Friday, November 1, 2013

Andrei Kirilenko: LeBron isn't ‘the toughest’ to guard

After 11 seasons as one of the NBA's top defenders, Andrei Kirilenko is no stranger to covering some of league's premier wing scorers.

The 6-foot-9 forward with the eight-foot wingspan is set to make his Brooklyn Nets debut Friday night in the team’s home opener against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. When Kirilenko was asked whether LeBron James is the toughest player he has ever been asked to face, Mikhail Prokhorov's favorite Russian had a Cold War reviving answer about the Heat star.

“He’s definitely one of those guys who is tough to guard,” Kirilenko told the N.Y. Post. “I wouldn’t say he’s the toughest to guard 1-on-1, but he’s definitely in that category.”

So, if not James, then who?

“For me, personally? I would say Kevin Durant and Kobe [Bryant], because they’re very motivated to play with the ball,” Kirilenko explained. “LeBron is way unselfish, and he will pass it as soon as the guy is open.

“Kevin and Kobe, unless the guy is wide open, like wide open and ready to shoot, they will keep going at you. They’ll keep going at you. That’s why it makes it harder to play against those guys.”

Kirilenko, who has been dealing with back spasms since playing in the second preseason game against Detroit on Oct. 12, went through a complete workout Thursday during practice and said he should be ready to go Friday night at Barclays Center.

“I got the green light, so slowly we’ll start to get into games,” he said.

“I’m planning to play. I’m not sure about how many minutes I’m going to play, but I’m definitely worth a try.”

LeBron will be the first to test those minutes.

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