Deciding when to retire has to be one of the most difficult decisions a professional athlete has to face through his lifetime, for as much as they’ve spent most of their lives in the hardwood trying to get paid and effectuate their dreams for NBA stardom.
Some players are forced to leave the game, either because of injuries, bad labor decisions, lack of opportunities or just because they don’t have what it takes anymore, but even though; some of us still feel like they had more to give in the floor when they decided to call it a day.
Other players looked like they weren’t going to retire and some others are still playing, but it just feels like the door for an NBA comeback is shutting right before their eyes despite the fact that they can still contribute for contending teams on a limited basis.
Beloved basketball players always leave a hole in their fans hearts when they leave the Association, notably when they’re not that old. That’s why today, we’re going to talk about some of the players that we either feel retired too early or that we believe could make an NBA comeback but probably won’t.
10. Nate Robinson
(Last game in the NBA): 31 years old - 3 assists and 1 steal in 19 mins against the Warriors
Nate Robinson left the league a couple of seasons ago and is currently playing in Venezuela as the team’s go-to-guy, but he’s been clearly trying to get attention from NBA sides in social media stating that he’s eager and more than willing to make a return to the big state had a team require his services.
Truth to be told, the fact that Kryptonate’s not on an NBA roster or at least in the G-League right now is kind of surprising, in consideration of how much the league values firepower and tends to go small nowadays. We all know what Nate can put on the table off the bench as an instant offense kind of player, whereas he’s a defensive liability but you just can’t deny his heart and feel for the game.
9. Brandon Roy
(Last game in the NBA): 34 years old - 5/20/17: 4 points in 2 mins against the Warriors
Crazy as it may seem, the former Rookie of the Year, Brandon Roy is just 33 years old right now, and it’s crazy to believe how far he could’ve got if it wasn’t for all those constant nagging pains and regrettable knee injuries, and he’d probably still be balling his life out backing up Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in his beloved Portland Trail Blazers.
In just a handful of NBA games, Brandon Roy wowed everybody with his impeccable scoring ability, his handles and crafty moves and the fact that he could fill the stat sheet on a nightly basis regardless of the rival. His peak came during the 2008-09 campaign when he averaged 22.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game in 48% from the floor, but injuries cut his career short.
8. David Lee
(Last game in the NBA): 28 years old - 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal in 29 mins against the Nets
Not so long ago, David Lee decided to call it a day after spending a 1 year tenure with the San Antonio Spurs as their big man off the bench, and in comptent of the fact that he wasn’t much needed during the Golden State Warriors’ 2014-15 Championship run, his jersey should hang in the rafters of the Oracle Arena for sure.
Lee was once one of the best scoring power forward in the league and a very capable rebounder, so the fact that he decided to retire at age 33 when everybody was expecting him to sign a 1 year deal with a contender comes a huge surprise. Apparently, he was never happy with the lesser role he got over the last passage of his career, and he chose to be dressed in street clothes rather than continue to play the game he loved.
7. Baron Davis
(Last game in the NBA): 33 years old - 5/6/12: 2 points and 2 assists in 25 mins against the Heat
Just like Nate Robinson, Baron Davis has reportedly been desperate to make a comeback to the NBA for years now after leaving the Association in 2012. Davis was one of the best scorers in the league during his prime, as well as a terrific playmaker and very efficient player in both ends of the court overall.
Sadly, injuries really took a toll on his development and it seemed like he just couldn’t shake them off. Now, he’s spending some time in the G-League at Delaware, something quite sad if you remember he was one of the best two-way point guards in the league. Over his NBA career, the strong guard averaged 16.1 points, 3.8 boards and over 7 assists as well as 1.8 steals per game, and it would be delightful for old fans to watch him on an NBA jersey once again.
6. Gilbert Arenas
(Last game in the NBA): 30 years old - 5/13/2012: scoreless in 3 mins against the Clippers
For a while, Gilbert Arenas was considered as a part of basketball elite with his capacity to score at will and be a willingful passer, but his lack of leadership, poor off-court behavior and self-destructive personality make him one of the NBA’s biggest what-ifs of the last couple of decades.
