Former Cleveland Cavalier and NBA champion Richard Jefferson retires

Richard Jefferson retired on Saturday, a month after his father was killed in a drive-by-shooting.
Richard Jefferson retired on Saturday, a month after his father was killed in a drive-by-shooting.

Richard Jefferson, a former NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a 17-year veteran, has decided it’s time to retire.

His retirement announcement was his first post on his newly created Instagram account and in it he paid tribute to basketball and his late father:

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In Memory of Richard Jefferson Sr.


Last month, his father, Richard Jefferson Sr., was standing outside a liquor store in Compton, California when he was shot in a drive-by. He later died at a nearby hospital.

“In the last month I’ve dealt with two life changing events back to back,” Jefferson wrote on Instagram. “My decision to move on from basketball and the tragic passing of Big Rich. The support of my family and friends have been huge.”

Jefferson’s post was a clip of his father dancing and singing after a summer barbecue.

“He really was a true OG. I’m going to miss all his one-liners, his cooking and his ability to make a whole room laugh,” Jefferson wrote.

Veteran career

Jefferson first entered the national spotlight playing for Lute Olson and the Arizona Wildcats from 1998 to 2001. He helped the Wildcats reach the 2001 NCAA championship where they lost 82-72 to Duke.

Jefferson was then drafted 13th overall in the 2001 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets before being traded to the New Jersey Nets. He helped the Nets reach the NBA championships in 2002 and 2003, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs respectively.

He would represent Team USA in the 2004 Summer Olympics, helping the men’s basketball team win the bronze medal.

Over his 17 seasons in the NBA, Jefferson played for eight different teams: the Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Cavaliers, and Denver Nuggets.

Championship Cavs

After his first two trips to the Finals with the Nets, Jefferson wouldn’t return until he joined the Cavaliers 13 years later. It was a gap that tied the NBA record for most seasons between Finals appearances by a player.

During that 2016 postseason, he became more known for his viral “Lil Kev” cutout than his play.

Jefferson found a cardboard cutout that looked like Cavs teammate Kevin Love that he carried around with him during the postseason while filming his adventures on social media. It was meant as a way of connecting with fans and might have been the lucky charm as the Cavs went on to win the championship over the Warriors with Jefferson averaging 5.7 points and 5.3 rebounds off the bench.

Richard Jefferson helped the Cleveland Cavaliers dig from a 3-1 hole to win the 2016 NBA Finals over the Warriors. (AP Photo)
Richard Jefferson helped the Cleveland Cavaliers dig from a 3-1 hole to win the 2016 NBA Finals over the Warriors. (AP Photo)

Cleveland reached the Finals again the next season, but lost to Golden State in five games. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks last October and then waived. He signed with Denver shortly after, but played in just 20 games during the regular season. 

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