Andrei Kirilenko’s stay in Brooklyn was brief — just 62 games (including playoffs) over two seasons. But his stay in basketball will last much longer. Kirilenko was officially named the president of the Russian Basketball Federation today, an expected move that puts the former NBA forward in charge of an unsettled organization.
From the Associated Press:
The former NBA All-Star — who only retired from playing in June — ran as a unity candidate and reformer, telling delegates “you are all my team” and pledging to confront “the very deep crisis of trust” in Russian basketball.
The first task facing Kirilenko is to repair relations with FIBA, which has said it is keen to lift Russia’s suspension once it sees evidence of reforms at the federation, and to help the Russian men’s national team prepare for Olympic qualification at next month’s European Championship.
Kirilenko also vowed to “attract more young (Russian) players to basketball,” which has also been a pressing issue for the NBA, one commissioner Adam Silver addressed at Barclays Center during February’s All-Star Weekend in Brooklyn.
“It kills me that we don’t have greater interest in Russia,” Silver said. “I traveled to the market. I’ve talked to Mr.Prokhorov about it, and I think it comes down to hard work, and we have to do a better job building our business in Russia.”
Being able to fit into any basketball system isn’t the same as fitting into organizational structures, and it remains to be seen what kind of job Kirilenko can do in a political position. But Kirilenko was already the face of Russian basketball; he both gives Russia a recognizable global face and a connection to the NBA & Mikhail Prokhorov, the NBA’s lone Russian owner.
The Telegraph — Kirilenko elected head of Russian basketball