Andrei Kirilenko is all-in on Nets' Russia connection

Tatiana Kutrueva

At last week's reception for Russian businessmen (prospective sponsors) in Moscow, Andrei Kirilenko was everywhere. He mingled with the crowd, nattily dressed in a suit and tie; he was on the dias taking questions about the upcoming season and in promotional graphics shown on large screens scattered about the ONEXIM reception hall. He later showed up at an adidas store in Moscow where a new line of AK-47 t-shirts were unpacked. His wife, Masha, has dotted Instagram with pictures of her and their kids in black-and-white.

For a guy with only only a two-year deal --the second year a player option-- Kirilenko has been remarkably committed to the team's drive to sell the Nets on a global scale as well as in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.  The Nets had thought a Russian owner would increase interest in the team and to a certain extent it did, but the team often heard the lament in Moscow and Brooklyn, "If only you had a Russian player."  Now they do and now just any player, but one of the best, if not the best, in Russian history.

As Irina Pavlova told the audience at last Thursday's event, where waiters were dressed in Nets gear, "We often talked with the leaders of NBA about how the team lacked a Russian player. And we're delighted that Andrei will now wear the black-and-white uniform. Many Russians are going to come to our games now. We were all waiting for you! ".

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