Golden State Warriors

Bjelica, ex-King who won championship with Warriors, retires

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Nemanja Bjelica has called it a career.

The Warriors champion and former Kings forward announced his retirement from basketball in an Instagram post on Saturday.

"Lately I have read several official announcements by professional athletes talking about the end of their careers," the 35-year-old Bjelica wrote in a statement. "That got me thinking that when the time comes, I would personally try to avoid such a moment, as I have always been a private person and have tried to keep my media appearances short and only related to basketball.

"Somewhere not long ago I read that no one has ever won a race against time. Over the last years I have become fully aware of that. Even now, after 20 years devoting myself to the game, I feel the need to officially announce that the end has come."

Bjelica, who was a second-round pick in 2010, came to the NBA from overseas in 2015. He spent his first three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves before signing with Sacramento in 2018.

The 6-10 Serbian forward started 138 of 175 total appearances with the Kings over two-plus seasons, averaging 10.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 24.2 minutes per game.

"When I arrived to the NBA I had to adjust and change my style of playing completely, but I do not regret," Bjelica said. "Firstly, Zarko Djurisic during my stay in Minnesota and then Vlade Divac and Peja Stojaković in Sacramento gave me new motivation and challenges and pushed me into new victories."

Following a midseason trade from Sacramento to the Miami Heat, Bjelica signed with the Warriors in the 2021 offseason. He made 71 regular-season appearances with Golden State, averaging 6.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 16.1 minutes per game.

Bjelica then made 15 postseason appearances, averaging 2.9 points in 10 minutes per game, as the Dubs captured the 2022 NBA title.

"Finally, and the peak of my professional career, was getting the championship ring with the Golden State Warriors and coach Steve Kerr, who showed me that basketball is more than winning," Bjelica said.

Bjelica also shouted out late Warriors assistant coach Dejan Milojević as he thanked those who "have supported me and contributed to the development of my career."

The Warriors' title-winning campaign marked Bjelica's final NBA season. He played for the Turkish club Fenerbahçe Beko in 2022-23.

Bjelica hangs up the sneakers having made 162 starts and 449 total appearances over seven NBA seasons, averaging 7.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists. He was a career 38.4 percent 3-point shooter and 46.6 percent shooter overall.

A former EuroLeague MVP, Bjelica also captured silver while playing for Serbia in the FIBA EuroBasket and FIBA World Cup.

It's unclear what's next for Bjelica now that his playing days are over, but he seems set to remain in basketball in some sort of capacity.

"I'm officially retiring as a basketball player, but I am looking forward to new challenges in the sport that I love and that has given me everything," Bjelica said.

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