NBA superstars who retired on surprisingly random teams (part 2)

While legends like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan got to live out the fairy-tale story of playing their entire legendary careers with only one team, the truth is this narrative does not happen very often.

Whether due to financial disagreements, broken relationships, difference in direction, or a number of other reasons, many franchise players end up playing for random teams to end their careers. And with the emergence of the trend of different superstars teaming up to form superteams, we may see less and less of the “loyal” NBA superstar.

The 2018-2019 NBA season hasn’t officially started yet, but we all know that seeing Tony Parker in the Charlotte Hornets’ teal and purple and not the black and white of the San Antonio Spurs is going to be weird. Here is another set of NBA legends whom you may have forgotten played for random teams to end their respective careers (You can view part 1 here):

Dominique Wilkins, Orlando Magic

Dominique Wilkins is the greatest player in Atlanta Hawks history and one of the best dunkers the world has ever seen. He was one of the biggest stars of his generation. “The Human Highlight Film” spent almost 12 seasons with the Hawks and had many memorable battles with legends like Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.

However, what many don’t remember is that ‘Nique had a very unique whirlwind end to his playing career. In the middle of his 12th season, Wilkins was traded by the Hawks to the Los Angeles Clippers. He then signed with the Boston Celtics for the following season before playing a season in Greece, returned to the NBA through the San Antonio Spurs for one year, went to play in Italy for a year, and then signed with the Orlando Magic, where he eventually retired.

Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers

If you enjoy how the way the NBA game is played today, then you have to thank Steve Nash, the 2-time MVP and leader of the “Seven Seconds or Less” era of the Phoenix Suns. While Nash is best remembered for his days with the high-octane Suns, some may also remember him as Dirk Nowitzki’s running mate with the Dallas Mavericks, where they spent six seasons together. What many don’t remember (or at least wish they didn’t) is that Nash actually also played for the Los Angeles Lakers for two – yes, two – seasons before calling it a career.

Nash was part of the underwhelming superteam experiment of the Lakers for the 2012-2013 season alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard. His final season with the team, and of his career, was cut short due to a nerve damage in his back.

Amar’e Stoudemire, Miami Heat

Steve Nash may have won the MVPs and got most of the fan appreciation, but there would be no “Seven Seconds or Less” Phoenix Suns without Amar’e Stoudemire. He was the Suns’ designated finisher was as dominant as any power forward in the game during his prime. After leaving Phoenix, Stoudemire also spent some seasons with the New York Knicks, where he briefly served as the face of the franchise before the arrival of Carmelo Anthony. He then went on to play for the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat in his last two seasons in the NBA.

Technically, Stoudemire retired as a member of the New York Knicks, wherein he signed a contract for formality during the 2016 offseason before officially announcing his retirement (You can read why he didn’t choose to retire with the Suns here). However, he did play his last NBA game with the Miami Heat.

Robert Parish, Chicago Bulls

Initially drafted by the Golden State Warriors, Robert Parish’s career is best-remembered as a part of the Boston Celtics, the team he won three titles with as a nine-time All-Star. He served as a member of one of the greatest rivals for Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the 80’s, but not many remember that he actually ended up playing with Michael Jordan and for the Bulls to end his career.

After 14 seasons with the Boston Celtics, The Chief played two seasons with the Charlotte Hornets before eventually joining the legendary Bulls team for the 1996-1997 season. With the Bulls, Parish won his fourth title at the age of 43. Because of this last championship, Parish is credited as the oldest NBA player to ever win one.

Penny Hardaway, Miami Heat

Penny Hardaway is viewed as one of the biggest “what ifs” of the NBA. A promising career with Shaquille O’Neal and the Orlando Magic that was highlighted by a Finals trip in 1995 was unfortunately hampered by multiple injuries which he never recovered from beginning from the 1996-97 season.

After playing for the Magic, Hardaway also had stints with the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks, although he was clearly not the player he once was anymore. After initially retiring before the 2006-07 season, Hardaway returned in 2007 to play for the Miami Heat. With them, Hardaway was reunited with O’Neal, but their reunion proved to be short-lived as Hardaway was waived by Miami after playing in just 16 games.

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