20 legendary players who finished their careers in the ‘wrong' uniform

Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and Willie Mays are three of the biggest stars to wear an unfamiliar jersey in their final seasons.

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Not all players get a storybook ending to their career.

In fact, most of the time it's the exact opposite. Former stars age out of their prime, and teams often disregard their franchise legends to move into a new era.

Klay Thompson, who signed with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason after 13 years with the Golden State Warriors, is a classic example. The sharpshooter won four titles while paired with Steph Curry to form the iconic "Splash Brothers" backcourt.

What other players ended their careers in unfamiliar colors? Here's a look at five stars from each major sport to retire in the "wrong" uniform:


Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards

The former Chicago Bulls star came out of retirement (again) in 2001 to join the Wizards. Over two seasons and 142 games in Washington, MJ averaged 21.2 points per game before walking away for good in 2003.

Shaquille O'Neal, Boston Celtics

Sure, O'Neal played for six teams in his 19-year career. But finishing it off with 37 games for Boston as a role player was especially strange after winning three Finals MVPs for the rival Los Angeles Lakers.

Hakeem Olajuwon, Toronto Raptors

After 17 seasons and two titles in Houston, Olajuwon ended his career north of the border for one forgettable season. In 61 games for the Raptors, The Dream averaged 7.1 points and 6.0 rebounds.

Split image of Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon
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Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon ended their Hall of Fame careers with unfamiliar teams.

Patrick Ewing, Orlando Magic

Ewing spent 15 seasons with the New York Knicks before one-year stops with the Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic. He was a bench player for Orlando in 2001-02, averaging a career-low 6.0 points over 65 games.

Tony Parker, Charlotte Hornets

From silver and black to teal and purple, Parker's uniform change was jarring. The 2007 Finals MVP spent 17 seasons in San Antonio before wrapping up his career as a reserve for Charlotte in 2018-19.


Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In 20 seasons for the New England Patriots, Brady became the GOAT -- six Super Bowls, three MVPs, 14 Pro Bowls. But he only built his legend over his final three seasons for Tampa Bay, winning a seventh Super Bowl before retiring at 45.

Joe Montana, Kansas City Chiefs

When the San Francisco 49ers picked Steve Young over him, Montana was traded to the Chiefs -- where he rocked the odd-looking No. 19. He led them to the AFC title game in 1993, then retired after the 1994 season.

Jerry Rice, Seattle Seahawks

Another core 49ers dynasty member ended his career in another city. Rice played three and a half seasons with the Oakland Raiders before a trade to Seattle, where he had 25 catches and three touchdowns in 11 games.

Split image of Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Jerry Rice
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Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Jerry Rice ended their careers with different teams after building dynasties for their original franchises.

Joe Namath, Los Angeles Rams

Broadway Joe spent 12 seasons as the face of the New York Jets before the team moved on. The Rams signed him for 1977, where he started four games before being benched and retiring at season's end.

Emmitt Smith, Arizona Cardinals

Smith, along with Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, was a face of the Dallas Cowboys' 1990s dynasty. Seeing him in red for the Cardinals, where he had 1,193 rushing yards in two seasons, will never look right.


Babe Ruth, Boston Braves

Ruth was famously sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, but that wasn't the end of his time in Massachusetts. The Bambino played 28 games for the Braves in 1935, hitting six home runs, before retiring mid-season.

Willie Mays, New York Mets

The late Mays, after 21 years with the New York and San Francisco Giants, returned to the Big Apple in a 1972 trade to the Mets. They lost in Game 7 of the 1973 World Series, which turned out to be Mays' final game as an active player.

Manny Ramirez, Tampa Bay Rays

Ramirez played for Cleveland and Boston before finishing his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. His time with the Rays only last five games in 2011 before he abruptly retired to avoid a PED suspension.

Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies

Martinez is remembered for his time in Boston, where he won two Cy Young Awards and helped break the Curse of the Bambino in 2004. He went on to play four seasons with the Mets before retiring as a Phillie in 2009, starting in Game 6 of the World Series when Philly was eliminated.

Split image of Manny Ramirez, Willie Mays and Pedro Martinez
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Manny Ramirez, Willie Mays and Pedro Martinez had brief stints with the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively.

Yogi Berra, New York Mets

The longtime Yankees catcher briefly suited up for the crosstown rival in 1965 as a player-coach. He had nine at-bats before becoming a full-time coach and eventually managing the team for four seasons.


Martin Brodeur, St. Louis Blues

One of the greatest goaltenders in NHL history played 21 seasons for the New Jersey Devils. Then, he played seven games for the Blues in 2014-15 before retiring mid-season in an anticlimactic ending to a Hall of Fame career.

Bobby Orr, Chicago Blackhawks

In 10 seasons with the Boston Bruins, Orr was a nine-time All-Star, eight-time Norris Trophy winner and two-time Stanley Cup champion. His final three seasons with the Blackhawks, where he played just 26 games, was injury-riddled.

Ray Bourque, Colorado Avalanche

Another Bruins legend who finished his career in another uniform. Bourque was traded to Colorado in 2000 and won his first Stanley Cup in 2001 and retiring thereafter.

Split image of Bobby Orr, Martin Brodeur and Ray Bourque
Bobby Orr, Martin Brodeur and Ray Bourque finished their careers with short stints on different teams.

Gordie Howe, Hartford Whalers

Howe played 25 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, debuting in 1946. Later, he briefly returned to the NHL in 1979-80 for the Hartford Whalers and retired at 52 -- only after scoring 15 goals as a 51-year-old winger.

Patrick Kane, Detroit Red Wings

Kane is still an active member of the Red Wings, recently signing an extension, but he'll always be remembered as a Blackhawk. He won three Stanley Cups over 16 seasons with Chicago after being selected No. 1 overall in 2007.

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