In sports, the Hall of Fame tends to skew which players are remembered after they retire, not so much for who gets in (the Basketball Hall of Fame is notoriously in need of an overhaul), but whether a player is worthy of deserving the conversation. However, as the previous generation of sub-stars fade away, fans in their 20s and 30s will continue to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane, cementing which ones will leave a lasting legacy despite falling short of being among the game’s greats.
An unquestioned member of that group is Jason Richardson, who yesterday announced his retirement via his own Instagram account:
Today is a bitter sweet moment for me. I'm officially announcing my retirement from pro basketball. I like to thank the organizations and fans in Charlotte, Phoenix, Orlando, Philly and especially The Bay Area for their loyal support the past 14 years. Walking away was the hardest decision I had to make but choosing my health and spending time with my family is more important to me! God bless!
The tributes are already being published for J-Rich, best known for being lead member of the “We Believe” Warriors, the 2006-2007 edition that shocked the top seeded Mavericks, as well as winning back-to-back Slam Dunk Contests.
He signed with the Hawks in August but, via Yahoo’s Marc Spears, he learned he had bone spurs and decided to think long-term:
"I didnt want to limp the rest of my life. I still have my whole life in front of me," @jrich23 told Y."I want to be able to play w/my kids"
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) September 24, 2015
Richardson, now 34, never made an All-Star team, but along with the Slam Dunk trophies, he went to two Final Fours (with one title) as a Michigan State Spartan, was All-Rookie First Team in 2002 and notched over 17 points per game in 14 seasons, over which he made the playoffs four times, coming closest to a title with the resurgent 2010 Suns, losing in a tough six-game series in the Western Conference Finals to the defending champion Lakers.
He was also involved in a couple of the more significant trades of the last decade. Golden State traded him following the magical 2007 playoff run, netting rookie Brandan Wright from Charlotte, but the Warriors were never the same. Then, in exchange for Boris Diaw and Raja Bell, Charlotte dealt him to Phoenix along with Jared Dudley, a deal that extended the team’s window. When they needed another shake-up, Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark were sent to Orlando for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and the pick that later turned into Nikola Mirotic. Finally, his salary was offloaded to the tanking Sixers in the Dwight Howard/Andrew Bynum/Andre Iguodala/Nikola Vucevic blockbuster.
When kids from future generations develop a love of basketball, they’ll have no shortage of highlights and stories for the likes of LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neal. It’s the guys like Richardson who they’ll notice and mention to their elders, who will surely smile upon hearing his name.