Caron Butler, who spent six years with the Wizards, announced his retirement Tuesday morning on Players’ Tribune. He spoke fondly of his time in Washington, where he earned both of his All-Star appearances, in his farewell letter:
I was only in L.A. for a season, then I got traded to Washington. And it’s interesting, that second trade didn’t really hurt. I understood at that point that it was just a good basketball decision. The Wizards had a young group of talented players, and I was excited to get an opportunity to play there.
For the next six years I’d be a Wizard, an All-Star and have some of the best years of my life, playing with Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood, and this kid named Gilbert Arenas, who was ballin’ all over the place — and he wasn’t even calling himself Hibachi yet. I’ll always remember how much the people in D.C. loved that team — L.A. and Miami were great cities to play in, but Washington was where I spent the majority of my career, and the place I will always consider my second basketball home.
Butler played a key role in changing the perception of the Wizards from a laughingstock into a team to be taken seriously — don’t forget he was brought to town in the deal that shipped out the Wizards’ infamous draft flop Kwame Brown. More importantly, his steadiness and grit were the perfect foil to Gilbert Arenas’ explosive, but carefree style. Plus, he was a big part of why the Wizards were able to stay successful as Arenas’ knees began to break down.
Sadly, Butler never got to enjoy the playoff success he deserved to find in Washington. The team never won a playoff series while he was on the team, though it can hardly be blamed on his efforts. He had an 18 point, 20 rebound performance in the team’s elimination loss to the Cavaliers in 2006. He broke his hand shortly before the team’s playoff run in 2007. Then, in 2008 he kept the team’s season alive with a 32 point performance, including the game-winner, to stave off elimination in Cleveland.
Thankfully, Butler got the playoff success he deserved in Dallas, where he, along with DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood, helped the Mavericks win the 2011 NBA Finals over LeBron James and the Heat.
Butler retires with the seventh-most steals in franchise history. The only players with more are franchise stalwarts John Wall, Greg Ballard, Elvin Hayes, Phil Chenier, Gilbert Arenas, and Wes Unseld.