Today it was announced that long-time NBA shooting guard Jason Richardson was retiring and there was a litany of millennials that were like “Who?”
Today is a bitter sweet moment for me. I'm officially announcing my retirement from pro basketball. I… https://t.co/YhjI24k2dR— Jason Richardson (@jrich23) September 24, 2015
Then it dawned on me just how much J-Rich had been out of sight, and the highlight reels, for the last five or six years or so. And how, even when he was in his prime, he was overshadowed by other players at his position that are likely locks to be future Hall of Famers. But don’t get it twisted, Richardson has a pile of accolades as reminders for all just how “NICE” he really was. Drafted out of Michigan State University with the 5th overall pick in the NBA 2001 draft, J-Rich’s high flying style made him a fan favorite almost immediately for the then moribund Golden State Warriors. At 6'6 and 225 pounds, Jason Richardson was a monster to deal with on the offensive end for all but the most elite defenders, and even they had to work extra hard and keep their fingers crossed that he didn’t drop 30 or more on them.
Being that his basketball acumen and athleticism were so high, his attributes were immediately compared to those of his contemporaries out on the wings such as Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, LeBron James, Tracey McGrady and Dwyane Wade. Against those herculean individuals his mighty feats fell short, but that doesn’t mean he was a bum by any measure. Big Ten Player of the Year, two-time NBA All-Star, and only the third NBA player to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest back-to-back (2002 and 2003) behind Michael Jordan and Nate Robinson. His scoring average increased for six years straight before peaking at 23.2 during the 2005-06 season. Unfortunately, his wheels pretty much fell off for most of the remainder of his career. From 2006 up until his retirement, J-Rich would only have three seasons where he played at least 70 games as knee and foot problems would continually haunt him from then on. However, he was such a prolific scorer and explosive leaper in his prime that teams kept rolling the dice, and it kept coming up snake eyes for your boy J-Rich.
One thing was certain of his stints in Orlando, Phoenix Charlotte and Philly, it wasn’t about if he was going to be injured, but when and for how many games. Turns out the answer was “A whole damn lot.” He missed two years while a Sixer and only played in 18 games last season.
Last month Jason Richardson signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks and it was revealed that he had bone spurs in his knee. Foot, knee and ankle injuries are generally career killers for high-flyers but J-Rich fought valiantly to continue playing. Alas, it was to no avail.
He retired at the relatively middle age of 34. Jason averaged 17 points, 5 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 37 percent from three-point range throughout his career.