After eight seasons as a member of the Sacramento Kings in a career that spanned 15 seasons, Peja Stojakovic will receive the ultimate honour.
The Kings announced earlier this evening on Twitter that they will retire Serbian legend Peja Stojakovic’s number 16 jersey in mid-December.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) September 16, 2014
“I feel so blessed to have been given the athletic gifts to play professional basketball,” he said following his retirement in 2011. “I have always loved the game and have great respect for it.”
A fresh-faced 18-year-old Stojakovic was chosen with the 14th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, arguably one of the strongest ever classes with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash amongst those picked.
Injuries though delayed the Serbian’s entrance into the NBA spotlight, but it wasn’t long before he wowed audiences across America.
Stojakovic was a pivotal member of the Kings squad that won back-to-back Pacific Division titles and a club-record 61 games in 2001-2002.
It was in 2001 where the Serb enjoyed his best ever season in the NBA – averaging 20.8 points per game and shooting 40 percent from deep.
Over his first seven and a half seasons, the 6-foot-10 forward set multiple franchise records from behind the arc. Thanks to his quick launch and seemingly effortless release, he pulled the trigger on 2,687 three-pointers and drained 1,070 of them – both tops among Kings players since 1948.
Stojakovic played his final three seasons with the Dallas Mavericks before calling it a day in 2011.
Throughout the course of his memorable career, Stojakovic took home 2003-04 All-NBA Second Team honours, hoisted the three-point shooting contest trophy twice, notched three All-Star game appearances, a gold medal in the 2002 World Cup games with the former Yugoslavia national team and the 2011 NBA title.
“Peja will go down as one of the great shooters in the history of the NBA,” said former NBA Commissioner David Stern. “His success was the result of a tireless work ethic and an unquenchable desire to be the best at what he did. Peja’s legacy, however, goes way beyond his 3-point skills and that elusive Finals title he won last season with the Dallas Mavericks. Peja was part of the wave of international stars that helped introduce the world to the NBA game and inspired thousands of fans to begin playing the sport of basketball.”