Andrei Kirilenko, whose short Nets career began with such hope but ended with him being traded to Philadelphia, is the new president of the troubled Russian Basketball Federation. Kirilenko is generally seen as the best hoops talent Russia has ever produced.
The vote was unanimous and hopefully ends a particularly embarrassing period for Russian basketball. Kirilenko takes over an organization in crisis after it was suspended in July by international governing body FIBA following years of infighting and legal battles, which led to the result of the last federation elections being overturned.
Kirilenko won the job by unanimous vote after his sole opponent dropped out. He reportedly had the support of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. AK47 faced an underground campaign that noted he and his family had become dual citizen of Russia and the U.S. while playing in Utah. Kirilenko responded that he was born Russian and remains Russian.
He faces two big issues, the most pressing being the Russian National Team's fortunes. With none of its top stars -- including the Nets' Sergey Karasev -- either unable or unwilling to play, the team has been embarrassed thus far in friendly games this summer. After winning the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics, it's unlikely to qualify for Rio next summer. The other is a dramatic drop in fandom, with basketball now sixth or seventh most popular.
Kirilenko has brought a number of current and ex-players into senior federation roles, including ex-Portland Trail Blazers forward Viktor Khryapa, who still plays in Russia, plus former WNBA players Ilona Korstin and Svetlana Abrosimov. Kirilenko is also close to the Russian Basketball League commissioner, Sergey Kushchenko, Prokhorov's sports adviser and a member of the Nets board.
- Andrei Kirilenko elected president of Russian Basketball - Sports Illustrated
- Nets owner praises Kirilenko, now head of Russian basketball - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
- Ex-Nets forward Kirilenko elected head of Russian basketball - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News