Last season, Nazr Mohammed got on the court in just 23 games for the Chicago Bulls and played a total of 128 minutes. I’d swear Tom Thibodeu played Jimmy Butler that many minutes in one game (or at least would if he could). The season before Thibodeau had leaned on Mohammed’s defense off the bench, but last season he mostly just had a front-row seat for games.
Now Mohammed is faced with the question that eventually haunts all athletes: Is it time to retire?
Mohammed has played 17 NBA seasons, won a ring (2005 Spurs) and earned north of $65 million in salary. He’s had a full career. Yet virtually every player that walks away, regardless of when and why, misses the game and the camaraderie.
I’m a free agent. After 17 seasons playing NBA basketball, I’m currently at a point where I’m trying to decide what I do next – continue playing basketball or pursue a post-playing career. There are a few factors in play that are making this decision kind of tough for me….
Years ago I decided that I was going to play until I couldn’t play anymore or until nobody else wanted me to play for them anymore – whichever came first. That way you know you have maximized your ability to compete as a professional athlete. And neither of those things has happened yet. It’s funny because I’ve found that over these last three or four years, so many times when I bump into a retired NBA player or even a guy who played overseas, they come up to me and say, “Hey, don’t stop playing. Keep playing until the wheels fall off!”…
But while I love playing basketball, I am considering moving on and taking advantage of some of the opportunities that are coming my way in the business of basketball. One of my goals is to one day become a general manager of an NBA team, and there are opportunities presenting themselves that will allow me to take a step in that direction and get my foot in the door. There are only so many jobs in the business of basketball and there are a lot of people that want them. So part of this for me is a fear of missing a good opportunity to get into a business that I definitely have a lot of passion for. On the other hand, while these specific opportunities will no longer be available to me in a year (if I decide to continue to play), there’s always the chance of new opportunities arising.
Mohammed also said he really enjoyed broadcasting after going through the union’s program designed to help players who want to transition over to the media.
Like a lot of veterans, Mohammed said he’s not willing to just play anywhere anymore, there are only “8 or 9” teams he would consider. And not all of those require his services.
Mohammed is the kind of player that may not have an offer he likes on the table right now, but as training camp opens and teams get a better sense of what their weaknesses are (or, someone gets injured) his phone could ring. Does he want to wait that out or move on into more of a front office role? Or try to find a broadcasting fit?
Where Mohammed has an advantage over a lot of athletes facing the end of their career, he has other options.