The NBA is currently booming with a plethora of young stars leading the league to the top of the sports world. Fans connect with individual athletes that lead their favorite teams. Many believe the NBA has the potential to surpass the NFL in the next few years due to both leagues trending in different directions. The youth of the NBA is seeing new young stars enter the league every year to make an impact. All-stars are typically in their mid-20s to early-30s with those being the prime years of a top athlete. Veterans have a tough time finding a role as they grow in age.
Many noteworthy stars have been forced to quietly retire in recent years. The likes of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan were celebrated for their legendary careers ending. That just doesn’t happen for the majority of retiring star. Hell, some of the veterans are still active and fans lose interest in them. There are various established NBA names still playing in the league with minimal game time. Others have continued their careers in different countries. We’ll take a look at both sides of the later years of an NBA player with eight stars you didn’t realize retired and another seven you weren’t aware are still active.
15. Retired: Stephen Jackson
The very outspoken Stephen Jackson always gave his all on the NBA court. As a second round draft pick, Jackson had to battle his way into NBA relevancy playing for eight different teams in the NBA. Jackson was waived by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015 and that ended his playing career in the league. ESPN hired him as an analyst but Jackson still missed the NBA hardwood.
Jackson worked in the summer of 2016 for an NBA comeback but he couldn’t find a team willing to take the chance on him at the age of 38. Most in Jackson’s position would consider trying the D-League or playing overseas for good money. The motivation for Jackson isn’t financial and he stated it’s “NBA or nothing” with any other option being a step below. Jackson remains retired and is likely going to continue his broadcasting career.
14. Still Playing: Josh Childress
The Atlanta Hawks drafted Josh Childress with the 6th overall pick in 2004. Obviously, they expected him to become a fixture on the team with his All-Star potential. Childress earned a strong reputation in college playing for Stanford University. The career of Childress didn’t bomb right away. He averaged double digits points during all five season in Atlanta but never improved into a star.
Childress played for the Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans in following seasons struggling to find a home. The career of Childress continued in Sydney playing for the Sydney Kings in the NBL for a couple of years. Childress most recently played for the Texas Legends in the D-League and still hopes for an NBA comeback. Luckily, he admitted that he saved most of his money from the NBA years by learning from the mistakes of the veterans in the league so he isn’t struggling too badly.
13. Retired: Landry Fields
The playing career of Landry Fields ending is an absolute shocker given he’s only 28 years old. Fields looked like he was going to be a starting caliber shooting guard for many years during his early seasons with the New York Knicks. The combination of impressive defense and a good outside shot made Fields stand out for contributing on both sides of the floors. Fields was in such high demand that the Toronto Raptors snagged him away from New York with a big contract offer.
Toronto unfortunately never got the best of Fields. He struggled with injuries and couldn’t live up to the contract when on the floor. Surgery for a hip labral tear forced him to miss the entire 2015-2016 season and he realized he wouldn’t be able to return to form in contributing to an NBA team. Fields retired and found work in the San Antonio Spurs organization as a college scout.
12. Still Playing: Metta World Peace
Everyone enjoys the antics of Metta World Peace but very few realize he’s still on the Los Angeles Lakers. Formerly Ron Artest, the talented NBA player was one of the best defenders of his time and helped contribute to the Lakers winning the 2010 NBA Championship. World Peace tried to follow his name by playing in other leagues all the way in China and Italy. The Lakers decided to bring him back in the NBA by signing him in 2015.
World Peace is still on the new-look Lakers serving as a veteran presence. So far this season, he is averaging just 0.5 points per game in less than 3 minutes but numbers don’t define his presence. World Peace is there to help the young kids in their first seasons learn the NBA world and improve their defense. The exciting personality of World Peace is going to land him work in other fields whenever he does decide to leave the NBA.
11. Retired: Luke Ridnour
The Seattle SuperSonics drafted Luke Ridnour in the legendary 2003 draft. Ridnour did not evolve into the superstars like many others from his class but he did contribute to the team as a solid starting point guard for a few seasons. The play of Ridnour declined over time with him losing standing as someone teams wanted to grab. This was cemented when he became a weird “did you know” fact in NBA history.
