Andrei Kirilenko (209 cm) has been voted as the FIBA Europe Men’s Player of the Year for 2012. The Russian narrowly edged out Spaniard Pau Gasol in the voting with an accumulated ranking of 0.1728 to 0.1687. Votes are tallied via a combination of fan votes and experts’ votes. Kirilenko previously won this award in 2007.
Kirilenko opted to go back and play in Russia for CSKA Moscow during the 2011-12 NBA lockout. Prior to his interlude into European basketball, Kirilenko enjoyed a long stint with the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately, his last couple of seasons with the team were showing a decline in his performance. A change in scenery must have been what the doctor ordered as it turned out to be therapeutic for Kirilenko who looked rejuvenated as he helped his team crush their opponents that season. He led CSKA to both a domestic league and to a VTB league championship, while helping them reach the EuroLeague finals. He was named the EuroLeague MVP.
Known as AK-47 in NBA circles, Kirilenko returned to the league in the 2012-13 season to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was supposed to be the swingman cum “Swiss knife” to complement talented forward-center Kevin Love (208 cm, UCLA’08) and frenetic Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio (192 cm). Unfortunately for the T-Wolves Ricky Rubio missed the early part of the season as he recovered from a torn ACL in the previous season and Love broke his shooting hand and was forced to miss several weeks of action. With the team’s key stars being out due to injuries, Andrei Kirilenko began a campaign to play some of his best basketball since 2004-05. Prior to his being recently sidelined with a strained quadricep, Kirilenko was averaging 13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, and 3.0 apg for Minnesota.
“Andrei is a deserving winner of this award. It is a mark of the man that he has been able to retain his high-intensity throughout the year in a number of competitions,”
said FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson.