Shareef Abdur-Rhahim officially announced his retirement today, prompting fans outside of Sacramento to stop and ask themselves, "Wait, Shareef Abdur-Rahim was still playing?" Well, not really; he was limited to just six games last year before undergoing surgery on his right knee. Unfortunately, nearly a year later, his knee still wouldn't cooperate. From Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee:
"I've been in a situation where I've been trying to get healthy over the last year and a half," Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. "I came to grips with the fact that, health-wise, I won't be able to get back to the condition and level that is needed to play in the NBA. My right knee has become arthritic over the years and is to the point where it won't allow me to do the things and play at the level in which I'm accustomed to playing. As tough as it is to come to grips with, it's the reality."
My guess is that Abdur-Rahim is receiving some kind of medical settlement -- he was due a combined $12.8 million over this season and next, and people just don't walk away from that kind of money. That said, it doesn't appear the Kings will see any salary cap relief until next summer.
In any case, Abdur-Rahim retires as one of the most underrated players of his era. By the time he made his first and only All-Star game in 2002, he'd already won an Olympic gold medal in Sydney two years earlier. All told he probably should have made five or six All-Star teams, but anonymity was the price he paid for playing on some truly awful teams -- he set the NBA record by appearing in 744 regular season games before playing his first playoff game in 2006.