Elton Brand's retirement is latest blow to dying breed of NBA stars

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After an attempt to resume his career this season, forward Elton Brand has instead elected to retire after 17 productive seasons in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers waived Brand today, as Philly Mag’s Derek Bodner tweeted, officially ending his career.

From the first overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft to two-time All-Star to aging veteran, Brand’s career was as productive as it was frustrating.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Brand – for the second time in the last two years – announced his retirement, stating that it was “for real this time.”

“After 17 years of playing the game that I love – and it’s been great to me – I’m officially retiring,” Brand said. “It was a wonderful journey; I’d certainly like to thank all the organizations I’ve been a part of.”

In his 17 years, Brand suited up for the Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, and 76ers. He finishes with career averages of 15.9 points, 8.5 rebounds , 2.1 assists, and 1.7 blocks in 1,058 total regular season games.

After an outstanding rookie campaign in Chicago, securing co-Rookie of the Year honors with then-Houston Rockets guard Steve Francis, many viewed Brand as a cornerstone of a potential dynasty for the post-Michael Jordan era Bulls. However, after averaging 20.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in two seasons for Chicago, Brand was dealt to the Clippers, the team with which he enjoyed most of his success.

He made two All-Star teams in LA, leading the Clippers to the playoffs during the 2005-06 campaign. Many view that season as Brand’s best; he posted totals of 24.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists, finishing seventh in NBA Most Valuable Player award voting.

A double-digit machine, Brand was the face of a Clippers franchise fighting to relevancy with the rival Los Angeles Lakers. Long before “Lob City” was a thing in LA, and players such as Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan spearheaded one of the Western Conference’s powerhouses, Brand’s consistency, and productivity defined the team.

However, injuries slowly set in – the most devastating being a ruptured Achilles tendon that sidelined Brand for all but eight games during the 2007-08 season. The 76ers, in search for veteran leadership, took an expensive flier on Brand as he hit free agency after the season. Philadelphia signed him to a five-year, $82 million deal prior to the 2008-09 season.

Season-ending shoulder surgery cut Brand’s first year in Philly short. He was a productive asset the next three seasons, averaging 13.0 points and 7.2 rebounds as the starting center. However, Brand’s contract was amnestied by the 76ers, and he spent the next three years coming off the bench for the Mavericks and Hawks.

A 17-game cameo for the 76ers last season was Brand’s last time on an NBA court in the regular season. And in an offseason that saw Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett retire, Brand’s second retirement will fly under the radar.

He never won an MVP award, he never won an NBA championship, and he was only part of two teams with a winning record in his career (Clippers, 2005-06 and Hawks 2014-15). But as Fran Blinebury of writes, it was Brand the person – not the player – who defined his character.

“What was not to like? He was affable and unfailingly polite, greeting security guards at arenas and every reporter with a notepad or microphone by name. He held open doors for assistant coaches and strangers, chatted with ushers and concession vendors and rarely let anyone see him without a smile on his face.”

The only remaining players who were drafted in the 1990s are Vince Carter, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Metta World Peace. World Peace may not even make the Lakers roster and Pierce has confirmed 2016-17 will be his final season.

The NBA is, however, slowly losing its identity from one generation ago and losing Brand is a huge part of it.

Dallas Mavericks
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