On Friday evening, free agent Darren Collison made the stunning announcement that he’s retiring from the NBA after 10 seasons in the league, including the last two with the Indiana Pacers.
Collison told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that his decision is in large part due to wanting to focus on his Jehovah’s Witness faith more.
Not only did Collison stun fans and media with this announcement, the point guard’s former Pacers teammates were blindsided by the news as well.
Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner both started alongside Collison for the last two seasons in Indiana, and both players expressed surprise when they heard the news.
Young said Collison had never hinted at something like this in their many conversations. In fact, Young said that he and Collison recently discussed their upcoming unrestricted free agency and all seemed normal.
After letting the news sink in, Young expressed his support for Collison.
“I wish my brother and good friend well in his next stages in life and in all of his future endeavors going forward,” Young told HoopsHype via text message. “He was one of the best competitors I’ve ever played with. He played with fire, energy and desire every night. He’s definitely a teammate I’d want to go to war with any day. I feel blessed to have played with DC.”
Turner and Collison were very close, and Turner even attended some Jehovah’s Witness meetings with Collison to better understand his teammate’s religion and show his support. Still, he didn’t think Collison would walk away from the NBA during his prime.
“DC was one of my favorite guards I ever played with,” Turner told HoopsHype via text message. “He constantly challenged me, but also constantly reminded me how good I was. I completely support and respect his decision.
“Me and him actually went to meetings together a couple times as well — with ‘meetings’ being Jehovah’s Witness slang for church. I didn’t see this coming, but I’m happy for him.”
The timing is perhaps what’s most shocking since Collison is coming off a strong year with the Pacers and was expected to generate significant interest from teams as an unrestricted free agent next week.
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted after the story broke, some executives were estimating that Collison would receive offers between $10 million to $12 million per year.
“While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith,” Collison told The Undefeated. “I am one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and my faith means everything to me. I receive so much joy from volunteering to help others and participate in a worldwide ministry. The joy I feel is unmatched.”
While Collison’s future was already up in the air given his free-agency status, the Pacers must now look for his replacement either on the market or internally.
Indiana’s second-string point guard, Cory Joseph, is also entering unrestricted free agency. It could mean the team tries to bring in outside help such as Ricky Rubio, who has been mentioned as a target for the Pacers for some time.
Another option would be handing the offensive reins over to Aaron Holiday, who is 22 and entering his second season with the team after being selected No. 23 in the 2018 draft.
Collison finishes his NBA career with averages of 12.5 points, 5.0 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 708 games.
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