Ridnour was traded four different times in a span of just six days in the summer of 2015. The Orlando Magic, Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors all technically had Ridnour on their roster in the week. The kicker is Toronto decided to waive him and that was actually the end of his NBA career. Ridnour sat out the following season before officially announcing his retirement from basketball.
10. Still Playing: Andre Miller
Andre Miller is currently the oldest player in the NBA today as a reserve for the San Antonio Spurs. At the age of 40, Miller refuses to retire in hopes of contributing to the betterment of a team. Miller has a great track record as a facilitator getting the other players on the team involved in the offensive game. During the 2001-2002 season, Miller led the league in assists with 10.9 per game.
Miller has played for nine different teams over the course of his career. Many fans don’t know he is still playing considering his decline in talent and playing time coming with older age. Miller is still getting solid playing time for a veteran with 14 minutes per game in San Antonio as a backup to Tony Parker and Patty Mills. The Spurs are hopeful to compete for an NBA Championship giving Miller his best chance at winning his first NBA Championship.
9. Retired: Elton Brand
The very talented Elton Brand is one of the more underrated players to recently retire. Unlike the bigger names to end their time in the NBA, Brand did not receive a big celebration or memories shared about him. His career deserves to be recognized considering he made two All-Star appearances and averaged 20+ points per game in six different seasons. Brand led the Los Angeles Clippers to the playoffs in 2006 at a time when the franchise was in shambles.
The later years of Brand saw him diminish with injuries and the ageing process limit his production. Brand played his final season last year with the Philadelphia 76ers. It was actually the second retirement of Brand making it confusing for everyone. Brand retired in 2015 and came out of retirement for one more season. He claims this is the final stand with the retirement being official. Brand will leave great memories for those who saw him play on their teams.
8. Still Playing: Udonis Haslem
Dwyane Wade may have left the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls but one staple of the Heat organization remains on the team. Udonis Haslem has been in Miami since getting drafted in the 2003-2004 season. Haslem contributed greatly to the Heat’s NBA Championship in 2006 but has seen his role diminish through the years. Still, he serves as a locker room leader and is a fixture in the community.
Haslem is special to Miami fans but the rest of the NBA world has forgotten about him due to the lack of presence on the court. That isn’t a bad thing. Every franchise wants to have a hard working pillar that fans rally around and views as an unofficial leader of the team. Haslem will likely spend his entire career with the Heat. Most casual fans won’t realize when he decides to hang it up, but it will be an important day for Miami basketball.
7. Retired: Kenyon Martin
Kenyon Martin had a strong NBA career with his best years taking place with the New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets. The Nets made two consecutive NBA Finals with Martin being the second best player on the team behind Jason Kidd. Martin had an intense style that provided toughness and reliability during his better days in the league. Injuries caused a decline with Martin losing some of his athletic ability.
The years saw Martin diminish in talent and his presence in the league fell from a noteworthy player on a title contender to struggling to find a job. Martin has retired from basketball due to the inability to impress teams enough in landing a roster spot. A recent podcast interview on Adrian Wojnarowski’s show featured Martin saying he still believes he can offer something to an NBA team. The likelihood of him getting an offer to come out of retirement is not very high. Martin’s quiet departure from the NBA will likely be able the end of the line.
6. Still Playing: Andray Blatche
The story of Andray Blatche’s career is rather sad. Blatche was once viewed as one of the more talented centers in the NBA. The averages of 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in the 2010-2011 season giving Washington Wizards fans reason to believe he would be something special. That upward momentum ended the following season when Washington benched Blatche due to “lack of conditioning” and later waived him.
Blatche rebounded by signing with the Brooklyn Nets as a reserve center to Brook Lopez. The play of Blatche added depth to help get Brooklyn into the playoffs. Many, including Blatche, expected him to get a big contract offer from someone in free agency. It never came and he decided to leave the NBA. Fans may assume he retired, but he moved to China and has played with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers for the past couple of years to continue his career and make the money he desires.
