The latest version of The Kyle Zone sees Kyle Hines host his former foe and teammate, 2012 EuroLeague MVP Andrei Kirilenko. Pull on some headphones and hear Kirilenko reveal the origins of his nickname, AK47, and review the highlights of his career, which include signing his first professional contract with Spartak St. Petersburg, moving to CSKA Moscow, playing in the NBA All-Star Game, and being Russia's flag bearer at the Olympic Games.
The Kyle Zone is part of Euroleague Basketball Podcasts, joining The Crossover with Joe Arlauckas to let fans go in-depth with the protagonists of Europe's top pro basketball competition. The Kyle Zone is broadcast on iTunes, Audioboom, Spotify, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn and other platforms.
"To be honest, it was an easy decision," Kirilenko said of returning home to play for CSKA in the summer of 2011. "I decided for half a year I wanted to play in Russia, I wanted to play for my fans, I wanted to play when I'm still in prime time, feel good. I signed a contract with CSKA, which was my last club in Russia. I had a tremendous time with a great team. And from a chemistry standpoint, you could feel right away something clicked."
Kirilenko came from humble beginnings and was hungry as a player when he signed his first contract, which he used to help his family.
"The first time I got my salary, I came home and I had like $1,500 dollars in my pocket and my family combined made like $600. I brought it home and I'm like, 'Guys, right here!'" Kirilenko recalled. "My family was not a wealthy family. Any money I could bring was very valuable, very needed for the family. I remember with the first salary, we bought a TV, with the second salary we bought like a washing machine."
Before their chat ended, Kirilenko left these words of advice to the next generation of both athletes and young kids in general.
"Talent is good, but how much work you put, that's what you're going to get at the end of the day," Kirilenko said. "It doesn't matter what you do, do it the right way with 100% concentration. That goes not only for basketball players, it goes for everybody, working in a newspaper, working at a grocery store. If you are doing something 100%, believe me, you are going to go up. You are going to progress. Your coach or your boss will notice."