SALT LAKE CITY — Drawing a large ovation, Andrei Kirilenko walked toward center court surrounded by his family where he held a framed No. 47 Jazz jersey and received gifts honoring his 10 seasons with the Utah Jazz.
Afterward, he grabbed a microphone and addressed the fans with a short message. "Thank you very much for your loyalty," he ended, waving to the crowd.
The Jazz honored the former All-Star during the second quarter of Utah's game against the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night.
Prior to the game, Kirilenko signed autographs and also spoke to members of the media, reflecting on his time with the Jazz and in the NBA, as well as living in Salt Lake City.
"The greatest memories of my NBA career lie here in Utah," Kirilenko said, sporting a grin. "It's always been a great example for me here in the state of Utah — not only the basketball but off the court. It (gave) me a lot of my life principles. How to treat my family, how to be around the kids and how the people treat each other in the community. This particular thing is even more valuable for me than the basketball part. But from the basketball part, huge, huge memories starting from the Stockton-Malone era.
"All those memories along the way, you can't replace that and, of course, this time will stay forever with me."
When asked who he thought was the hardest player to guard in his NBA career, Kirilenko said Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and Kevin Durant. After getting recognized on the court, Bryant congratulated Kirilenko. After the game, Kirilenko greeted Bryant after the Lakers guard addressed the media. The two hugged and caught up for a few minutes outside the Lakers locker room.
"He's just so long and so lanky and extremely quick," Bryant said, of facing Kirilenko for more than a decade in the league. "He was a rare defensive player and a fantastic player. I thought his passing skills really helped the team here. Aside from his defensive ability, he was a great passer and I enjoyed seeing him out there."
Check out more reaction from Kirilenko in the video above.