Mehmet Okur Officially Retires

Mehmet Okur officially announced his retirement yesterday, because he unofficially retired last year in New Jersey!

But in all seriousness, here’s the news (via ESPN.com):

Former NBA big man Mehmet Okur announced his retirement from basketball on Wednesday at the age of 33.

Okur said he was retiring because injuries have kept him from contributing at a high level.

“A player of certain level should say goodbye to the sport he loves when his body doesn’t let him to be as he used to be,” Okur said Wednesday, his comments carried by the Anadolu Agency in Turkey.

Okur actually had a very productive prime. After winning a championship as a key bench player for the 2004 Pistons, Okur made the move to Utah where he and Carlos Boozer provided one of the best offensive NBA frontcourts in the past 10 years (no – I’m not joking!). But neither could stop anybody, so the Boozer-Okur-Kirilenko-Williams Jazz teams could only go so far. I must admit: from afar, those were my favorite non-Sixers teams to watch. I loved the flex offense and the pick-your-poison type of matchups the Jazz presented.

Unfortunately, his retirement seemed inevitable after last year’s collapse in New Jersey. Okur spent the prior season injured for practically the entire season, and when he did play he looked like a shell of his former self. It only became worse after being traded to the Nets, where Okur, at 32, destroyed the Nets on both ends of the floor. Whatever lift he had on his jumper disappeared, and his already shaky defense turned into a trainwreck. In his last appearance against the Sixers, which I remember well, Okur looked almost broken – yet he had one of the best games of his season. Played 32 minutes, scored 11 on 13 shot attempts, including 3 threes – I’ll remember that game as the one that convinced me Deron Williams was just loafing last season and had plenty left in his proverbial tank. Granted, that’s generally a bad game, but that was Mehmet Okur last year.

But we’ll always have that inexplicable all-star game appearance, the 2004 title, and a whole bunch of other memories of Memo, and I’m glad he realized that he had little left to give on an NBA level. Long live Memo.

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