After going into what he termed “semi-retirement” after his 2014-15 campaign with the Chicago Bulls, the 38-year-old big man signed a new contract with Oklahoma City on Saturday. That makes this season the 18th of Mohammed’s career, and the Thunder are undoubtedly hoping he can bring the same sort of defensive presence off the bench that he did when he played on Oklahoma City’s 2011-12 NBA Finals squad.
Mohammed, however, has always been known for more than merely his impact on the floor. The University of Kentucky product is very highly regarded for his locker-room presence, and his unique insight can easily be seen in the blog he wrote announcing his return:
Check out my latest blog on why “I’m Back”…. https://t.co/3LcIKzQilA
— Nazr Mohammed (@NazrMohammed) March 5, 2016
“This is a chance for me to have true closure with the game — as opposed to it just ending — in an environment that I feel is great for me,” said Mohammed, who has played on eight NBA teams. “As I’ve been going through the process of realizing that I was probably never going to play again, I started to appreciate watching Kobe’s farewell tour.
“I envied Kobe, not for his multiple championships, MVP’s, All-Star appearances, career earnings, etc., but because he has the opportunity to say goodbye to the game,” he added. “That’s closure that most players don’t get. Like I said, most players don’t get to choose when they will end their careers; it gets ended for them.”
Mohammed’s blog also includes tidbits on his fitness regimen (spoiler: he’s very much in shape and ready to go), why he believes Oklahoma City can win a championship this season, and how he made the decision to return to his NBA career in consultation with his wife and children.
“I’m ready to give whatever I have in any capacity, mentally and physically,” Mohammed said in closing. “I’m ready to leave it all out there on the court and in that locker room. This is my last go-round, and I’d like to help this team end the season as NBA champions.”
Ben DuBose is a veteran sports reporter who has followed the Houston Rockets and the NBA since Hakeem Olajuwon was Akeem Olajuwon. He writes for both SheridanHoops and ClutchFans, an independent Rockets blog. You can follow him on Twitter and listen to his NBA podcast.