Saturday, June 8, 2013

Grant Hill, Jason Kidd retires


Source : ESPN
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Clippers forward Grant Hill announced his retirement Saturday after a 19-year career in NBA.

Hill made the announcement on TNT before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers.

"I'm glad to say I'm done," Hill said. "I'm officially retired, moving on from playing. I had a great run. I'm announcing it now. ... I've been hinting at it the last few years. You get to a point where you just don't want to do it anymore but I've enjoyed it. I've loved it."

Hill, 40, signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the Clippers last year but had alluded several times at the end of this season that he would retire over the summer.

Hill only played in 29 games this season for the Clippers while battling various injuries, his fewest since 2006, and only saw action in the Clippers' last playoff game, a 118-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 6 of the first round. Hill never had averaged fewer than 28 minutes and 10 points per game during his career but only averaged 15.1 minutes and 3.2 points per game off the bench for the Clippers.

"The entire Clippers organization wants to congratulate Grant on an incredible career," Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks said. "For 19 years, Grant has always been the embodiment of class, a true professional and not only one of the best players -- but one of the finest individuals I have been around. We were fortunate to have Grant with us last season, and we wish him all the best in his next endeavor."

Hill's career was derailed and almost ended because of ankle injuries that allowed him to only play in 47 games with the Orlando Magic over four seasons from 2000-04. He only played in four games in 2000-01 and missed the 2003-04 season.

Hill was one of the best basketball players in the world in the late 1990s after winning two national championships at Duke, an Olympic gold medal with Team USA at the 1996 Olympics and earning five All-NBA honors and the 1994-95 Co-Rookie of the Year Award.

Injuries, however, prevented Hill from reaching his full potential in the NBA, although he was able to play in at least 80 games in three of his five seasons with the Phoenix Suns, where he played in the Western Conference Finals in 2010, his most successful playoff run.

Hill finishes his career with averages of 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.2 steals in 33.9 minutes per game. Hill played in 1,026 total NBA games (972 starts) and connected on 48.3 percent of his field goals, 31.4 percent from behind the 3-point line and 76 percent of his free throws over his career.

Jason Kidd announced his retirement Monday after 19 seasons as one of the best passing and rebounding point guards in NBA history.

The thought of retirement first began to creep into the New York Knicks point guard's mind around the All-Star break. But he didn't think seriously about it until recently. Over the weekend at a wedding in Georgia he made the decision.

"I think it is the right time," Kidd told "When you think about 19 years, it has been a heckuva ride. Physically, I want to be able to participate in activities with my kids so it has taken a toll. It is time to move on and think about maybe coaching or doing some broadcasting.

"Jeff [Schwartz] and I and my family had been talking this past weekend," Kidd added of his agent. "We talked a lot and we felt it was the right time to move on and so we notified the Knicks. They were kind of taken aback. We told them [earlier] that I wanted to come back and play. But this weekend was when we got a chance to relax [and really think about it]. It is the right thing to do."

Kidd, 40, leaves the game as a sure-fire Hall of Fame point guard. The 10-time All-Star led the NBA in assists five times and finished second all-time in assists and steals behind John Stockton.

Kidd, who had two years remaining on his contract at just more than $3 million per year, leaves with a legacy that includes an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks and two Olympic gold medals with Team USA.

"The two things that are probably tied for first are winning a championship with the Mavericks and also being able to win a gold medal -- two gold medals with Team USA," Kidd said of what he's most proud of in his career. "And then underneath that will probably be sharing Rookie of the Year with Grant [Hill]."   

Hill, also 40, announced his retirement on Saturday.

During his prime, the versatile Kidd was like an instant fast break due to his uncanny court vision, instincts and ability to rebound. The 6-foot-4 Oakland, Calif., native, who was one of the most hyped high school prospects of his generation, had more triple-doubles (107) than anyone outside of Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.  

Kidd averaged 12.6 points, 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 1,391 regular-season games. He took great pride in his ability to make teammates better and his knack for turning teams around. 

"The biggest thing is winning," Kidd said of what he wants to be remembered for. "No matter what percentage, no matter what my numbers say in the sense of points, assists, rebounds and steals, it's always been about winning. And it will always be about winning … making my teammates better."  

The second overall pick out of California in the 1994 draft entered the league as part of the "Three J's" with Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn in Dallas. Kidd sparked the Mavericks to a 36-win season -- a 23-game improvement from the season before -- to earn co-Rookie of the Year honors with Hill.

After being dealt to the Suns two and a half seasons later, Kidd led the team to a 16-game improvement in his first full season in Phoenix in 1997-98.

And then after being traded to New Jersey in 2001, Kidd transformed the Nets into instant contenders. With Kidd playing at an MVP level, the Nets won 52 games -- a 26-game leap from the season before. It was the Nets' first 50-win season in their NBA history. Kidd also lifted the franchise to the first of two consecutive NBA Finals appearances.

"What we accomplished in New Jersey with the Nets, from the bottom and being able to get to the Finals, back to back, that was really special," Kidd said.

After losing to Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan in back-to-back NBA Finals, Kidd finally got his coveted championship ring as a Maverick. Teaming up with Dirk Nowitzki, Kidd topped LeBron James and the Heat in six games in 2010-11. In his 19th and final season, Kidd signed with the Knicks and helped them win 54 games, an 18-game improvement from the season before. It was the franchise's first 50-win season since 1999-2000.

The Knicks, though, were eliminated in the second round by Indiana in six games. Kidd struggled in the postseason, failing to make a basket in his last 10 playoff games.

Kidd said his struggles at the end did not factor heavily into his decision to retire.

"Everybody will probably say that [it did]," Kidd said. "But I didn't come into the league as a shooter or scorer and I guess I won't be leaving as one. I just tried to play the game the right way. As you get older, Father Time is undefeated. The ball just wouldn't go in for me at the end. I thought I had a great season."

The Knicks will now have to find a backup guard to replace Kidd either through the draft with the 24th overall pick or free agency.

"They got a good group of guys," Kidd said of the Knicks' prospects for next season. "Most people felt that was an old team but we knew that the core of the team -- Melo [Carmelo Anthony], Tyson [Chandler] and J.R. [Smith] -- they are young.

"We had some success so I think they are sitting in a good spot and [general manager] Glen Grunwald and [owner James] Dolan and [coach Mike] Woodson are figuring out the pieces that can help them be a championship-type team."

"Jason's value to the Knicks and the National Basketball Association cannot be quantified by statistics alone," Grunwald said in a statement. "Everyone here in New York saw firsthand what a tremendous competitor he is and why Jason is considered to be one of the best point guards, and leaders, the game has ever seen."

Woodson said in the statement that Kidd "provided an incredible voice inside our locker room and I considered it an honor to say I coached him."

Kidd was often a centerpiece for a contending team. He retires after making the playoffs in 17 consecutive seasons. He finished with a playoff average of 12.9 points, 8.0 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 158 career postseason games.

"It's a grind," Kidd said of playing all these years. "Physically, I feel good. Mentally, I might be just a little tired because of the grind. And once if your mind is not into it 100 percent, then you are not going to be successful and bad things can happen with the sense of injuries. I don't want to go down that road. It is time for me to look forward to doing something new."

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