Some players give everything they can to a franchise, a community or a city, becoming instant fan favorites and ultimate idols, with their families also settling down on those towns and making them their home.
Either because they spent several years there and reach their primes with those teams or because they led them to at least one Championship, getting your jersey retired by one team as recognition to your efforts has to be one of the greatest honors a player can receive.
Sadly, more often than not, those players aren’t able to finish their careers with the team they cherish so much, either because of roster moves, broken relationships or just because they’re not able to contribute the way they used to.
Today, we’re going to let you know about 10 guys that even though gave it all to their franchises, weren’t able to retire with them.
10. Walt Frazier
Walt Frazier was arguably the main reason why the New York Knicks were able to win the NBA Championships in 1970 and 1973, with the point guard leading the way through 10 seasons in the Big Apple.
Nonetheless, he spent the final 3 years of his career as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he was only able to make 15 appearances combining his last two campaigns. The Knicks retired his number 10 jersey, but he wasn’t able to retire there anyway.
9. Bob Cousy
Back in the day when the Boston Celtics were the most dominant team in professional basketball, Bob Cousy spent 13 seasons as their starting point guard and being a key element in 6 NBA Championships.
Nonetheless, in one of the oddest moves in the history of the game, he decided to come back after 6 seasons retired to have a brief 7 game stint in 1970 with the Cincinnati Royals as a player-coach.
8. Gary Payton
The Glove was one of the best defensive point guards in the league and led the Seattle Supersonics alongside Shawn Kemp to constant playoffs runs, but they were never able to win the Chip, something that eventually made him go ring chasing.
Payton tried to wing the Larry O’Brien trophy with the Bucks (being traded for Ray Allen), Lakers and Celtics before finally retiring as a Champion with the Miami Heat, but his prime came during his Seattle tenure, where he spent 12 seasons.
7. Dominique Wilkins
Dominique Wilkins is remembered for being one of the game’s most athletic and explosive dunkers ever, and for being the guy that pretty much put the Atlanta Hawks on the map throughout the 80’s.
Still, the “Human Highlight Film” wasn’t able to finish his career at Georgia as he would’ve liked, also playing for the Clippers, Celtics, Spurs and Magic before retiring after a 17 year NBA tenure.
6. Patrick Ewing
Patrick Ewing is considered to be the greatest player ever to set foot in the Big Apple, spending 16 seasons with the New York Knicks and owning pretty much every record in team history and in Madison Square Garden history.
Nevertheless, he wasn’t able to retire with the Knicks, having a failed one year stint with the Seattle Supersonics before retiring with the Orlando Magic in 2002, with just 4 starts and averaging less than 10 points a game.
5. Robert Parish
Robert Parish, aka The Chief, was one of the most important players in Boston Celtics history, helping the team win 4 NBA Championships after kick-starting his career with the Warriors back then in the 1976 campaign.
Sadly, the double zero wasn’t able to retire at the Garden, spending a brief period of time with the Charlotte Hornets before calling it a day with the Chicago Bulls. At least, Boston was kind enough to retire his jersey after all he gave to them.
4. Steve Nash
Nash spent most of his career wandering between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks, but his prime definitely came at the desert playing next to Leandro Barbosa, Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire, winning a couple of MVPs and leading the league in dimes 5 different times.
Nash joined the Los Angeles Lakers to try and win the Chip with Kobe, Pau and Dwight Howard, but constant injuries kept him sidelined for most of the time and he was forced to retire with a team that didn’t value him as much as he deserved…
3. Karl Malone
Karl Malone was one of the most strong and dominant presences in the league, and the most dominant scorer not named Michael Jordan during his prime, leading the Utah Jazz to a couple of NBA Finals alongside John Stockton.
Sadly, he tainted his legacy by going ring chasing with the Los Angeles Lakers to try and win next to Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant and Shaq, but that infamous experiment was a terrible mistake for everybody involved, making him retire with the Lakers after spending 18 seasons and winning 2 MVPs with Utah.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon is by far the most talented center in the history of the game, being offensively skilled as the best players ever with his ballerina-like footwork, but also being a lockdown defender and rim protector nobody could ever get past.
Olajuwon gave the Rockets a couple of Championships and made his way to basketball heaven as the greatest shot blocker in the history of the game, but he retired after a one year tenure with the Toronto Raptors, something no one even remembers nowadays.
1. Michael Jordan
6 NBA Championships, 6 Finals MVP, 1 Defensive Player of the Year, 3 times Steal Champion, 10-time Scoring Champion, 9 All-Defensive squads, 1 Rookie of the Year, 3 All-Stars MVP, 5 MVPs and 14 All-Star appearances, way to sum up a career for the greatest player ever.
Every single one of this accolades was achieved as a member of the Chicago Bulls, but sadly, Jordan retired as a member of the Washington Wizards, when he was also a part of the team’s front office. Watching him on a Wizards jersey was always odd and strange, and it just feels like a terrible mistake after all he gave to his beloved Chicago Bulls, the best team in NBA history.