5 NBA stars who retired before turning 35

Kevin Durant said he can envision himself retiring by the age of 35. Well, a lot of athletes actually do.

Durant has been on the news a lot lately, and for good reason. The newly crowned two-time NBA champion and back-to-back Finals MVP certainly deserves as much. In a recent interview for ESPN, Durant mentioned that he sees himself retiring five season from now, once he is 35 years old.

The first reaction by many would probably be shock. As his recent success has proven, Durant is still very much in his prime and retiring in five years seems to soon. However, 35 is actually a pretty good barometer for when most athletes retire. An athlete’s career is very short compared to most other careers (the average NBA career is just 4.9 years long), but even the best of the best end up retiring sooner (for various reasons) than expected once they hit their dreaded thirties.

Here are five notable NBA players who retired at the age of 35 or younger:

Tracy McGrady

Tracy McGrady was one of the most electrifying players in the early 2000s. During his prime with the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets, there was arguably no other player who brought as much fear into the defender’s eyes as T-Mac. He was a seven-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA member, a Most Improved Player awardee, and a two-time scoring champion. Unfortunately, injuries started to derail his career in his late 20s and he had to retire by the age of 32.

McGrady currently serves as an analyst for ESPN.

Amar’e Stoudemire

Stoudemire doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves as the main gun alongside Steve Nash’s MVP years with the Phoenix Suns, but he was truly a dominant force during his prime. The six-time All-Star was the perfect pick and roll big man and even had a smooth mid-range jumper to boot. He had to retire from the NBA at 33 years old because of a myriad of injuries that severely limited his production.

Stoudemire finished his playing career with the Israeli team Hapoel Jerusalem and helped lead them to a championship in 2017 before officially retiring from basketball. Amar’e has also had several off-court ventures including a record label, a clothing line, acting, and a series of children’s books.

Gilbert Arenas

The former Washington Wizards point guard was one of the most explosive scorers in the league during the mid-to-late 2000s. Back then, Agent Zero was known for his outside shooting and clutch heroics and was one of the most beloved superstars of the NBA. But an untoward incident in 2010 involving hand guns and a confrontation with a teammate in the locker room, together with subsequent inappropriate actions regarding the matter, led to a suspension which was the beginning of the end of his NBA career.

Arenas last played in the NBA during the 2011-2012 season, at 30 years old. He currently co-hosts a daily sports talk show on YouTube.

Magic Johnson

Earvin “Magic” Johnson is widely considered to be the greatest point guard in NBA history. He was the leader of the Showtime Lakers that captivated the world in the ’80s and had one of the most iconic rivalries with Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. Johnson was a 12-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA member, three-time MVP, three-time Finals MVP, and five-time champion. He was so good and his playstyle was so mesmerizing that his moniker became his first name.

Magic retired in 1991, at just 31 years old, after finding out that he tested positive for HIV. After retirement, he did made brief comebacks during the 1992 All-Star game, for the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, and for 32 games during the 1995-1996 season. Johnson is also one of the most successful retired athletes with numerous ventures, including being a part owner of the Lakers and the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

Michael Jordan

Do I even need to say anything? Even non-sports fans know who Michael Jordan is. He was a 14-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA member, five-time MVP, six-time Finals MVP, and six-time champion. He is arguably the greatest player of all time (LeBron James is on the other side of the argument).

His Airness actually retired twice before the age of 35. After winning three straight championships with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan retired at the age of 30 to go pursue a career in baseball. He eventually returned to the Bulls towards the end of the 1994-1995 season and accomplished another three-peat from 1996 to 1998, after which he retired from the NBA once again at 34 years old. Jordan did make a comeback with the Washington Wizards for two seasons from 2001 to 2003 before retiring for good, but many choose to just overlook this chapter of his career.

Today, Michael Jordan still keeps himself busy with numerous business ventures. He also currently still receives royalties from Nike under the Jordan Brand and is a majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

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