Former Utah Jazz, now Minnesota Timberwolves’ forward, Andrei Kirilenko, has announced that he will not participate in the upcoming Eurobasket qualifying tournament for the FIBA basketball world cup and will he will not play for the next four years citing family reasons.
According to FIBA, the Russian Basketball Federation president, Alexander Krasenkov and Kirilenko sat down after the NBA all-star weekend break, and discussed the future of the team and whether or not Kirilenko will commit, with the end result being he won’t.
Kirilenko said it was an honour playing for the national team for 12 years. Via FIBA.
“I have made the decision, though to be honest it wasn’t easy,” Kirilenko said in the RBF statement.
“Playing for honor and a responsibility all these years, I was proud to be part of the team.”
As well, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, Kirlilenko said he was retiring because he wanted to spend more quality time with his family and be a better father figure to his children as they grow up.
And on stepping away from the Russian national team after leading it to an Olympic bronze medal last summer in London…
“It’s not connected to playing time, I’m not tired, I’m not tired of playing for the national team,” he said. “I want to be a better dad. I want to be with my family a little more. I think I already give a lot, play 12 years on the national team. There is time.”
He said he has thought about this decision for the last two, three years but got serious about making it after the Olympics.
“I was thinking in summertime I don’t have enough time with my kids,” he said. “My wife and kids, I want to be around them. I don’t want to be dad who’s spending two hours and then you don’t see your kids. It’s a hard decision.
“It’s kind of a dilemma: Going around the globe, playing basketball, have fun or spend your time with your kids and have fun and see how they’re growing. You want to be around them at this kind of age when they’re growing, they start playing hockey, start playing basketball. You want to see the improvement, not only in sports but the person.
During last summer’s London 2012 Olympics, Kirilenko alongside Timberwolves’ teammate, Alexey Shved, took home the bronze medal in a match against Team Argentina consisting of Manu Ginobli, Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino, Andres Nocioni and Pablo Prigioni with a final score 81-77.
Kirilenko concluded by saying he received an open invitation to return by the Russian basketball federation president if he does decide to change his mind.
“He asked me, `Wait a second, take this year, look how it’s going to go, if you like it, you stay out, but if you feel like you’re not ready, you still want to be with national team, we welcome you,’ “ Kirilenko said. “So far, I feel like I want to be done, but it’s always good to have that open invitation.”