had everything going for him, and then… The less playing time you have, the less chances you have to prove yourself. You just need to trust in him.
David Blatt, who you worked with on the Russian national team, became the head coach of Cleveland. What kind of future do you think he has as head coach in the NBA?
I am happy for David, we are close friends. After so many years spent together on the national team, I can’t talk about him just as a coach I used to worked with. He is more than a coach – he is a friend, a family member even. When he was named head coach of Cleveland I congratulated him immediately. This is a huge step forward for him, he has deserved this position a long time ago. The thing is, NBA is a league on its own, and European coaches are not very welcome here. But it happened at last, and it’s a great chance for David.
Are the jerseys with our name on the back selling well in the Nets store?
My jerseys are flying off the shelves. [smiles] I tried to buy one late in the season and couldn’t do it. Probably Russian-speaking people of Brighton Beach bought them all.
What shoes do you prefer to play in? Do you have a favorite model?
I have been playing in adidas shoes for 15 years already. I have a favorite model – Crazy Light, this is the best of those I tried. The new Crazy Light are coming soon, so I am standing in line to get them, can’t wait.