Turkish National Basketball Association star Mehmet Okur officially announced his retirement from basketball this week at the age of 33. He finished with career averages of 13.5 points and seven rebounds per game over 10 NBA seasons. He played for the Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz and New Jersey Nets. He cited injuries as being the primary reason for his early retirement. Here is his official statement:
Right now, as a 33 year-old Iâ€™m putting an end to my basketball career that I started in 1993 when I was 14 years old. Despite starting late, I pursued my basketball career with determination and love. I had the honour of having countless individual and team success in my career. Silver medal that we won in 2001 European Championship was the first medal for Turkey in team-sports, and then I became the first Turkish player to become an allstar in the NBA and the first Turkish player to win an NBA title.
I represented my country at the highest level possible for many years, but after having back-to-back injuries in the recent years, despite all my effort to come back; I understood that I can not be the old Mehmet Okur again. While working out with my private trainer, I got offers many NBA teams and elite teams from Europe. However, Once your body doesnâ€™t allow you to be as good as you were in the past and If you are used to playing at a certain level. I think itâ€™s time to say goodbye to the sport that you love very much. That time has came for Mehmet Okur.
I have became who I am thanks to my family, my coaches, my team mates, and the Turkish people who always supported me. So, Big Thanks to everyone who supported me in this exciting 19-year journey.â€
Okur won an NBA Championship in 2004 as a member of the Pistons before signing a six-year, $50 million contract with the Jazz, who he represented in the 2006-07 NBA All-Star Game. He played in 17 games for the Nets last season and was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in the deal that put Gerald Wallace in a Netsâ€™ uniform. Okur was released by the Blazers last March.
Okur was originally the 37th overall selection (second round) of the 2001 NBA Draft by Detroit. Prior to that he played for Turkish team Efes Pilsen, with whom he won a Turkish League championship in 2002. He is married to actress and former Miss Turkey finalist Yeliz Ã‡alÄ±ÅŸkan. They have a daughter, Melisa, age five, and a son, YiÄŸit Mehmet, age two.