Off-Season Leavin'

The summer months are when NBA players get a chance to rest their bodies after a long, grueling 82-game season.

It's even more crucial for teams like the L.A. Lakers and Boston Celtics who had played their way through a long playoff season as well.

I understand the need for the break. Basketball is not an easy game to play multiple times a week while flying from city to city, but this year's batch of players seem much more interested in a permanent break than they do in a summer vacation.

Shaquille O'Neal was the first to come out and say he is hanging up his kicks when his contract expires.

I was fine with that.

The Big Aristotle has put in more than his fair share of work for the Association and will leave the game as one of the top-5 centers of all time.

Then you have Shareef Abdur-Rahim take a bow and quietly leave the game he played so well.

I was sad to see King Rahim leave as he was still young and could have produced so many more highlights if not for constant knee injuries. But he knows the limitations of his knee, and I can respect him for not playing past his prime and further injuring himself.

Now is when I am going to start taking issue.

Jason Williams announced his retirement today, and while he was a great player, I am not going to give him the same fond farewell I gave to King Rahim. Williams introduced "street" style passing and swagger to the NBA and was part of the most exciting team of all time with the Sacramento Kings of the early 2000s.

He starred for the Memphis Grizzlies when no one cared about them and he helped the Miami Heat win an NBA Championship. Sure, he isn't anywhere near the player he was when people knew exactly what the name "J-Will" meant. He can't fill it up quite as much and he can't turn heads with mind-boggling passes as often.

But instead of finding his swagger or using the trade to the L.A. Clippers as a chance to be "J-Will" one last time, he quit. He didn't retire, he quit.

Williams played 10 years in the NBA. Shaq is ready to play his 17th season and he has to carry much more weight and has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his career.

But Shaq can still make a difference, so he shows up to work and jumps into the first row for a loose ball during a regular season game. Williams can still make a difference and he walks away because he struggles.

Does Williams even remember the off-the-elbow pass to Raef LaFrentz, or does he only see less playing time because Baron Davis is ahead of him?

Consider me highly disappointed in your decision to leave the game when you still have so much left to give.

As if Williams picking up his ball and going home because he was traded to the Clippers wasn't bad enough, we now have Dirk Nowitzki pretty much saying he is done when his contract expires.

Come on Dirk, keep your mouth shut about stuff like this. Sure, when your contract is up, it will be 13 years in the league and maybe you are done, but saying it now is immature and a total distraction.

The Mavericks can't win a championship when they have the best team in the league (See 2006 Finals for example). How does Dirk expect to win a championship when questions will be raised about his desire and passion for the game anytime he has a bad night?

I really hope this "announce retirement in advance" trend doesn't continue into future seasons. Hopefully the headaches the Mavericks will have to deal with this year will show players who were thinking about giving advance warning about their retirement that it is not worth it.

Oh, by the way....The Chicago Tribune just broke the story that Derrick Rose has announced he will retire in 2020.