Andrei Kirilenko became just the third player to have won the FIBA Europe Player of the Year away two times (2007 and 2012), behind Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol. However as the player confessed in an interview he would rather see the award going to the hands of other players. Read the full interview.
The following interview was conducted by Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express.ru
Andrei, it’s probably old news to you by now, but please accept by congratulations on winning the FIBA Europe Player of the Year Award.
Thank you, but as you said it’s old news, I have known about this for several weeks now.
Maybe you mean the unofficial Euroscar award given by Gazzetta dello Sport?
Really? Well, that’s news to me. Thank you for letting me know.
You had quite the competition to face, as Gasol brothers, Vasilis Spanoulis, Tony Parker, Goran Dragic, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat, Omer Asik and your teammate Nikola Pekovic were all in the race for the award. Do you think the decision was fair?
I have said it many times: determining the best invidividual in a team sport, where thousands of players compete on the highest level, is not easy. How can one compare me to Pau Gasol? Or to Parker, Nowitzki and Spanoulis? All this is very subjective. However I won’t hide the fact that I’m flattered. Moreso by the fact that I was elected by both fans and experts.
You were given the award eventhough your teams won nothing. CSKA Moscow lost in Euroleague final while the Russian NT won the bronze medal in London 2012. Paradox?
This is not so important as the choice of a best player is a combination of many factors.
Is the Euroleague MVP award one of those factors?
Definitely. There were many positives things for me last season. As were for many others too. But I guess there were more for me. Overall I am satisfied with the way last season went on. CSKA did well until the Euroleague final. Would be better, had we won the final. Believe me, we all wanted it very much. And losing to Olympiacos in the last second leave a bitter aftertaste. Bue every experience, even a negative one, is useful. However the bronze medal at the Olympics is an undoubtful success of entire Russian basketball.
If you were asked to name the best basketball player in Europe in 2012, who would you choose?
I would choose three. Spanoulis, Parker and (Pau) Gasol. Spanoulis lead Olympiacos the entire season, taking them into the final which they won. Although to be honest, he couldn’t take Greece into the Olympics. Parker, in my opinion, is the most underrated player, whom I consider the best point guard in the world. Just see San Antonio Spurs: their stars Duncan and Ginobili are injured, but he continues leading his team to easy wins. And the silver medal France won in the previous Eurobasket was entirely thanks to him. So, comparing to other super-stars, Tony Parker gets much less coverage. Even when he won the NBA Finals MVP award, FIBA Europe decided to ignore him for some reason.
You got your first FIBA Europe Player of the Year Award back in 2007. Could you compare that one with your latest one? Which was, perhaps, the more deserved one?
I can’t compare. The voting is not up to me. 2007 featured an amazing Eurobasket for the National Team. Plus a great season with the Utah Jazz in NBA, but not the best personal season. Last season was a success both on club and national team level. I cherish both awards.
Which medal is more valuable? The gold Eurobasket one or the bronze Olympics one?
I think they have about the same value. However personally the Olympic bronze has the edge. Because I consider the Olympics as the crown in the career of every athlete. If I had to choose between an NBA ring and an Olympic gold, I’d choose the latter, eventhough winning an NBA ring is tougher. To win one you must play about 100 games.
This FIBA Europe award has been around only for 8 years. In the span only Nowitzki, Gasol and you have won it twice. Would you say that the three of you are symbols of European basketball in the early 21st century?
I would add a fourth one, Parker. But even this is subjective. The four of us have a huge advantage: we play in the NBA and get huge coverage. While there are a bunch of players who shine in Europe, year in year out: Spanoulis, Diamantidis, Khryapa. The level in Europe is also very high, but not as high as NBA. Some players are made for European style game, where it can sometimes get harder to play than overseas. I am sure that if all NBA stars moved to the Old World, they would struggle to achieve the same recognition as they have here.
Source: Pavel Osipov, Sport-Express.ru