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Q & A with Andre Kirilenko

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Jazz rookie Andrei Kirilenko recently did a question-and-answer session with the Russian sports magazine Sports Express.

The excerpts here are from that article, as translated into English by a Russian hoops fan named Serge Kiselev and reprinted on the Utah Jazz messageboard of the REALGM.com Web site.

A few minor changes were made in the interest of grammatical clarity. All insertions in parentheses were made by the Deseret News.

Question:Can you say you are a popular person in Salt Lake City?

"It seems to be that way. At least I am often invited to different events. For example, I was invited to a TV talk show — I was answering the questions during 10 minutes, live. It was directed perfectly, every second was thought through, yet they did not take into account that Russians can not follow the pattern. They ask: "What do you prefer: football or baseball?" "Soccer" — I answer. Or another question: "What do you like the most: Coca-Cola or Pepsi?" I laugh: "Juices!" Such an answer was a surprise for many — "Coca-Cola" is our sponsor. Yet the show producers were very satisfied anyway.

"The other event I was asked to take part in (was a) children's practice. So I arrived, didn't change the dress. Come in — 50 kids are waiting for me on the court. Parents are sitting. I didn't know what to do, for I was not dressed to do sports, being in jeans, and they've passed an amplifier to me. So I told (them) that we need to warm up in the beginning. And the kids immediately started to follow my instructions. We have worked two and a half hours. Parents liked it a lot — they were sending the pictures to me afterward.

"We have visited hospitals as a team. We autographed, were presenting basketballs to (kids), just talked. I played a little Sony PlayStation with one of the boys. Kids were happy — looked to (Karl) Malone and (John) Stockton with open mouths. I really like to be with children. If I could only speak better English."

Question:How do you like American reporters?

"To be honest, I expected more from them. Yes, they work perfect, they cover every game in full — TV, newspapers, but . . . Do you remember my best scoring game vs. Hornets? So right after the game it was about 20 of them and everybody asked the same question: "How could you score 19 points?" So what to answer?"

Question:What do you feel about mass-media representatives in general?

"Benevolent at the highest extent. When they call me for interview, I never refuse. If I am busy, I'll ask them to call 5-10 minutes later. Yet, there are some reporters which, sorry for that comment, are ready to abuse. In Russia, I had two of them in my "black list." The similar two I have in America."

Question:I know you have some experience of a reporter: Two and a half years ago you wrote for Sport Express about Stephon Marbury moving to New Jersey.

"No, I wouldn't want to become a reporter. Maybe only a special assignment reporter. And only in the elite magazine or newspaper. To be sincere, it would be interesting to work for Sport Express, yet it would not be my main job anyway."

Question:What would you want to be, if not a basketball player?

"I would spend my life doing sports anyway. Maybe I could be a soccer player. Or making athletics. (By the way) about 10 years ago I was invited to a prestigious athletics club. I was good in sprint — 100 meters, 200. The long distances I've started to run later, during the training camps."

Question:Do you go out with the other Jazz players sometimes?

"In the middle of December we have arrived in Miami two days (before our game). (John) Crotty has a house there, and he has invited Stockton, (Greg) Ostertag and me to sail the ocean on his boat. It was very hot. Everything could be perfect if we would not take the ground on the high speed. So what to do? We have started to push. It seemed we had to go only 20 meters, so we have made it half way but could not move any further. I realized that there is no use in our efforts and sat on the edge. Stockton noticed that, smiled: "Hey, young man, why do you sit here? It's harder to push this way!"

"We stopped and started to have fun. Not far from us there were seagulls watching us. Then somebody noticed that (they) were not seagulls but griffins, probably waiting for our death. And we started to regret that powerful Malone and (John) Amaechi are not with us. Only two and a half hours later the other boat come and took us off the ground. And in the team they like to talk about such accidents. As soon as we arrived they have started to make jokes: "So our sailors are finally here!" That was the most funny sail for me in the USA."

Question:How would you describe your first months in the United States?

"It was hard. First of all, it was difficult to adapt to new conditions. I think I am lucky that I went to Utah. They do not have any other big professional teams in Salt Lake City so everybody (is) cheering for us. In New York, for example, we wouldn't have so much attention. And so (much) assistance I get from the club's personnel to solve my problems. They offered (to help) me choose several houses, cars, yet they did not have to do it for me. They (are) always ready to help me when I have a language problem. I do not even think, for example, how to send a letter — just come to the club's secretary.

"But the problems of non-basketball life I have to solve by myself. When I've moved to a new house it was necessary to get gas, telephone, electricity, heating. I had to call to all different services. They were checking my ID — mostly by my social (security) number. I had to speak English to them, had some problems.

"There is another story. I decided to install the satellite dish. They ask me: 'Do you have snow in there?' 'Yes, it is snowing,' I answer. 'It is not suitable weather conditions for installation.' Can you imagine, they have offered to me to wait till the spring comes. But finally they have installed the dish. I can receive only NTV and NTV+ among Russian channels and no sport channels, so I can get only brief sport reports in the news. But I can watch a lot of serials instead.

"And one problem I still can't solve — I cannot connect to the Internet due to problems with cable."

Question:NBA players spend so much time in airplanes. What do Jazz players do in the plane?

"Every team has its own aircraft. Ours consists of three salons. The first is so-called playing. There are always the same four — Malone, (Bryon) Russell, (Scott) Padgett and (John) Starks — playing cards. John Amaechi is also there, he never leaves his computer.

The second is for sleeping. Since you enter in there you can make the scary movie: Stockton and Crotty are sleeping in the first row, and not only their mouths are open but their eyes are open also! The rest (of the) players and myself are also staying in there.

The third salon, to be honest, I've never entered. It's always crowded — head coach, his assistants, two doctors, two masseurs, five to six reporters and others."

Question:Do you have to go through security control?

"Never. The bus comes right to the airplane. And when we are arriving home, our cars are warm and ready not far from the stairs."

Question:What do you eat in the plane?

"Shrimps, meat, some hot dishes, cheese, fruits. The stewards are familiar of what each of us likes. And the orange juice is always waiting for me, ready."

Question:And what do your teammates prefer?

"No special orders made. The card players always have 2 new card sets and a big plate with fruits. So everybody can come and take them."

Question:Is there anything left for Malone & the band in this case?

"There are so much fruits, that it's impossible to eat all of them."

Question:You do not have enough time for sleep because of these trips, probably?

"Why do you think so? I am usually going to bed at midnight and get up at 8 a.m. Of course there were some times when I was coming home at 3 a.m. and the next day we have another game. But in this situation we do not have the morning practice so we can sleep more."

Question:How do you spend your free time?

"At home, mostly. With computer."