Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shareef Abdur-Rahim ends his NBA career

There was no grand spectacle upon the announcement that Shareef Abdur-Rahim retired yesterday, ending a 12 year career spent with 4 teams around the league. Much like his career, this story did not garner too much attention. It was kind of brushed aside with that hipster, sort of pretentious line made by so many regarding past-Hollywood superstars; "what, they're still alive??" (see Pauly Shore and Kathy Griffin for prime examples of annoying people to have actually capitalized on this and turned it into success).

But anyways I digress, back to the matter at hand...the story of Abdur-Rahim is really a tragic one, because honestly was there anyone out there that truly disliked the guy? Even as a Raptors fan I couldn't regardless of whether he smoked us on the court while leading the Vancouver Grizzlies - you really just had to turn to that other Big guy with the sloping haircut (although granted that was almost unfair as he really is a much easier target). Looking back at Shareef he always carried himself much the same way Chris Bosh has done with Toronto, with play that speaks for itself on the floor and a cool demeanor coupled with what appeared to be a genuine personality out of the game setting.

"He has had an exemplary career as a player and citizen," said Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations. "It is unfortunate for any productive career to be felled by injury. However, no one can ever doubt Shareef's effort, commitment or desire to excel."

And yet looking around it's hard to find much written about the guy - the Association can be a fickle beast that craves star attention, and with Abdur-Rahim bringing little of that to the table, it's hardly a surprise very few people even said "boo" with this news. He was a very talented player who just got shafted by the injury bug, sad to say it does happen even to the best of people out there.

"I came to grips with the fact that, health-wise, I won't be able to get back to the condition and level that is needed to play in the NBA," Abdur-Rahim said. "My right knee has become arthritic over the years, and is to the point where it won't allow me do the things and play at the level at which I'm accustomed to playing. As tough as it is to come to grips with, it's the reality."

I did find a brief blog write-up in the Dallas Morning News taking this story past the mere reporting stage:

But the point of this is to show that there are many reasons why potential superstars in the NBA never get to that level. For Abdur-Rahim, it was a bum knee. That, and playing on pitiful teams throughout his career.

He retired officially on Monday, and stop it with the jokes about how it seemed like he retired five years ago.

The guy was a player. Maybe he didn't have the killer instinct like most of the greats. But he was supremely talented.

He just didn't have luck on his side.

It's like the saying goes "only the good die young", in this case the good guy couldn't overcome a nagging, crippling injury. With everything the NBA has been through really on a weekly basis as of late, from one scandal after another to misbehaving players (one after the next as well), the Association could've used a guy like Shareef to step into the spotlight to restore some faith in the fans. It's too bad the opportunity never truly materialized for him.


Jordie Dwyer said...

Here's a question...How can he retire when no one really knew he was still playing???

Mike said...

touche! I guess therein lies the paradox :)
Too bad, Shareef really was a good guy!