And while we’re on the NBA and literary aspirations…. I love how it took a critical mass of foreign players to spur the first lockerroom book club… Look at the size of that paperback in his hands. I bet he could palm a hard cover.
Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz and his Ukranian teammate, Kyrylo Fesenko, don’t always get along. In fact, they can often be heard screaming at each other in the locker room.
But the nature of these arguments isn’t what you’d expect from a pair of millionaire athletes: Their fights usually center around the boxloads of science-fiction books and classic Russian novels Mr. Kirilenko’s family ships to him from Moscow. “It’s always, ‘who’s got the new one?’ and ‘why did you start that oneâ€”I’m supposed to finish it,’ ” Mr. Kirilenko says.
As the NBA prepares for Sunday’s All-Star Game, international players are becoming an increasingly prominent force on the court. The number of players born outside the U.S. who have cracked the top 40 in scoring and minutes played this season is more than double the number a decade ago. This season, foreign-born players have nabbed five of the top 15 spots on the NBA’s highest-paid list.
As their numbers grow, these players are also bringing a different sensibility to the locker room. While many of their American-born counterparts fill their down time with laptops, phones, DVD players, videogame consoles and iPods, these NBA imports like to kick it old school. They don’t just read books, they often read the sorts of weighty tomes you may not associate with professional athletes.