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Andrei Kirilenko's Russian Olympic team isn't dominating at all. After a week of calling his cell phone and trying to work through the Russian Olympic office, I finally caught up with AK after his team's tough loss to Lithuania last night. What a difference a year makes!
After saying he wanted out last summer, everything's A-OK with AK now. "Well, it's definitely fun. It's tough, but it's fun." AK's first words to us were a shout out to owner Larry Miller. "I wanna wish Larry stay healthy, you know. I heard there are things going on. You know, we have the team praying for him. We need him, we need that, our biggest fan in that first row. And he is a great man, a great person," he said.
Kirilenko is clearly relaxed and enjoying his Olympic experience, especially carrying his nation's flag in the opening ceremonies. "So it's definitely a huge honor, not for me only, but for my family and also for all of Russian basketball. I was excited, you know, first time I made my step in the stadium, and there were like 100,000 people screaming and yelling ... You know, it's a huge deal," he said.
Speaking of big deals, Kirilenko is happy Deron Williams got his. "He deserves it. You know, last year was really all-star season for him. He made the U.S. Olympic team. He's really a huge part of the Olympic team here. And you know, he's start blossoming and blossoming," he said.
And when we told him Boozer's likely going to opt out of his contract after next season, but could re-sign with the Jazz, AK said, "He's definitely a huge part of our team. He's definitely a great person, you know, he's my close friend. I wish him to stay with me and play with me as long as he can. But you know, it's a business, like you said, and he needs to make a decision which is best for him and his family."
Kirilenko says he'll turn his mind back to the NBA season and the Utah Jazz as soon as the Olympics are over. That could be soon for him. The Russian team is one and two right now, desperately trying to get into the medal round next week.