Feb. 6 (UPI) — Veteran forward Caron Butler officially retired from the NBA on Tuesday, following a 14-year playing career.
Butler played for nine teams and was an All-Star twice during his NBA tenure. He announced his decision with an article for The Players’ Tribune.
“It was 16 years ago when I arrived in Miami to start my NBA career. Back then if you’d told me I was gonna play for nine different teams, for more than a decade and a half, I’d have a look on my face as indescribable as my mom’s on the plane that day,” Butler wrote.
“But here I am. It’s been a great ride and truly a blessing. But everything runs its course, even good things. Today, I’m retiring from the NBA.”
Butler, 37, was the No. 10 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. He averaged 15.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in his first season for the Miami Heat. He was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 as part of the Shaquille O’Neal deal. He was traded to the Washington Wizards in 2005 and traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 2010. Butler signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011. He was traded again in 2013, when the Clippers sent him to the Phoenix Suns.
Butler was traded once more in 2013 to the Milwaukee Bucks. He signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Detroit Pistons in 2014. The Pistons traded Butler back to the Bucks in 2015, before he signed on with the Sacramento Kings that summer.
He began his Players’ Tribune article by talking about his first ride in a private jet with Pat Riley after getting drafted by the Heat. Butler talked about the transition from the luxurious welcome to the awakening of the basketball grind under Riley.
“I was lucky that I’d already been through a lot in my life,” Butler wrote. “Miami’s reputation for nightlife could’ve derailed some young guys, but it never worried me. I’d had my first child at age 14. I was arrested more than a dozen times in my teenage years. At age 16, I was incarcerated after police found drugs and a pistol in my locker at school. I almost lost everything on more than one occasion, and I lost a lot of people close to me at a very young age. So I wasn’t looking for a good time, not by the time I made the NBA. By then, basketball was something I was going to protect at all costs. I’d come too far to let the noise distract me.”
He said he was initially hurt when he learned of the 2004 trade, but “the sting didn’t last very long.” Butler talked about riding around Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant and forgetting why he was upset in the first place. He profiled his other stops in the league, before talking about his mom.
“I can’t say it was as easy for my family. I’ve played for nine different teams over the course of my career,” Butler wrote. “We once moved to Phoenix for 30 days. My wife, Andrea, had to put up with a lot of moving. My children were always the new kids at their school. My mom – actually my mom was just consistently proud of me the entire time. I could score one basket and she’d be upset I wasn’t named player of the game. [Thanks, Mom].”
Butler made more than $83 million in on-the-court salary during his NBA career. After thanking the people who helped him along the way, Butler said that he plans to stay around the game “in some form or another.”