Monday , Sep , 29 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Reminiscing on Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s retirement

One player accepted the challenge of leading an expansion team. One player embraced the Canadian market. And one player gave back to the local community. So the city claimed Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Showing the forward the unconditional love usually reserved for forwards on the local NHL team …

Reminiscing on Shareef Abdur-Rahim's retirement

One story epitomizes the NBA in Vancouver. In 1998, feisty shooting guard Doug West got traded to Vancouver. He found a local bar. He drank seventeen Heinekens. And went to rehab.

The veteran was battling personal demons. Getting traded to the worst organization in sports pushed him over the edge.

Fortunately, West is fine. While he recovered, NBA basketball in Vancouver never got started. Losing sixty games per season, seeing Bryant Reeves show up out-of-shape, having two thieving owners, listening to Stu Jackson sound clips, and watching Steve Francis pout after getting drafted second overall would kill any market.  

Enter Memphis.

One player accepted the challenge of leading an expansion team. One player embraced the Canadian market. And one player gave back to the local community.

So the city claimed Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Showing the forward the unconditional love usually reserved for forwards on the local NHL team.

Knee injuries slowed Abdur-Rahim’s post Grizzly career and forced early retirement this week. Still, former Vancouver beat reporter Howard Tsumura wrote an excellent ‘Reef’’ memoirs column:

"The two things I’ll most remember about Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s time as a member of the Vancouver Grizzlies were the size of his heart and the depth of his character.

“Today, the thing I’m thinking about most is that right knee, the one so creaky and sore that the only true NBA superstar the Vancouver franchise could ever call its own has decided to retire this week after 12 NBA seasons, the last seven spent in Atlanta, Portland and finally Sacramento.

Symbolically, the knees should have given out a long time ago.

After all, as hindsight sharpens our focus on the five seasons Abdur-Rahim spent with the Grizzlies, 1996-2001, it’s easy to see that of all the players in the history of the franchise, he was asked to carry the heaviest load: The responsibility of hope.”

(Click here for the rest of Tsumura’s excellent story.) Got thoughts on Abdur-Rahim’s retirement? get at us in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of jinglesaint.