By Lindsay Dunn
Fans and media have been fixated on the Lakers Kobe Bryant farewell tour this year and unfortunately it has almost totally eclipsed the pending retirement of another long time NBA veteran. The farewell tour of 38-year-old center Nazr Mohammed.
1004 regular season games plus 83 playoff games and still counting, Mohammed is a two-time NCAA Champion, an NBA Champion and has played 18 seasons with seven different teams in the NBA. Those are the numbers that follow current Oklahoma City Thunder player Nazr Mohammed as his final NBA season winds down.
In October it was announced that Mohammed had finally retired from the game, but fast forward five months later and the Thunder brought Mohammed out from retirement and signed him for the remainder of the season. In his final few months in the league he is seeing limited minutes on the court on a team led by 2016 All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, but that hasn’t stopped him from the grind and love of the game.
“I’m just focused and dedicated to whatever a team wants me to do and needs me to do and I just try to stay ready,” Mohammed confirmed when the Thunder visited Toronto.
He was the final pick of the first round of draft in 1998. A draft class that includes Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki. The big man still remembers wearing his navy blue suit when the Utah Jazz selected the NCAA champion 29th overall for their roster.
“I still have my draft day suit and I can still fit it,” Mohammed said with laugh in front of his locker. “It was nice and baggy and it had pleats in the pants. I haven’t worn a suit with pleats in my pants for a very long time.”
Nazr is known for his work on the NBA court and for bleeding Kentucky Blue. He won two championships with the Kentucky Wildcats in 1996 and 1998. If you follow him on social media or talk to him about the university you might think he may transition into a role with his alma mater, but don’t put your money on it, coaching isn’t in his future.
“You won’t see me coaching,” Mohammed said. “That takes a lot of patience. I think my wife has had enough patience for me paying 18 years, so I don’t see her having much more patience having me coach.”
In a career that has lasted more than triple the NBA average, the 2005 Championship with the San Antonio Spurs is one of his top highlights.
“I have so many favorite moments,” Mohammed reminisced. “I was fortunate to win a championship and get to play with so many great players. I’ve been really fortunate in the career that I have been given.”
While the NBA championship may go down as one of his favorite moments, there are hundreds of memorable moments from a career that spans thousands of minutes on the hardwood. From his infamous throw down, literal throw down of LeBron James in 2013 when he was playing with the Chicago Bulls, to his tussle with the ultimate trash talker Kevin Garnett in 2009, the devoted NBA fan will miss his presence.
Lindsay Dunn has been a TV sports and entertainment reporter for the past decade. She is currently based in Toronto and covers the local scene including the Toronto Raptors and Raptors 905. Follow her on Twitter @LindsayDunnTV