Archives For Player Interviews

We’re kicking off our offseason coverage here at A Wolf Among Wolves with a comprehensive roster review of the team from this past season, looking at how each player’s 2012-13 went and what we see for them going forward. One player a day for the next couple weeks, starting with the bench and rolling up to the starters.

We do ridiculous things when we are 22 years old. We climb trees and then fall out of them. We smash things we find on the street. We punch the pavement. We (“we”) make awful choices and then write long, agonized, hand-written letters explaining/apologizing for/recanting those choices. We are newly birthed into the adult world but still soaked in a purply, emo brain-haze, a volatile emotional soup that spikes the adrenaline and clouds the judgement.

Remember, now, that despite his many years of playing professional basketball as a teen, despite his experience leading his countrymen against the best basketball players in the world, Ricky Rubio is this very age. And its not just Rubio’s bio that misdirects us. He possesses a set of seemingly native-born skills that generally belong to much more seasoned players. His total court-vision, his almost physiological feel for movement and spacing–these are things that are usually acquired only after a decade or so of apprenticeship. Even when he was just a very skinny boy with floppy hair he was able to perform feats that, while not adult exactly (more like sylph-like or even transcendent) certainly belied his age.

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Earlier this week, I posted a profile of Andrei Kirilenko over on HoopSpeak, but there was plenty of stuff that didn’t make it into the post, so I’m posting the full transcript of Kirilenko’s side of the conversation here. He talks some more about his reading habits, who he looked up to as a young player and also sheds some light on Rubio’s development from his perspective. Continue Reading…


I spoke with Andrei Kirilenko this past Friday about how he got started playing basketball, the ins and outs of his approach to the game, and his reading habits. It’s posted here thanks to our friends at HoopSpeak.

Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko

Photo by Steve McPherson

Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved sat down with Kirilenko very much in the driver’s seat. Shved mostly hung back, responding only when addressed directly and looking a little sheepish. Kirilenko seems convinced he’ll speak most loudly with his game.

  1. steventurous
    Kirilenko on Shved: “I don’t like to give advice. I think everyone is a grown man.”
    Mon, Oct 01 2012 10:35:18
  2. It was clear from the moment they came in and sat down that Kirilenko is very much playing the big brother role to Shved. Although he said he wasn’t going to help him out, Kirilenko helped Shved to translate his thoughts into English. Shved said he had no trouble understanding English, but has difficulty with speaking it. His quotes bear that out, although he’s certainly not a disaster.
  3. steventurous
    Shved and Kirilenko meeting the media.
    Mon, Oct 01 2012 10:36:07
  4. steventurous
    “Adelman’s system is very good for me.” –Kirilenko
    Mon, Oct 01 2012 10:36:37
  5. In some ways, this would almost indicate to me that Kirilenko envisions spending a good amount of time at the four as well as the three, since Adelman’s system involves big men making cuts and hitting cutters. These are both things that Kirilenko can do, and he expressed admiration for watching Adelman’s system work over the years while he was playing in Utah.
  6. steventurous
    Kirilenko: “All English I learned in the locker room my first year.” Confident Shved will pick it up.
    Mon, Oct 01 2012 10:37:56
  7. Kirilenko was basically saying that he never had any formal one-on-one tutoring in English. It certainly seems like Shved is at the level where he will begin to pick it up quickly once he’s immersed in it. Certainly, Kirilenko will ease that transition.
  8. steventurous
    Kirilenko: “Love has made the jump from being just a very good player to being a franchise player.”
    Mon, Oct 01 2012 10:39:31
  9. It was good to hear the kind of belief players like Kirilenko have in Love and his abilities. It certainly seems like they’ve assembled a group of guys who respect Love but also expect him to lead the team vocally and by example. I guess we’ll find out how that goes with vets like Kirilenko and Roy as the season progresses. If things start well, I think it could go very well. If they don’t … well, we’ll see.
  10. steventurous
    Kirilenko: “You can’t guard the superstars in this league one on one. You have to help each other and build a team defensive philosophy.”
    Mon, Oct 01 2012 10:40:43
  11. I always like when players simply admit something we all know without being hung up on how it sounds. Clearly, if you’re talking about Durant and James, defending them is not up to any individual player. Everyone on the team has to make the rotations and know where to be. This echoes Adelman’s statement that although the team has defensive deficiencies, he’s hopeful that they’ll play good team defense.
  12. steventurous
    Kirilenko says he signed a picture of Shved holding up a Kirilenko jersey when Shved was 12, but doesn’t remember it.
    Mon, Oct 01 2012 10:42:32
  13. This was the funniest part of the presser. Kirilenko initially said it was a picture of Shved when he was seven or eight, but Shved interrupted him to say he was twelve. Kirilenko responded, “Well, you looked really young in that picture.”
  14. steventurous
    Kirilenko: “Russians are going to invade the United States.”
    Mon, Oct 01 2012 10:43:01
  15. Kirilenko tossed this out as he and Shved were getting up to leave. Sarah Palin, you’ve been put on blast.

My interview with Kevin Love was another treasure trove that I couldn’t really find a place for. Picture: an insanely cold day. Me drinking tea at the Starbucks across from the Target Center. A very tall man sitting across from me at an embarrassingly small table answering my questions–about his role on the team, his relationship with Kurt Rambis and the entire controversy over his minutes–with candor and good humor. I appreciate that.

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While my partner was gathering details on the resurgence of SuperCoolBeas from Wolves assistant coaches, I spent a few minutes with the man himself. I’ve done my fair share of interviews over the past few years and Beas’ playful candor is as refreshing as anyone I’ve encountered…

You’re obviously scoring in bunches lately. Last year you played one the league’s slowest paces with Miami and now you’re a part of the league’s fastest pace here in Minnesota. Is this tempo more suitable for you?

I’m just playing my game. Everybody keeps asking me where this is coming from, where I’m getting this boost. It’s just me. It ‘aint nothing new. I’ve been doing this my whole life.

There’s been a lot of talk that your numbers are bound to drop and personally, I’m not so sure…

That’s what I’m saying. This is how I play basketball.

I’m trying to fight the good fight for you though.

I feel you, but everybody keeps talking about my recent play. Let’s talk about the Timberwolves and how we’re 3-2 over our last five games. Let’s talk about something that really means something. Whether I score or not is not as important as the team winning.

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