Sports

Dickerson retires after five NBA seasons

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

The best basketball player to come out of Federal Way called it quits Saturday. Memphis Grizzlies guard Michael Dickerson retired from the National Basketball Association after a five-year career that was stalled by numerous injuries.

“This is a sad day for me,” Dickerson said on the official Memphis Grizzlies Web site. “I am grateful to the entire Grizzlies organization for their unwavering support and encouragement throughout my career and especially the lengthy process to attempt to rehab my injuries.”

Dickerson averaged 15.4 points and 2.6 assists in 212 games with the Houston Rockets and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies. But he played in only 10 games the past two seasons because of health problems, including a serious groin strain.

Dickerson played at Decatur his sophomore season in high school and then transferred to Federal Way for his final two prep years — playing for longtime coach Jerome Collins. Dickerson led Federal Way to back-to-back state tournament appearances in 1993 and ‘94, leading the Eagles to a third-place finish his senior year — the highest in the school’s history.

“I had a great career in high school, college and in the NBA,” Dickerson said on the Grizzlies’ Web site. “It’s just unfortunate that my pro career was cut short due to my injuries. Now, I want to move my energy and focus from the basketball court and put it into helping kids and working to support youth in my community.”

Dickerson’s injury bad luck began on Nov. 6, 2001. Just four games into the season, against the Phoenix Suns, Dickerson landed wrong, causing a stress fracture in his groin area. He missed the rest of the season for Memphis.

After being cleared by doctors to start the last season (2002-03) with the Grizzlies, Dickerson was forced again onto the injured list — this time just two games into the year — due to complications from the stress fracture. After three months of rehab, Dickerson returned and played just four more games before straining an abdominal muscle. He then developed a sports-related hernia.

“It’s just been a really tough decision,” Dickerson said on the Grizzlies Web site. “Unfortunately, I can’t play. I’ve gone through my aches and pains, but things just didn’t work out for me as a player right now.

“Now, I can be more than just a role model that kids see on television or at games. I can personally affect their lives in a positive manner every day. I plan to work with kids and establish a foundation to support youth in my hometown of Seattle and across the nation, including Memphis.”

After graduating from Federal Way, Dickerson went on to the University of Arizona, where he was a member of Arizona’s 1997 NCAA championship team. He was selected by Houston in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft — the 14th overall pick. He was acquired by the Grizzlies in a 1999 trade for guard Steve Francis and others.

“Michael will be missed,” Grizzlies head coach Hubie Brown said on the team’s site. “He is a pro’s pro. He was mentally and physically tough everyday. Michael had to overcome operations, incredible pain and rehabilitation work on a daily basis. This is a difficult decision for Michael, and we will certainly miss him.”

Dickerson’s best season came in 1999-00 for the Grizzlies. The 6-5 shooting guard averaged 18.2 points a game. He scored 16.3 during the 2000-01 season. He signed a six-year, $43 million contract extension before last season. The Grizzlies bought out the contract for an undisclosed amount and waived Dickerson Monday.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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