After cementing his reputation as one of the finest shooters in NBA history by helping the Dallas Mavericks win their first championship, Peja Stojakovic has decided to retire after 13 seasons.
Stojakovic told ESPN.com on Monday that the physical toll caused by a string of back and neck troubles, at 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.
Read full story after the jump“When you start competing against your body more than you’re preparing for the actual game,” Stojakovic said, “it’s a wakeup call.”
Stojakovic does have the privilege of leaving the sport on an unquestioned high after some standout moments during the maiden title run in Mavericks history.
He scored 15 points and 21 points in back-to-back home victories over the Los Angeles Lakers that sealed a second-round sweep over the then-reigning champions, including a 6-for-6 performance from 3-point range in the Game 4 rout that eliminated L.A.
But Stojakovic had to grit through persistent neck trouble in March — believed to be connected to his longstanding back woes — just to work his way back into coach Rick Carlisle’s playoff rotation.
He leaves the NBA with career averages of 17 points and 40 percent shooting from 3-point range, ranking fourth all-time with 1,760 careers 3-pointers made after establishing himself as an All-Star with the Sacramento Kings and later playing with the Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Hornetsand Mavericks.
After breaking into the pro game at 14 with Red Star Belgrade, Stojakovic went on to star in Greece and also helped the Serbian national team, then playing as Yugoslavia, win championships at the 2001 Eurobasket tournament and the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis.
Stojakovic quickly grew close with Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki in their short time as teammates. Reflecting on the January rival of his longtime former Kings rival, Nowitzki said: “The first time I saw him at practice shooting, I knew his stroke was still sick.”
WRITTEN BY Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com & FULL STORY HERE