‘The family and I are un-jet-lagged, unpacked and officially settled. It is great being back’, said Simien, who lives with his wife and two children in Lawrence. ‘We had a fabulous time in Spain and it was a great cultural experience. I had a good season on the court and we made some really great friends.’
‘As far as my basketball future is concerned, I am officially retiring from playing professionally. I still love the game of basketball, can play at a high level and make a great living, however I have more of a passion to pursue other things. That passion being for Christian ministry and youth athletics.
“I will be ministering through the ‘Called To Greatness’ organization (iamctg.org) that I started last year, as well as working with Morningstar Church ministering to the youth and college students.”
Simien had been playing in Spain this past season, for a team called Caceres in the LEB Gold (second division). It wasn’t the greatest standard of basketball in the world, and Caceres only finished 11th with a 15-19 record, but Simien produced, averaging 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds on 62% shooting in the 15 games that he played.
More importantly, the stay in Spain represented a return to basketball and to full health for Simien, who hadn’t played the previous season, and who only played eight games in 2006-07 due to contracting salmonella. This, sadly, is what many people will mainly remember him for. God knows how you catch it twice, but Simien did, and it’s a legacy he probably doesn’t want.
Simien’s college career was brilliant, but his NBA career was less so. Drafted by the Heat with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2005 draft, Simien had a fairly promising rookie year, averaging 3.4 ppg and 2.0 rpg on 48.3% shooting in limited minutes on a Heat team that won the championship that year. Unfortunately, Simien contracted his first case of salmonella during the NBA finals that year, and was sick for much of the summer. He returned for training camp, and began the season with the team, but then the disease recurred around about Christmas time. The illness, recovery, fatigue and hefty weight loss ended his season, and he played in only eight games in the 2006/07 season.
Worse still, in the 2007 offseason, Simien suffered the indignity of being salary-dumped to the Minnesota Timberwolves as a part of the Mark Blount/Antoine Walker/Ricky Davis trade thing. Minnesota waived him the same week they got him, and Simien didn’t play at all that season. In the summer of 2008, he got a roster spot on the Cleveland Cavaliers summer league team, but couldn’t play due to a hamstring injury. After that, he signed with Caceres…and now we’re back to the start, with Simien retiring to join the church.
He seems happy, though, so good luck to him.
In other retirement news, Bucks draftee and mere technicality Eurelijius Zukauskas retired this week, as did former Denver Nuggets guard Predrag Savovic. But you haven’t heard of them, so they’re not as important.