Ivan Chiriaev: "I have no ego"
Ivan Chiriaev: So far, so good. It's been good.
So you're happy there?
IC: I'm happy. Sure, I'm happy.
What was the main factor for you in your decision to return to Russia?
IC: I know everything about this. I know how basketball goes here in Russia, how European basketball works. After all, I spent 11 years of my life playing basketball here.
Are you getting the playing time you expected with Dynamo?
IC: I do expect to get more playing time. Right now, I just try to work hard to get it. But this is a very good team, so it's not very easy. We have very good players here, so it's difficult just to get in. You have to consider that we have some of the best players in Russia. This is the second best team here.
What position do you expect to play there?
IC: I will play any position the coach wants me to play. I have no problem with that. But probably I'll be playing the three and four spots.
You said last season you thought you could play the point. Do you still think that?
IC: Of course. Nothing changed. I'm still working hard on all my game. I work before practice and after practice on all my skills.
You took a lot of criticism last year after the All-Canadian High School Game. What went wrong there?
IC: First of all, I played injured. So I couldn't play at my usual level. I did the best I could. I scored 17 points and I was named MVP. If I couldn't play better, it was because of the injury I had. It all came down to that. I was expecting to play much better, but the injury didn't allow me to do that. And I guess people put a lot of stock on that game since I was not able to play in the Nike Hoop Summit.
What was the main reason for you to pull your name out of the draft?
IC: The injury was the main reason. I wanted to take part in workouts with NBA teams, but I couldn't do it in those conditions. I wanted to present myself in the best possible way. But I had just pulled my groin and that was not possible. I didn't want to go to the workouts knowing I wasn't going to look as good as I can.
You were expecting to play in the NBA this season. How did you feel when you knew that was not going to happen?
IC: Well, it's not like I lost something. It was just delayed one year. And anyway, I'm still playing basketball. And I'm doing it with a very good team and getting better day by day. So it wasn't that hard.
You were heavily criticized for some of the things you said to the media last year – like "the NBA needs Ivan Chiriaev." Do you regret saying something like that?
IC: I did say that. But I didn't mean it the way the media wanted to present it. You know, it was because of my knowledge of English. It was not perfect. People have to understand that I didn't say that in a bad way.
They said you had a big ego after those comments. Was that unfair?
IC: I think it is. I have no ego. I have no ego at all. Those who know me know that very well. It was kind of an accident that I said that.
Are you going to declare for the draft this year?
IC: I'm expecting to do that, but it's still not clear. I'll have to see what happens and see what my agent thinks.
If it was only up to you – and not also your agent – what would you do?
IC: It all depends on the next two months. The playoffs are coming here and I have to see if I get more playing time with my team. But I would like to go to the States and take part in some workouts with NBA teams.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com
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