Kirilenko Honored With Euroscar European Player of the Year Award
Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko was awarded the Euroscar European Player of the Year Award and will receive the award in a pregame ceremony before the Wolves’ matchup with San Antonio tonight at Target Center.
Kirilenko, now in his 11th year in the league, won the Euroscar award for the first time in his career. It is presented by the Italian Newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, to the best European basketball player regardless of where he plays in the world.
He joins an impressive group of players to receive the award, including six-time winners Dirk Nowitzki and Arvydas Sabonis, five-time winner Toni Kukoc, four-time winner Drazen Petrovic and three-time winner Pau Gasol. This is the 34th time the award was given out.
“It's very nice to have, but basketball is a team sport,” Kirilenko said. “It's a team effort. It's nice to have. There are a lot of guys who deserve it as well, a lot of good awards, but it's nice to have.”
Last season, Kirilenko played for CSKA Moscow in his native Russia while uncertainty surrounded the lockout-shortened NBA season. During his time in Russia, he averaged 14.1 points per game, shot 59 percent from the floor, corralled 7.5 rebounds and was named the 2012 Euroleague MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.
Returning to the NBA, he’s played like he hasn’t missed a beat. Though he’s injured tonight with a strained right quad, Kirilenko has been a rock for Minnesota this season. He’s played in all but four of the team’s games, he’s boasting his best points (13.3) and rebounds (6.3) per game since 2006, and he’s been a pivotal piece in making plays that don’t show up on the stats sheet.
Kirilenko continues to be a leader by example every night he’s on the floor. Still, for him, it’s the players who are around him that helped him earn the Euroscar Award.
“All I can say is that I had that previous season with the Russian National Team and the Olympics and the Russian team last year in the Euroleague,” Kirilenko said. “I guess it's a tribute to all the teams we had last year. Different players played on different teams. I think Tony Parker had a great season, Pau had a great season last year with the national team, but it's nice to have.”
Now, the next step is translating that individual honor into team success. Kirilenko said that’s the most important thing to him.
“. It means you did a good job,” Kirilenko said. “But it's all indication that teammwork, because we got a bronze medal with the national team, those results are how we did. We did a pretty good job during the season.”