Found January 02, 2013 on Fox Sports North:
MINNEAPOLIS It's where he learned to be a pro. It's where Jerry Sloan "created" him. It's where he has so many friends, so many acquaintances after 10 seasons that he thinks he might know everyone in the first 20 rows of the arena. It's where he learned English, "the bad words first, but then you're got that base, and you're playing around with it." It's where he learned the value of every game and every win, where in 2003-04, without John Stockton and Karl Malone, the Jazz missed the playoffs by one game. One game out of 82. Nine years later, he's still incredulous, and he knows it could happen again, this time to his new team up north. It's where Wednesday night, he'll do a double take as he walks in and enters the guest locker room. Andrei Kirilenko spent a decade with the Jazz, entering the league on a team with Stockton and Malone, coached by Sloan. He left Utah, with its new players and new coach, a free agent during the 2011 lockout, and after a season in Russia, he knew his chances to return were slim; his position, small forward, had been filled by Gordon Hayward. The Jazz had moved on. So has Kirilenko. Wednesday night will be their emotional reunion. "It's going to be a little bit special game," Kirilenko said. "It's really going to be, not overwhelming, but it's going to be nice to get that feeling." Kirilenko has a chance to reach two career milestones in Utah; he's six rebounds away from 4,000 and two steals from 1,000. He's playing like a younger version of himself, more the 25- or 26-year-old AK-47, not the 31-year-old. Utah fans should be familiar with his work, except now the former All-Star and All-Defensive first team member will be working against the Jazz, rather than for them. Kirilenko seemed excited to return, and he acknowledged Tuesday the emotions of the whole thing. There are no hard feelings between the two parties, he said, and maybe change was what everyone needed. "In Russia we say every seven years, you have to chance your work or change your place of work," Kirilenko said. "I don't know if it's true, but it is what it is." Ricky's back: Ricky Rubio remained behind in Minnesota while the team traveled to Utah and Denver, and he'll be getting treatment on his stiff back. Obviously, that's not the news anyone wanted to hear after the point guard sat out Saturday's game against Phoenix, but here's a friendly reminder that this shouldn't be a major or even impactful problem. Rubio's injury isn't serious, and coach Rick Adelman didn't even seem too surprised by it. He's been talking about the possibility of Rubio tweaking other things while overcompensating for his surgically repaired knee, and there's the added fact that just more than two weeks into his season, Rubio is still in training-camp mode, getting himself into shape. The most upsetting or difficult thing about the injury isn't about what the team is missing it's proved it can win without Rubio but rather about the consistency and rhythm that the point guard remains unable to build. He hasn't had a great game since his comeback, what with days off, soreness and the general difficulty of beginning one's season at the pace he's been forced to do so. Rubio did some limited work during Tuesday's practice, which was more than he was able to do Monday. There's no reason to believe at this point that he is guaranteed to miss more time than just these next two games, though the team will know a lot more once it returns from Denver after Thursday night's game. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES
DIREWOLF

Ricky Rubio out with back spasms

As he works himself back into game shape, the T'Wolves point guard has been experiencing back spasms that will prevent him from traveling with the team on a road trip.

Love leaves game early with finger injury

The season from hell continues for Kevin Love, but Thursday night didn't end quite as badly as did the power forward's last trip to Denver, when he suffered a concussion that ended his 2011-12 season.Love left Thursday's 101-97 win with a sprained finger on his right hand with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter. At the time, his team was down, 66-55, and he had logged...

Wolves' Love battling slump with hard work

MINNEAPOLIS As the clock ticked to zero on the Timberwolves' 111-107 win over Phoenix on Sunday, Kevin Love walked to the sideline and enveloped Shawn Respert in a hug. This wasn't just an "oh, hey, we won, let's hug" sort of embrace. That's hardly Love's style. It was a pointed move after the power forward finished the night with 23 points and 18...

Rubio to skip two-game trip with back spasms

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ricky Rubio will remain in Minneapolis this week while the Timberwolves play back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday against the Jazz and Nuggets.Rubio has not played since the team's Dec. 26 game against Houston. He began suffering from back spasms Friday, and though he attempted to play Saturday, he remained too stiff. The point guard did not practice Monday...

Report: Loud music gets Sprewell arrested

Former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Latrell Sprewell was arrested in Milwaukee on Monday, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Sprewell was arrested for disorderly conduct after police received multiple complaints about loud music. Sprewell was booked into a Milwaukee jail Monday afternoon, according to the newspaper. This is not his first bout with legal troubles...

Minnesota Timberwolves Forward Lazar Hayward Says He Has Seen ‘Spirit,’ But Has Not Talked to One Yet

When Lazar Hayward was growing up, he says he would “see some things,” but when he described them to his friends, their reaction was predictable. “Lazar, you might need some help.” The Minnesota Timberwolves forward has not let their skepticism dissuade him from trying to keep seeing those things — “spiritual things,” in his words — and while he was unsigned earlier...

'Spotlight: Ricky Rubio' debuts Thursday night

After Thursday night's Timberwolves-Nuggets game and the postgame show, at approximately 11 p.m., FOX Sports North will air the latest installment in the "Spotlight" series, a 30-minute episode entitled "Spotlight: Ricky Rubio." The episode charts Rubio's rise to fame, from his childhood in Spain and career overseas to his impact on the Timberwolves&...

Ricky Rubio Won’t Make 2-Game Road Trip

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio will not travel with the team for a two-game road trip to Utah and Denver this week because of back spasms. Adelman thinks some of Rubio’s back issues could be caused by him overcompensating for a knee that has not yet gotten back to full strength. via Yahoo! Sports

Love leaves Nuggets game with finger sprain

DENVER (AP) -- Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has left Minnesota's game against the Denver Nuggets after spraining a finger on his right hand in the third quarter. His return Thursday night was questionable. Love was sliding past a Nuggets player in the lane when he suddenly clutched at his hand and headed into the training room. Love had 12 points and 17 rebounds before departing...

Timberwolves 101, Nuggets 97

DENVER -- Jose Juan Barea came off the bench to score 17 points, Alexey Shved also had 17 points, and the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame the loss of Kevin Love to beat the Denver Nuggets 101-97 Thursday night. Love sat out the final 16 minutes after he sprained a finger on his right hand underneath the basket late in the third quarter. He left to have an X-ray but returned to...

Jazz 106, Timberwolves 84

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Jazz spoiled Andrei Kirilenko's return Wednesday night, beating their former player's Minnesota Timberwolves 106-84 at EnergySolutions Arena. Bench players Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter scored 17 and 15 points, respectively, to lead six Jazz players in double figures. That balanced effort helped Utah snap its three-game losing streak and improve...
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.