Most of the players who have signed with club teams overseas during the lockout have entered unknown territory. For every European who returns to his homeland, there's a new Nugget who ventures to China for a season-long adventure.
Yet those Europeans still exist, and it's easy to see their returns to their countries of birth as the converse of an American's trip to another country: They are leaving a peculiar work environment for a more familiar one. As such, they may celebrate in ways we do not understand.
Keep that in mind as you look at the photo above. As reported by Brian T. Smith for the Salt Lake Tribune, Andrei Kirilenko signed a three-year deal (including an out clause if/when the lockout ends) with the Russian club CSKA Moscow. So, as befits a man nicknamed "AK-47," Kirilenko naturally celebrated by posing with the assault rifle itself (photo via @monilogue). Because that is apparently totally fine in Russia.
In fact, it appears that CSKA president Andrei Vatutin brought the gun himself. It's a clever joke, yet also the kind of thing we'd never see in an American arena. Much of this country loves guns, but we typically frown upon bringing them to work. Just ask Gilbert Arenas.
However, there is something to learn from CSKA when it comes to capitalizing on a player's nickname for publicity. The next time the Lakers hold a press conference for Kobe Bryant, why not loose a few black mambas in the audience? Sure, they may be the deadliest snakes in the world, but there's no reason that should spoil the fun.
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- Andrei Kirilenko