It might be hard for people to remember how good Peja Stojakovic and Antonio McDyess were. It might be hard for some younger folks to look at the ends of their careers and remember the All Star appearances, McDyess’ 20/10 seasons or Peja’s dead-eye shooting.
Today, both Peja and McDyess decided to hang ’em up, ending a couple of brilliant NBA careers. Stojakovic is going out on a high, having won a title last year with the Dalals Mavericks. Now, he says, enough is enough.
The three-time All-Star told ESPN.com on Monday that the physical toll involved in playing after a string of back and neck troubles, at age 34, convinced him that “it’s time” to step away from the game despite interest from a handful of contenders in signing the sharpshooter away from the Mavericks.
“When you start competing against your body more than you’re preparing for the actual game,” Stojakovic said, “it’s a wakeup call.”
You know, once upon a time, the Sacramento Kings were REALLY good. And part of the reason they were really good was Stojakovich. There was a six year stretch where he was a 20 point per game scorer and one of the most automatic shooters in the league. He even showed some flashes of that by scoring 15 and 21 during the sweep of the LA Lakers. And before he came to the United States, he was a damn good pro in Europe. And what people don’t realize is pros start their careers early over there. Peja was playing professionally at 14 years old. So he’s been at it for a while.
McDyess came into the league and quickly earned the nickname Antonio McDunk. He 21/10 and 21/12 seasons in Denver before blowing out his knee. Before the knee injury, McDyess was one of the league’s highest flyers. Afterwards, he became a solid contributor and steady veteran presence. His averages didn’t reflect his true impact, but a closer look at his stats did. His per-36 numbers show double digit rebounding and double/doubles (or almost double/doubles) over the last seven years of his career. Unfortunately, unlike Peja, McDyess finished his career without a ring
“This was not at all how I wanted it to end, but signing here was one of the best things I did in my career,” he said then. “I wouldn’t trade these two years for the world, one of the greatest times of my whole career. I just wish we would have gone farther.”
If anyone deserves a ring, it’s McDyess. It’s sad that he didn’t get one. And it’s a sad day to see both these guys go.