Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Alexey Shved is getting a ton of help in his transition to the NBA from fellow Russian player Andrei Kirilenko.Kirilenko has been in the league for 10 years, and he’s acting as a mentor to Shved as he moves from Moscow to Minneapolis, especially when it comes to off-the-court issues. Here’s what Kirilenko said about the “little things” in an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
“In Russia, if the police stop you, you can give him five dollars and say, ‘I’m sorry’ and keep going,” Kirilenko joked. “Here you cannot do that. So, the little things, it’s different.”
As absurd as it sounds, culture shock is a real issue an international sports like soccer and, increasingly, basketball.
In Soccernomics, a fantastic analytics-based soccer book, author Simon Kuper argues the lack of robust relocation services in European soccer is “one of the biggest inefficiencies” in the sport, and has lead to players under performing on the field, especially if they didn’t speak the native language.
The Timberwolves made a smart move in bringing in Kirilenko. Not only does he help them on the court, but he will be a valuable resource for a young 23-year-old who would have otherwise been on his own in a new country.
Shved could have probably figured out that he couldn’t bribe US traffic cops, but learning more nuanced cultural differences will undoubtedly be helped by Kirilenko.
Here’s a first look at Shved in a T-Wolves uniform:
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