Andrei Kirilenko: "The European game really prepared me"
What adjustments have you had to make from the European game to the NBA game?
Andrei Kirilenko: It’s different. Different style of the game, and different rules. In the NBA, the players prefer to play aggressive and play one-on-one, compared with the European game, where they play team offense and team defense, some zone defense… You know, it’s a little bit easy. Here, the game is much more aggressive and stronger.
And how did playing in Russia prepare you for the NBA?
AK: You know, I think the European game really prepared me. You have a lot of American players, and former NBA players, in the European league just like there are a lot of Europeans in the NBA. It gives you a chance to grow up. And now I can grow up even more in the NBA, because it’s the best league in the world.
Have other European players been helping you with your adjustment?
AK: I keep a relationship with Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Antonis Fotsis, who plays in Memphis, too. Some Yugoslavian guys like Peja Stojakovic and Ratko Varda from Detroit, Hedo Turkoglu from Turkey and Vlade Divac, they talked to me when I first got here. They helped me with advice for life and on the court. [Jazz reserve John Amaechi walks by] And Amaechi, he helps me. He’s English, you know. He helped me adapt with the team, taught me some jokes and some rules.
Has it helped having Rusty LaRue on your team?
AK: Of course. Rusty and I played together last year in Russia and it helps having someone you know.
Last game you threw an alley-oop to Scott Padgett. Was that more fun than actually dunking it yourself?
AK: Actually, dunking is fun, but I sometimes enjoy passing more than shooting the ball.
What do you think of your team’s chances this year?
AK: I want to play in the playoffs and win. I’ll try, that’s all I can do.
Stephen Siegel is a freelance sports writer for local Portland publications and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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