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Teammates, competitors, friends - Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko

Deron Williams

It's not just about the Russian connection.

For the better part of five years, Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko were, along with Carlos Boozer, the cornerstones of the Utah Jazz and even since D-Will was traded and AK-47 moved on, the two have remained friends, visiting each other's homes on different countries, cheering each other on. Now, they are back together.

We don't know what role Williams had in recruiting Kirilenko for less than market value, but we do know they have been and still are close friends. Here's some of what we know about the relationship following their very productive on-court relationship from 2003 to 2008.

In May 2011, D-Will and his wife flew to Istanbul to watch Kirilenko in the Euroleague Finals, where CSKA Moscow lost an 18-point lead and the championship. The two couples then flew to Moscow by private jet for a Russian vacation together. They had a good time together, as noted here.

Then, the two faced off as competitors in the London Olympics, with D-WIll wining the gold in mens basketball and AK the bronze. They found each other on the infield of London's Olympic Stadium following opening ceremonies and posed for pictures. The two couples had some time together there as well. Then, just last month, the Kirilenkos were the guests of the Williams in New York. They made no secret about it, posting an image of them together in the city. Perhaps the recruiting began then.

The two's relationship was most evident in an Instagram posting late Thursday when D-Will wrote, "Can't wait to have @ak47wolf and @mashalopatova back with us #hellobrooklyn #brooklynnets" The accompanying image was a PhotoShopped picture of Kirilenko in a Nets uniform.