Jazz's Kirilenko discusses career, injuries, fans, future
Transcript of an interview with Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko conducted Thursday prior to Utah's home game against Portland.
Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko takes the ball inside, as Memphis Grizzlies forward Sam Young defends, in a game Jan. 1, 2011.
Kirilenko on his career with the Jazz, and the possibility that his time in Utah could be over: I definitely have one of the best part of my career here, coming from Russia as a young kid. Being the only one on an NBA team for 10 years, that means a lot. For those years, Salt Lake really become my home. My kids were born here. I always said it's a huge foundation, huge base, and really have tremendous moments of my life, not only basketball, but my on the court life here. I will remember the Utah Jazz forever.
Favorite era: Definitely first two years is special. It's new for me, different environment, America as a country. Because it was my first experience playing outside my country. It was my first year leaving married life. It's definitely my first, second year is the most, biggest of emotions. Karl and John, the excitement — start playing with them. But then, rest eight years kind of the same. I feel the same. I wouldn't say one year was worse or better. Game-wise, probably. But as experience-wise, I think every year is giving you so much, and every year is a different year. Like, we had a great year when we went to the [Western Conference] finals, but I didn't play well. Then I have a great season, but we didn't play well. So those kind of things, you learn from them, and you kind of change your game a little bit, kind of adjust for the system. … I have a great chance to play with three Hall of Famers who was the symbols of the Jazz, kind of learn from them. Been a very nice time from the fans, because I never seen those fans like here. I'm not saying fans are like followers — they follow the team everywhere like in Europe. Let's say Lakers fans, they follow them. But they're so loyal and they're so supportive. It doesn't matter what kind of time the team go through, good time, bad time. … We have a worse season than this. But the fans are still here and still cheering for us. Saying, OK, don't worry about this season, we're going to prepare for the next one. This is worth a lot. Believe me, I know how it go in a different situation, when all the fans, all the media, all the people around are killing you. Because I'm playing Russian national team, so I know how it is to be in a good time and a bad time. But, again, I'm not really paying attention to it. But this thing is really something. So, I want to give them huge credit.
Injuries and criticism: What I can say about that, I can't control it, first. But I think for the body of 6-9, 6-10 and being able to run the court and being able to play that kind of energetic style, you're going to get injury. You're going to get on the floor, you're going to bang against the guys. The guys who are moving a little bit less; again, bigger guys have more injuries. It's like a quote. You take a look at any forward who can really run and move a lot, they get hurt. They really get injured, and very rare examples when people don't. I would say, I'm not trying to get injured for a reason. But it happens. And all you can do when it happens is try to get back as soon as possible. Like, this year, how many games I played? Like, 65? It's 80 percent of the season. So, it's pretty good … during that long season. I'll take that. I still played about how many with the preseason? Probably 70-80 games. Unfortunately, we didn't play playoffs, I can make a 100.
More or less likely to return to the Jazz, compared to his stance throughout the season that Utah was his first option: Again, it's always a 50-percent chance. The huge favor of the Jazz is, I'm really used to be here. I love it here, my kids are still here, I have a house here, family here. It's a huge advantage for the Jazz. Odds, again, I don't know. We have to see with my wife, we have to figure it out. Maybe lockout. It's a huge part of it. If lockout, I might get back in Europe and start season in Europe. Again, I don't know. It's still … to be discovered. It's going to be interesting summer.
Playing again this season: I'm not going to slow myself down, saying, eh, we have three games left. But I don't want to say I'm rushing back. I'm not worried about it right now. I understand we're playing pretty young group of guys. I don't want to mess up their schedule, their routine — they're playing well. At the same time, I don't want to get back and not be 100 percent, and not be able to help and just take somebody's minutes, take somebody's time for the last game of the season. I'm going to be smart about it. It's not that if I'm not feeling anything I'm not going to play. If it's well for the next couple of days, I'm definitely going to go try and finish the season. I don't think so. But, again, maybe.
— Brian T. Smith
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