Kirilenko retires from Russian national side … for now

Andrei Kirilenko, a bronze-medalist with Russia at the London Olympics last year has decided to retire from international basketball.

Despite announcing his retirement though, he is open for returning after this summer’s Eurobasket. Kirilenko put his reason for retirement down to family reasons and general fatigue.

I explained my position and told him [Russian Basketball President Aleksander Krasnenkov] that I had seriously considered and decided upon my retirement from the national team,” Kirilenko told Russian sports website Sport-Express.ru

“Krasnenkov asked me one thing, to not make this a definite decision, apply it only to the upcoming Eurobasket, and return to the subject of the national team in one or two years’ time.

“The reason [for the decision] is fatigue. I’ve thought a lot about this and have consulted many people – mainly my family and friends. The busy NBA season means I spend too much time away from my family, it takes away a minimum of six-and-a-half months a year.”

This is Kirilenko’s first season back in the NBA after spending last year with CSKA Moscow and he admits that grueling schedule is taking its toll on his family and especially his children.

I want to be the best father I can be and be more involved in the lives of my children,” the 32-year-old forward explained.

“I want to see them grow and not be limited to telling them bed time stories when I go home at 10 or 11 at night and they are not asleep, waiting for me. I’m not ready to spend most of the summer with the [national] team, rather with my family.

“If it was possible to combine the two, I would certainly do it. Before, we had been able to find some sort of compromise and it’s happened that my wife and children were at training camp with me. But I cannot, and should not, bring them along again. They have their own schedule too, which I should adapt.”

News of Kirilenko’s seemingly temporary retirement will come as a major blow to new Russia coach Fotis Katsikaris as he prepares the Eurobasket 2011 bronze-medalists for Slovenia.