KEY POINTS

  • LaMarcus Aldridge recently announced his retirement from the NBA
  • Aldridge is just the latest to shock the basketball world with his retirement
  • Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Brandon Roy were some of the players to announce stunning retirements

In the NBA, retirement is often seen coming. 

As players grow older, they dramatically yield their physical gifts such as speed, strength, and explosiveness, which soon becomes a sign to call it a career. 

Some cagers retire at the very end of the season, while others announce their intentions to leave at the start of the year and go on a “farewell tour” of sorts for the rest of the season. 

Tim Duncan bid goodbye to the game quietly at the end of the 2015-2016 season, while Dwyane Wade’s final run in 2018-2019 was a spectacle filled with tributes and jersey swaps. 

Other athletes, however, weren’t given the opportunity to savor their final games in the league because they had to retire quite abruptly. 

Here are some of the most sudden and shocking retirements in the NBA.


LaMarcus Aldridge

 LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs Photo: Getty Images | Alex Goodlett

At 35 years old, LaMarcus Aldridge was no doubt in the tail-end of his career, but many believed that he still had at least two more good years in him.

In the middle of the 2020-2021 season, a heart condition forced Aldridge to abruptly call it a career. He had just played five games with the Brooklyn Nets and was expected to be a key piece in their postseason hopes.

READ ALSO: LaMarcus Aldridge Receives Heartfelt Tribute After Announcing Retirement

After 15 years in the NBA, Aldridge stated that it was finally time to focus on his health first. 


Brandon Roy

Fittingly enough, Aldridge’s former teammate Brandon Roy also called it a career quite suddenly.

Roy played just five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, but during that stretch, it looked as though he was the franchise’s new face.

He was a star in the making, but lingering knee problems ultimately shortened his career. Roy missed the entire 2011-2012 season but attempted to make a comeback in the following season, with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Unfortunately for Roy, he would re-injure his knee and end up retiring after just five games. He is definitely one of the biggest ‘What Ifs” in NBA history. 

Michael Jordan

The Last Dance focuses on the 1998 playoffs when Michael Jordan won his sixth and last title as the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in the finals The Last Dance focuses on the 1998 playoffs when Michael Jordan won his sixth and last title as the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in the finals Photo: AFP / ROBERT SULLIVAN

Michael Jordan is one of the very few players in the NBA who were able to retire thrice. While his second and third retirements from basketball were expected, his first one took everyone by storm.

Right before the 1993-1994 NBA season, Jordan shocked the world by announcing his retirement from the NBA and his intentions to pursue a career in professional baseball.

At the time, Jordan was in his prime, at just 30 years old and coming off a three-peat. He went on to miss the entire 93-94 NBA season, but he ultimately returned to the league late the following year.

Jordan went on to win three more titles before retiring again in 1998. He returned to the league in 2001 and played two more seasons before finally leaving the sport for good. 

Magic Johnson

No. 2 – Earvin Magic Johnson Earvin “Magic” Johnson was born in August 14, 1959. He was one of the tallest point guards in the game 6ft 9. He won 5 NBA Championships and 3 NBA Finals MVPs. He got his nickname "Magic" because of his unbelievable no look passes that even his teammates had difficulty anticipating. Johnson was first called "Magic" after a game he played when he was a 15-year-old at Everett High School in Michigan. In that particular game, he recorded a triple-double with 36 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists. Photo: Reuters

Perhaps no other retirement had people stunned than that of the great Magic Johnson. From 1979 to 1991, he was one of the best players in the NBA, and his five NBA Championship rings and 11 All-Star appearances can back that up.

After leading the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 1991, Johnson announced that he was HIV positive and would be retiring immediately.

Johnson came back for 32 games in the 1995-1996 NBA season before calling it a career completely. 

Isiah Thomas

Isiah Thomas has been fired as head coach of FIU after three seasons coaching the Miami university's men's basketball team. Isiah Thomas has been fired as head coach of FIU after three seasons coaching the Miami university's men's basketball team. Photo: Reuters Isiah Thomas played just 13 years in the NBA but definitely left a mark as one of the league’s best players ever.

The 12-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion ended up retiring early due to a torn Achilles in the 1993-1994 NBA season.

These days, players have been able to successfully return after an Achilles injury. Back then, treatment for the injury wasn’t as advanced as it is today.