Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz has been named the European Men’s Basketball Player of the Year after leading his native Russia to the 2007 EuroBasket Gold medal. The international governing body of basketball really had no other choice did they?
“It is a big honor,” said Kirilenko, who won a vote of both fans and a panel of basketball experts, media and coaches from 25 different countries. “But I think it’s an honor for our team in EuroBasket 2007.
“Nobody even (counted on) us and (they) deemed us underdogs,” added Kirilenko, who averaged 18 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals and nearly two blocks per game in the tournament. “But we won the whole thing.”
After having such a horrific season last year with the Jazz, this award should feel pretty good. His season ended with trade rumors and demands across the board and the EuroBasket event turned out to be quite the venting machine AK-47 needed.
His role has been defined this year with Utah, and Kirilenko has been instrumental in the early success of the team. The Jazz will enter the All-Star break as one of the hottest teams in the entire league and you can give a ton of credit to your Euro-baller of the year.
Last year’s winner, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, finished second, followed by Toronto’s Jose Calderon of EuroBasket silver-medalist Spain, San Antonio’s Tony Parker of France, and Lithuanian Ramunas Siskauskas of CSKA Moscow.