5. Retired: Hedo Turkoglu
Hedo Turkoglu had an underrated career in the NBA with stints on the Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers. Turkoglu played a huge role in the Magic getting to the 2009 NBA Finals. The overall play of Turkoglu allowed him to contribute for many years before older age saw his play regress. A lack of playing time on the Clippers marked the end of the Clippers time in the NBA.
Following fifteen seasons in the NBA, Turkoglu quietly announced his retirement realizing he could no longer compete at a high level. The smaller role with minimal playing time in the final seasons made NBA fans forget all about Turkoglu. That resulted in his retirement flying under the radar and having fans not knowing the certainty of his status. Fans of the Magic likely have the fondest memories of Turkoglu but his career sadly isn’t getting the respect it deserves from other fan bases.
4. Still Playing: Sasha Vujacic
Sasha Vujacic has been in and out of the NBA over the past twelve years. The Los Angeles Lakers is where he achieved the most success of his career, including hitting the clutch free throws in Game 7 that helped the Lakers win the 2010 NBA Championship over the Boston Celtics. Vujacic spent the following season with the New Jersey Nets but failed to impress with an increase of playing time.
This caused Vujacic to play in Euroleague and the Turkish Basketball League over the next couple of seasons. Vujacic made his NBA return in 2015 signing with the New York Knicks. Phil Jackson being the President of the Knicks after coaching him on the Lakers likely landed him the opportunity. The lack of purpose on the team has made Vujacic an afterthought in the league and many fans aren’t even aware he’s still active. Vujacic is averaging just six minutes per game so far this season and his time in New York is completely irrelevant.
3. Retired: Larry Sanders
At just 27 years old, many pundits Larry Sanders to be an All-Star caliber big man in the NBA by now. Instead, he has retired from the game and it doesn’t appear he will return. The Milwaukee Bucks drafted Sanders and saw him play at the center position for five seasons. Milwaukee hoped he would be a fixture on the team for many years to come. Sanders stood out with great defense as one of the best shot blockers in the game and a very good rebounder.
Things started to change when Sanders failed a couple of drug tests for marijuana. Sanders requested time away from the game for personal reasons and eventually announced he was leaving the game of basketball. A video explanation saw Sanders tell fans that he was leaving the game to help for his issues with depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Sanders left the door open for a potential return but it has been almost two years since his retirement with no hints towards coming back.
2. Still Playing: Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury is one of the more decorated point guards to see his NBA career fall apart so quickly. The thirteen year tenure in the NBA saw Marbury make two All-Star appearances and put up impressive numbers during his prime. A return back home on the New York Knicks is ultimately what ended Marbury’s NBA career. The play of Marbury diminished and he started to become more outlandish off the court.
No one wanted to sign him so Marbury was forced to leave the NBA. It ended up being the best thing for him as Marbury changed his career around in China of all places. The Beijing Ducks have seen Marbury dominate the Chinese Basketball Association leading them to three CBA Championships and become a huge sports star making the sport relevant in China. There was even a theatrical play based on the life of Marbury that saw high demand for it. Marbury may be forgotten in the United States, but he is a huge star in China.
1. Retired: Jason Richardson
The career of Jason Richardson saw him average 17.1 points per game and hit double digit averages in twelve of his thirteen seasons in the NBA. Richardson provided great excitement as a highly entertaining player. Diehard fans remember him winning the Slam Dunk Contest in back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003. Richardson contributed to the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers as a journeyman.
Injuries forced Richardson to see his contributions decline in his final few years with the 76ers. Richardson actually signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 2015 but found bone spurs in his right knee just a few weeks later. The fear of the potential of his ability to walk being impaired with another season saw him decide to call it a career. Richardson quietly retired with very little fanfare despite deserving more love for the fun memories he gave NBA fans.