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Al Harrington appeared to be having the time of his life in announcing he would no longer being doing the one thing that’s always seemed to be his life’s work.
The 35-year-old, 16-year veteran forward announced his NBA retirement this week, yet the moment was as refreshing as any he’s experienced over his time in the Association in that he made it a point of taking the time to salute everyone who made his improbable, life-changing run all the more possible.
“I’m very happy with what I was able to accomplish,” he told the Denver Post. “I was able to change a lot of people’s lives in my family, including myself in a game that I eventually fell in love with and will always be in love with. And hopefully I can stay around the game until I die. It was a fun ride. It went by fast, too. It was like one minute I was 18, the next I was 25 then was 30 and now I’m 35.”
And over that time, Al Harrington became a man’s man, a pro’s pro. Harrington made the NBA jump straight out of St. Patrick High School in New Jersey, averaging 14 points and six rebounds over his career. He joins Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O’Neal, and Rashard Lewis as just one of five players to play more than 15 NBA seasons after making the jump straight from high school.
When the Nuggets recently decided to part ways with coach Brian Shaw and install Melvin Hunt for at least the rest of the season, one of the first calls the rookie coach made was to Harrington to extend him an invitation to join the staff as a tutor and mentor for some of the team’s young big men.
Harrington didn’t hesitate to answer the call, assuring Hunt that he would actively be on the job in a matter of days.
In all, Harrington played for six different NBA teams, including seven seasons with the Pacers, where helped lead the team to the Eastern Conference in 2004. Harrington’s best statistical season came with the Knicks in 2008, when he averaged 21 points and six rebounds. Harrington tried playing in China this season, spending 56 days with the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association. But that really never was Al Harrington.
“I missed my family so much,” he said. “There’s only so much FaceTime I can do. I saw them walking around the house, which made me even more homesick. So, I had to get back home to the family.”
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