All news

Russia’s basketball chief and ex-player Kirilenko says no need for his farewell match

MOSCOW, February 17. /TASS/. Famous ex-basketballer and President of the Russian Basketball Federation (RBF) Andrei Kirilenko told TASS on Wednesday he believed it was unnecessary organizing a farewell match for him.

Kirilenko, 34, called it a day in his successful basketball career in June of 2015 and two months later he was elected the president of Russia’s governing body of basketball. Last week, Andrei Vatutin, the president of CSKA basketball club, said he wanted to hold a farewell match with Kirilenko.

"We did not speak with CSKA on the issue of the farewell match," Kirilenko, who will be celebrating his 35th birthday on Thursday, said in an interview with TASS. "To be honest, I have never felt the necessity of it."

Kirilenko played for the titled CSKA basketball club in 1998-2001, 2011-2012, 2015. However, he spent most of his professional career in the US-based National Basketball Association (NBA).

"I believe that last year’s victory [of CSKA] over Khimki in the final match of the VTB United League was the farewell game for me," he said. "However, I would not refuse if basketball fans would think it would be necessary for them to see me at such event."

"After all, CSKA is my home club, just like Utah Jazz," the former Russian-American professional basketball player, said.

Kirilenko began his professional basketball career at the age of 15 and in 1999 the talented player was drafted by NBA’s Utah Jazz becoming the first Russian ever selected in the first round of a draft. He also became the youngest European to be drafted by a club in NBA at the age of 18.

However, he played the next two seasons for CSKA Moscow basketball club, which he joined in 1998 under a three-year contract, and began playing overseas for Utah Jazz in 2001.

During his next 11 years playing for Utah Jazz, Kirilenko reached his career high in the season of 2003-2004, when club’s leaders John Stockton retired and Carl Malone left for LA Lakers. During that season Kirilenko recorded an average of 16.5 points per game.

He left Utah Jazz in 2011 and returned back to Russia reuniting with his CSKA Moscow club and played there until the following year. In 2012, Kirilenko once again took to the courts of NBA arenas first playing for Minnesota Timberwolves (2012-2013) and then for Brooklyn Nets 2013-2014.

In all, Kirilenko played a total of 797 games throughout his NBA career showing an average record of 2.7 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 11.8 points per game.

In his third and final return to CSKA, Kirilenko signed a contract with the club for the remainder of the 2014-2015 VTB League season on February 24, 2015. Having Kirilenko for the second half of the season CSKA roamed into the Euroleague’s Final Four, but although deemed by many experts as favorites to win the title, the Moscow lost in the semifinal to Olympiacos. In over 11 games playing for CSKA in Euroleague that season, Kirilenko averaged 8.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

The 2014-2015 season for CSKA and Kirilenko ended with the champions title of the VTB United League winning the final series against Khimki with the 3-0 games win. On June 23, 2015 Kirilenko announced his retirement.

Besides the professional career, Kirilenko was the player of the Russian national team since 2000, when he debuted with the country’s squad at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney. As part of the national team he played at five FIBA EuroBaskets, including the one in 2007, which the Russian team won and Kirilenko was named the MVP of the tournament.

Kirilenko also played for the country’s team at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in China’s Beijing, where he was the Russian Olympic team’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Games.

Nicknamed "AK-47," because of his name’s initials and his jersey number, Kirilenko is married and is the father to three sons and a daughter. Coincidentally, Kirilenko was born in the Russian city of Izhevsk, where the world’s most-known Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle was developed in 1940s by Mikhail Kalashnikov.