Utah Jazz rookie center Kyrylo Fesenko had to cut his post-game media interviews short on Wednesday night after the Jazz's 101-93 preseason win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Fesenko's ride was leaving and didn't want to wait.
No, the youngster hasn't hired a limo driver with his new NBA riches. He just can't drive.
So Andrei Kirilenko, in addition to being a full-time starting forward for the Jazz, has been a part-time taxi service for Fesenko. The 7-1 Ukrainian, you see, is still weeks away from getting a valid driver's license in Utah.
For his part, Fesenko is taking classes to learn how to drive at the same time he's trying to learn how to play in the NBA.
And to hear Fesenko talk, playing in the NBA may be going better than his driving lessons.
"I feel like (a) grandfather," said Fesenko of his penchant for driving slowly. "Everybody (driving) who is 16 look at me like, 'who is that?"'
On the court, however, the 20-year-old Fesenko, is looking like a guy who could contribute in the NBA immediately much to the chagrin of the Utah Flash brass. The new D-League team would love Fesenko to play for them in Orem this season.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan knows Fesenko has much to learn. But he also knows that he's been playing better than veteran forward/center Jarron Collins during the preseason.
"Jarron has struggled in his play," Sloan said. "Maybe I could play (Fesenko) in front of Jarron."
Fesenko played 12 minutes on Wednesday against the team that drafted him and traded him to the Jazz in June. He scored six points making both of his shots from the field and two of his four free throws with a rebound, an assist and a blocked shot.
"He gives us something about every time he steps out there," said Sloan of Fesenko. "He makes some positive moves for us. He also makes some negative moves, but that's to be expected."
Added new teammate Carlos Boozer, "He's a talented player. He catches the ball sometimes and he's right above the rim because he is so tall. He's going to be good, but he's young very young."
The language barrier and the cultural differences between the United States and the Ukraine make things tough, but Kirilenko has helped him try to adjust in those areas.
"There is a language problem, but Andrei has been helping out as much as he can," said Sloan. Having Kirilenko around "has got to be a real plus (for Fesenko), because if you were here without anybody it would be difficult."
Fesenko is averaging five points and 2.2 rebounds in limited minutes through five preseason games. And while it is just the preseason, it appears like he could play five or eight minutes per game this season for the Jazz especially if Collins continues to struggle.
"(Fesenko) is in an uncomfortable situation being here," said Sloan. "He doesn't have a driver's license. He's never driven a car before. All those type of things sound easy, but there is a lot for him to learn."
But Fesenko is learning. He won't need Kirilenko as his taxi service forever.He says he hopes to have his driver's license "in about a month."
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