Slovenian guard Goran Dragic announces his retirement after a 15-year NBA career

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FILE - Miami Heat's Goran Dragic (7) puts up a shot against Milwaukee Bucks' Wesley Matthews (9), right, during the first half an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, USA. Goran Dragic, a former All-Star guard with the Miami Heat and the leader of Slovenias team that won the EuroBasket championship in 2017, has announced his retirement. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

MIAMI – Goran Dragic, a former All-Star guard with the Miami Heat and the leader of Slovenia's team that won the EuroBasket championship in 2017, announced his retirement on Sunday.

Dragic spent 15 seasons in the NBA and played for seven teams — Phoenix, Houston, Chicago, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Toronto and the Heat. He was part of the All-NBA team in 2013-14, the same season in which he was voted the league's most improved player, and made his lone All-Star appearance in 2018.

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“I have lived my greatest dream and I am extremely grateful for the countless people in my life who have enabled me to play this long,” Dragic said. “It starts with my parents, Marinko and Mojca, my brother, Zoran, my kids, Mateo and Vikorita and their mother Maja, and the rest of my family who always allowed this passion of basketball to be a priority for me.”

Dragic intends to have a retirement celebration this summer in Ljubljana, Slovenia, likely after the Paris Olympics conclude. There are tentative plans to announce details of that celebration later this week.

The 37-year-old Dragic spoke often in recent years about what the 2017 EuroBasket win meant to him, especially considering that it is generally considered to be Slovenia's finest moment in team sports. Dragic averaged 22.6 points and 5.1 assists in the nine games at that tournament and finished off the gold with 35 points in the title game win over rival Serbia, his father's homeland. Slovenia is his mother's homeland.

He became a national hero, receiving one of Slovenia’s highest civilian honors after that tournament, and was brought to tears by a gift of a jersey from the mother of one of his idols, the late star Drazen Petrovic.

“It was everything,” Dragic said.

A young guard on that 2017 Slovenia team that Dragic mentored: Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic.

“It was an amazing run for him,” Doncic said Saturday, when word began to leak out of Europe that Dragic's retirement announcement was imminent. “I'm just glad I know him, I'm glad I played with him and man, I learned a lot about him, especially about leadership in that tournament.”

Dragic was beloved in Miami, where he and his family continue to maintain homes. When he was a free agent in 2020, the Heat surprised Dragic with billboards in his native Slovenia, with slogans such as “Your second family is always with you.” That gesture, Dragic said, was deeply moving and led to him quickly re-signing with the Heat.

The left-handed Dragic was the 45th overall pick in the 2008 draft by San Antonio. He averaged 13.3 points and 4.7 assists in his career, and averaged 20 points in a season twice — in 2013-14 with Phoenix, and 2016-17 with the Heat.

He helped Miami reach the NBA Finals in 2020, the season that ended in the bubble at Walt Disney World because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dragic hurt his foot early in that series and appeared in only two games, an injury that seriously impacted Miami's chances at a title.

“Can you do something for me?” he asked a reporter when that series against the Los Angeles Lakers ended, the Heat having lost in six games. “Tell the fans we really tried and I’m sorry. I really tried.”

Dragic thanked a long list of people for their involvement in his career, including David Stern and Adam Silver — the NBA’s two commissioners during his tenure — along with coaches, team executives and his agents Rade Filipovich and Bill Duffy.

“All good things come to an end but this dream of basketball will always be with me,” Dragic said.



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