Wednesday night the Utah Jazz host the Minnesota Timberwolves which marks the first return of Andrei Kirilenko since he left the team after the 2010-2011 season. After a stop in Russia he’s now making $10 million for the Twolves. Thus far this season he’s averaging 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds. In his 10 years with the Jazz he average 12.4 points 5.6 rebounds.
The big question is what kind of reception will Kirilenko get at the Energy Solutions Arena. Utah Jazz owner Greg Miller is encouraging fans to be thankful:
Attending the Jazz game tonight? I invite you to join me with warm applause in thanking Andrei for the yrs of play he gave us.#sportsmanship
— Greg Miller (@GregInUtah) January 2, 2013
While I think some will welcome him back with applause you will have a contingent of fans that will boo him choosing instead to remember how he never lived up to his six year $86 million max deal he received from deceased owner Larry Miller. I think fans should react any way they see fit. While I can’t blame AK for getting the money, you can definitely make a case that he didn’t fully do everything in his power to live up to it. That was evident for his continuing pouting to get the ball more and be an integral part of the offense even though he was the fourth or fifth best option on the floor, to being prone to injury over his career, to just flat out crying when he wasn’t playing enough in the 2007 Houston playoff series.
If I’m guessing the reaction will be mixed. However, if he’s as mentally weak now than when he was with the Jazz they may want to get into his head by booing.