Andrei Kirilenko (47) dunks while on a fast break as a member of the Brooklyn Nets. He announced his retirement in June. Thus far, Kirilenko is the only candidate for Tuesday's election to become president of the Russian Basketball Federation. File photo by Rich Kane/UPI | License Photo
MOSCOW, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Former NBA Andrei Kirilenko may soon become the new president of the Russian Basketball Federation.
"I was raised playing Russian basketball and I've been playing basketball for about 27 years. I have finished my work as a player, but it's a great opportunity for me to continue and help basketball in Russia just in a different role as being a president, rather as a player on the floor," Kirelenko told Russia Today last week.
In late July, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) had suspended Russian national basketball teams from international competitions, based on internal politics within the Russian Basketball Federation (RFB). Yulia Anikeeva had been elected its president in August 2013, but the results of the vote were later contested and a court told the federation to hold new elections, which are set for Tuesday.
Kirilenko is the only candidate for the election thus far, though there is a late push to get national team general manager Dmitry Domani onto the ballot too, ESPN reported.
Since announcing his retirement in June, Kirilenko expressed a desire to refocus on the RFB, saying he designs to broaden the recruiting base for the national team by placing a greater emphasis on youth basketball. The Russian women's national team failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics while there is still no guarantee the men's team will make the games in Rio de Janiero.
"Sometimes politics gets in the way of sports, but if you take a look at all the games and competitions around, it's not the right way," he also told RT. "You remember the 1980 or the 1984 Olympics that it does not do any good when the strongest athletes cannot compete against each other – it shouldn't be like that."
Kirilenko, who played for the Utah Jazz and the Brooklyn Nets under Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, among other teams, has also underscored that philanthropy remains one of his main priorities in Russia.
"I started my charity work about three years ago and we have three different directions. We help kids in the hospitals, kids in the orphanages and we help [promote] sports [in] schools," he also told RT.