Richard Jefferson went to the Finals in his rookie year. In the final year of his career, he won a title.
After a masterful Finals performance that nobody could have reasonably expected of him, Richard Jefferson told Fox Sports Ohio that he is retiring.
Now, of course this was the heat of the moment after the biggest accomplishment of his professional career. RJ clearly has something left in the tank, and would almost certainly have a job if he wanted one. We'll see if this statement holds true after a bit of decompression.
Jefferson was a linchpin for the Cavaliers in the Finals. When the Warriors switching and athleticism forced the Cavaliers traditional bigs in Kevin Love and Channing Frye off the floor, Jefferson picked up their minutes and made the most of them. He was aggressive, smart, stunningly athletic given his age, and did all the little things the Cavaliers needed against one of the greatest regular season teams in the world.
Jefferson got a bit of a tough rep early in the season, as those who back up LeBron James often do, but he stayed ready and was an absolute monster throughout the post season. He hit his shots, defended better than anyone thought he could at his age, and was the savvy vet many hoped he could be.
Off the court, his Lil' Kev character and snapchatting of the team gave us a window into how these players operated with one another. He and Channing Frye specifically seemed to help bolster chemistry on a team that was prone to drama. It's easy to say in hindsight, but this is why title-contending teams employ players like Jefferson who are near the end of their careers. The upside isn't traditionally too high, but they know how to win, and they know how to operate inside a healthy locker room.
Richard Jefferson was everything the Cavs needed this season, even when we didn't know it. And he's retiring a champion.