As you’ve probably already heard, an all-time Sacramento Kings great is calling it a career.
Peja Stojakovic announced today he’s retiring from the game of basketball. He spoke one-on-one with ESPN’s Marc Stein and says health is a primary reason why he’s decided to walk away from the NBA.
Stojakovic told ESPN.com on Monday that the physical toll caused by a string of back and neck troubles, at age 34, convinced the three-time All-Star 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.”
During the relocation saga of last spring, I had planned to write a piece for SLAM featuring perspectives from past Kings players and coaches on their time in Sacramento. Since the Dallas Mavericks had already made their two visits to Power Balance Pavilion earlier in the season, I made a trip out to Oakland to catch the eventual NBA champs play the Golden State Warriors. I caught up with Stojakovic and asked him to share his take on the Kings then-impending relocation to Anaheim.
“I never gave a thought about that,” said Stojakovic. “But definitely the years that I was there, I had a great time, great memories still out there. We had a great connection to the city and the fans.”
He paused for a moment to gather more of his thoughts.
“I don’t know,” Stojakovic continued. “I can’t imagine Sacramento without a team. But I guess that’s a business decision the Maloofs have to make, if they’re not already in the process of making it, so I don’t know.”
I also asked the former Kings sharpshooter about the fans and how at the time, they were helpless during the entire process.
“They’re in a tough position,” Stojakovic said. “They gave that team great support when that team wasn’t doing well. They were always there.
“I feel bad for them and for the city of Sacramento,” he added.
I never did write that story and those quotes from Stojakovic along with Kevin Martin, Brad Miller and former Kings Head Coach Rick Adelman went unused. At least until now.