Andrei Kirilenko Q&A: Disoriented ex-Jazzman happy to revisit 'special' place
We have a very short time here. It's only one. I met my wife. She came back and she's going to be at the game.
This summer coming back from Russia, did you have any thoughts of joining the Jazz again?
During the lockout, I stayed in Russia and kind of prepared for the Olympic Games. I had a great season there. I always think that I have to go back to the NBA because the level of the game is way different. During the offseason, the Jazz really have small forward position is filled out. It's all about the role of GM. It's pretty tough when you got like three or four guys, same type, the same position. It's just game time is going to affect you. You don't want to be in a situation where your game time is affected. You want to play.
Has Minnesota been a great fit for you?
It's a great fit. Rick Adelman is a great coach. Actually, he played in so many games here (against his teams) as well. I'm very happy we beat Houston. We lost to Sacramento, though, in those playoffs (2003). He's a great coach. He's a players' coach. Everybody knows that, but I feel pretty good.
The team is overachieving it seems like, without having a healthy Kevin Love for most of the year. How have you been able to find success?
I kind of look at this team as a team we had after Karl and John left (in 2003-04). It's just kind of a similarity. You remember the season we didn't make the playoff by one game, but the team was so excited playing at a high pace, fighting, even though nobody counted on us. This team, Minnesota, has really reminded me of that season. We're very young, ambitious, really grinding and fighting for a spot in the playoffs. It's fun to play that way every night. You want to get the extra win.
How many more years can you play?
I'm still running. As long as you're running and as long as you feel good, you keep playing.
How much of an advantage was playing in this building with the loud crowd?
I can see they’re probably one of the loyalest and hardest fan for the opposite team. They've always been very, very supportive for the Utah Jazz. I bet tonight is going to be tough to play against it because it's a really momentum game. Jazz going to get the momentum and it's going to be tough to stop.
They might welcome you at first, but as soon as the ball's tipped?
I hope we going to start paying well and we don't let them get that momentum.
How did it feel not walking down that hallway and stopping short and walking into this room (visitors locker room)?
I didn't even know the guest locker room was here. I was like, 'Where is the guest locker room? OK, right here.'
Are you still involved in the charity work you did here?
Yes, Kirilenko's Kids is still working in Utah and back in Russia. We're doing a lot of projects. The latest one we started in Russia is school basketball. We involve a lot of schools, not professional basketball schools, but just the regular schools. They play in a lot of tournaments.
Thank you, guys. I'll see you tonight.
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