The real appeal to Andrei Kirilenko was his guilelessness.
Back at ESA this week for the Timberwolves’ game against the Jazz, someone asked him if he felt nervous.
“A little bit,” he said. “Not really like nervous about the game, but an unusual feeling.”
Things didn’t always translate with A.K., but he always seemed sincere and honest.
He was also asked this week about the type of reception he thought he’d receive. Radio stations were speculating all day whether he’d get booed. I didn’t think so. Sure enough, during introductions it was all cheers. Not thunderous applause, but polite and significant.
“I don’t expect anything,” he said beforehand, when asked about what kind of reception he expected. “If people think they should cheer, they should cheer. If they feel the need to boo, they should boo. I know one thing: When I was here, I played hard, I tried my best. If some nights I didn’t play at that level, well, sorry.”
No need to apologize.
Kirilenko had his issues as a player.
As a person? None that I can think of.