Arenas was banned from the league for reportedly pulling a couple of guns in the locker room to his teammate Javaris Crittenton after a gambling altercation, and withal of his aptitudes and desire to come back to the league, nobody’s going to give him a second chance (nor he’s worthy of one). Through a 10 year span, he averaged 20.7 points 3.9 dimes and 5.3 assists per game with 1.6 steals, also winning the MIP accolade and making it to 3 All-Star games.
5. Carlos Boozer
(Last game in the NBA): 33 years old - 4/15/15: 10 points and 6 rebounds in 10 mins against the Kings
Back in the day, Carlos Boozer was a major force down low in the paint, especially during his Utah Jazz stint. Sadly, it all went downhill quite fast for him during his last couple of years with the Chicago Bulls, and young fans just don’t reckon how dominant Booz was in the glass and as a scoring machine in the paint.
Boozer spent his last forgettable season with the Los Angeles Lakers before calling it a day, but everybody was expecting him to come back at some point of the season on a vet min deal to help a contender and go down as a Champion, something that to this day is still to happen. All over his course, Boozer made it to a couple of All-Stars and averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 boards on 52% from the hardwood.
4. Latrell Sprewell
(Last game in the NBA): 34 years old - 4/20/05 4 points and 3 rebounds in 20 mins against the Spurs
Latrell Sprewell was such an incredible star during his New York Knicks term, making fans all across the globe try and emulate his signature hairstyle and buy his sneakers because of his fierce game in both ends of the hardwood, and he even made 1 All-Defensive squad albeit he’s way more remembered by his scoring talents.
Sprewell’s NBA career got to a very dramatic ending, as he was keen to get paid way more money than what he was supposed to get, even though the Minnesota Timberwolves had a very lucrative offer on the table waiting for him. Afterwards, he had to deal with Bankruptcy and other issues, stuff that made it quite surprising for everybody not to watch him make a comeback to the league.
3. Amar’e Stoudemire
(Last game in the NBA): 33 years old - 5/11/16 1 rebound and 1 steal in 3 minutes against the Raptors
Young fans won’t remember it, but during his Phoenix Suns stretch, Amar’e Stoudemire was relentless as they come, and nobody was going to score on him or stop him without paying the prize with his strong anatomy and stunning athleticism for such a big individual.
Sadly for him, injuries got the best of him during the last years of his career with the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks until he decided to go overseas to play at Israel. Moreover, we were all expecting him to try and make a comeback to retire as a Champion, but apparently there were no suitors for the big guy. Arguably a Hall of Famer, STAT won the Rookie of the Year, made it to 6 All-Stars and 5 All-NBA teams and averaged 18.9 points and 7.2 rebounds through his career.
2. Caron Butler
(Last game in the NBA): 35 years old - 4/11/16: 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block in 17 mins against the Suns
Caron Butler was instrumental during the Dallas Mavericks Championship run, and he overcame one of the toughest childhoods you’ll hear about to become a very reliable source of hustle, points and boards from the beginning to the end of his 14 season NBA career with the Heat, Lakers, Wizards, Mavericks, Clippers, Bucks, Thunder, Pistons and Kings.
Butler last played in Sacramento as a veteran mentor and he averaged 14.1 points, 5 rebounds, 2.3 dimes and over 1 steals per game through his career, and it was very surprising not to watch any team give him a shot seeing how shorthanded the league is at the small forward spot right now.
1. Ray Allen
(Last game in the NBA): 38 years old - 6/15/14: 5 point, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal in 31 mins against the Spurs
Without any kind of hesitation, we can all (even Boston fans) agree that Ray Allen is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Allen was a huge threat during his early years with the Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle Supersonics as way more than a shooter, racking up points, steals and assists as an athletic freak that could crash the best defenders in the world.
Through the ladder passages of his career, he became more of a spot up or catch and shoot shooter, and he’ll go down as one of the deadliest scorers from beyond the arc in NBA history. Allen made it to 2 All-Stars and was a key factor in 2 NBA Championship teams, and everybody was expecting him to make a comeback for two full seasons until he finally stated that he had no intentions whatsoever of doing so. All through his successful career, he totaled over 2,4500 points, 4,300 assists, 1,500 steals and 2,973 three-pointers.