Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A model employee retires

I read where Shareef has retired after a terrific career in which he averaged 18 ppg and 7.5 rpg over 12 seasons.

It takes a special player to put up numbers like that and he should be proud of not only what he did on the court, but the way he carried himself off of it. Reef was a real pro.

It was a genuine pleasure having been with him for two years in Atlanta when I was an assistant and then for a year with the Kings. Reef was a player who led by example, going about his job in a quiet manner. Never complaining. Coming to work every day. Taking extra shots before and after practice.

With the Hawks, I was amazed at how hard he pushed himself in the summers. He had a clear routine and followed it carefully. [He would work out with Rodney Heard.]

Some players can be high maintenance. Others are low maintenance. Reef was no maintenance. If he was working for a big company, he'd be considered a model employee.

When he was with ATL, he was primarily a 3- or 4-man. In Sacramento, he had become a more of a 4 or 5. He adapted and evolved as he got older and his knees started giving him more problems.

Away from basketball, Reef took his spirituality seriously, honoring his religion. I remember that he'd fast for a month during Ramadan while continuing to play every night. It seemed like it actually made him stronger and more focused, which always impressed me.

Best of luck to Shareef as he begins the next chapter of his life. I hope our paths cross again.