Andrei Kirilenko started playing professional basketball at a young age. He would then go on to pursue a career in the NBA. Known for his defensive capabilities, Kirilenko had success as an NBA player.
After his playing career was over, Kirilenko decided to return to Russia and serve in a significant role for the Russian Basketball Federation.
Andrei Kirilenko’s NBA career
In Russia, Kirilenko was a well-known basketball player at a young age. In 1997, he became the youngest player ever to compete in the Russian Super League. Two years later, at the age of 18, Kirilenko was the youngest foreign player at the time to be drafted in the NBA. The Utah Jazz selected him with the No. 24 pick in the first round.
Kirilenko would not make his NBA debut with the Jazz until 2001. In his rookie season, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. That season he averaged 10.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Kirilenko emerged as one of the top young players in the NBA. In 2004 he was selected to his only all-star game, and that season he would go on to average the most points in his career at 16.5 points per game. That same season he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
Spending the majority of his career in Utah, Kirilenko became the Jazz top defender and one of the best defenders around the league. He played on numerous Jazz teams that made it to the playoffs and were one of the top teams in the Western Conference. His last season with the Jazz was in 2011, and after spending time in Utah, he went to Russia during the NBA lockout.
Kirilenko returned to the NBA during 2012-13 playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he would finish his career playing for the Brooklyn Nets. He completed his NBA career averaging 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
Basketball Commissioner in Russia
As a teenager, Kirilenko was playing for the basketball league in Russia, and after his playing career finished, he found himself back in Russia in a different role. He became the face of the Russian Basketball Federation as the organization’s commissioner.
Though Kirilenko has the same job title as Adam Silver, his roles are much different. He’s in charge of managing the people who referee the games and also makes sure that the relationship with the government is good and consistent. Kirilenko does it all for the Russian Basketball Federation. “It’s a lot of work, and there’s a lot of challenges,” Kirilenko said about his job title.
In 2017, Kirilenko was in charge of running two Russian national teams for the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket tournament with aspirations of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Kirilenko continues to impact the game of basketball
Kirilenko did not take any time off after his playing career finished. He knew he could have an impact in Russia, and he knew that he could continue to be involved in the game. It’s a lot of work being a basketball commissioner, but Kirilenko has been up for the challenge.
The three-time All-NBA defensive selection used his experience and knowledge from the NBA and took that with him when he became the basketball commissioner. He will continue to have an impact on the game of basketball in Russia.