Andrei Kirilenko (athlete)

From Academic Kids

Andrei Kirilenko (Андрей Кириле́нко; born February 18, 1981) is a forward for the Utah Jazz team in the National Basketball Association.

He was born in the Siberian city of Izhevsk, which was briefly renamed for former Soviet Union defense minister Dimitri Ustinov, but grew up in Saint Petersburg, Russia. His wife Marina, a singer, is the daughter of Andrei Lapatov, who spent fourteen years on the Russian national basketball team.

On January 18, 1997, Andrei Kirilenko became the youngest player ever to compete in the Russian Superleague, scoring three points for his hometown Spartak Saint Petersburg against Spartak Moscow. After spending two seasons with Spartak Saint Petersburg, he joined CSKA Moscow in 1998. In his first season, he helped his new team win the Russian Superleague championship. He was also selected to participate in the Russian All-Star game, helping the West beat the East 138-107 and winning the slam dunk contest.

On June 30, 1999, at 18 years, 4 months, and 12 days, Kirilenko became the youngest European player at the time to be drafted in the NBA, when the Utah Jazz selected him with the 24th pick. However, he remained with CSKA Moscow for the next two seasons. In the 1999-2000 season, he helped his team win the inaugural championship of the Northern European Basketball League and its second Russian Superleague championship in a row. On April 23, 2000, he participated in his second Russian All-Star game, helping the West beat the East 122-111. Despite being the odds-on favorite to win the slam dunk contest, he finished second to Harold Dean of Lokomotiv Mineralnye Vody.

Andrei Kirilenko participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of the Russian national basketball team, which finished 8th in the tournament. On February 8th, 2001, in his third season with CSKA Moscow, Kirilenko became the second player ever in the history of the Euroleague to record a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 steals against Lietuvos Rytas. He showed off his all-around skills in the European Championships, finishing in top ten in 7 out of 8 statistical categories.

Kirilenko joined the Utah Jazz in the 2001-2002 season. He has since emerged as one of the top young players in the NBA, and one of the league's top one-on-one defenders. He was selected to play as a reserve in the 2004 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles. In the 2003-2004 NBA season, he ranked third in the league in blocks and fourth in the league in steals, the first player in NBA history to rank in the top five in both categories. During the NBA offseason, Kirilenko plays for the Russian national basketball team.

Late in the 2004-2005 season against the Washington Wizards, Kirilenko sustained a broken wrist, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.

Kirilenko wears uniform #47 and is thus nicknamed AK-47 after the ubiquitous Russian machine gun.

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