Sports

Dickerson’s basketball comeback put on hold

Michael Dickerson’s NBA comeback didn’t last too long.

The best basketball player to come out of Federal Way was released by the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday in order to attend to an undisclosed personal matter that caused him to leave the team’s training camp Oct. 1.

According to the Cavaliers, he was unable to pursue his return to the NBA at this time, while addressing the personal matter, but expects to still pursue a return to the league in the future.

The 6-foot-5 Federal Way High School grad was attempting a comeback after a five-year retirement from the NBA. Dickerson, a 1994 grad, was forced to call it quits before the 2003 season after five years in the NBA after his career was stalled by numerous injuries.

“I never wanted to retire. I always wanted to play basketball – that was all I knew what to do,” Dickerson said on the Cavaliers’ official Web site. “So, I just kept that option open. I was feeling good, and my agent, Mark Bartelstein, said I had the opportunity to come to Cleveland. So I accepted the opportunity.”

Dickerson averaged 15.4 points and 2.6 assists in 212 games with the Houston Rockets and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies during his NBA career.

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 2002-03 season 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.

Following his retirement from basketball, Dickerson travelled around the world before landing in India for close to three years.

“Just after the retirement, there were a lot of unanswered questions,” Dickerson said on www.clevelandcavaliers.com. “I had just signed a contract and I was progressing in my career. And to have my career taken away from me, I was seeking answers. So I started studying different cultures, different environments. And I found more answers in India than I had anywhere else in my entire life.”

Dickerson spent much of his time in India studying ancient scriptures and healing his mind and body.

“The soul drew me there,” he said.

During his time away from the NBA, Dickerson didn’t really pick up a basketball, but stayed in shape thanks to boxing, martial arts and yoga.

“Basically my brothers and my cousins and my dad, they do that training,” he said. “So I just stay in shape with it more than anything. I do a little bit of both (boxing and martial arts). And I do a couple different kinds of yoga and breathing exercises.”

“Obviously with him not playing in the last five years and then missing a lot of training camp days, it is not going to help his cause,” Cleveland head coach Mike Brown told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “When it comes to personal matters, though, that is more important than what we do. That other stuff is real.”

Brown and the rest of the coaching staff had been impressed with Dickerson during the first few days of training camp.

“The guys here are great – they’re supportive,” Dickerson said. “The NBA guys supported me. They know what I can do when I’m at the top of my game.”

Dickerson played at Decatur his sophomore season in high school and then transferred to Federal Way for his final two prep years. 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.

After high school, Dickerson played four seasons at the University of Arizona for Lute Olson. During his college tenure, the Wildcats reached the Final Four three times, winning the NCAA title in 1998. He averaged 13.8 points a game while at Arizona, including 18.0 as a senior.

Dickerson was then selected by the Houston Rockets with the No. 14-overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft.

In his first year in Houston, Dickerson was named to the All-Rookie Second Team before being traded to the Grizzlies in the offseason. While in Vancouver, he averaged 18.2 points a game during the 1999-2000 season and 16.9 the next year before the injuries starting taking their toll.

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

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