Three-time All Star Peja Stojakovic, regarded as one of the finest shooters in NBA history, said Monday he was retiring after 13 seasons in the league, his last a championship-winning campaign with the Dallas Mavericks.
The 34-year-old said he was finding it difficult to deal with neck and back issues and felt it was time to bring an end to his career.
"When you start competing against your body more than you’re preparing for the actual game, it’s a wakeup call," Stojakovic said in a statement.
"I feel so blessed to have been given the athletic gifts to play professional basketball. I have always loved the game, and have great respect for it, and I know the time is right to step away. I promised myself a long time ago, if it came to the point where my heart and body were not 100 percent committed, I would step away. I have reached that point and I know the time is right to retire."
Stojakovic ends his career in fourth spot on the all-time three-pointers list, with 1,760. He played for the Kings, Pacers, Hornets and Mavericks and averaged 17 points per game for his career.
Last season’s NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki said he was disappointed to see Stojakovic leave the game.
"Say it aint so peja. One of the best teammates ever and he helped us get that ring," Nowitzki wrote on Twitter.
Commissioner David Stern said in a statement that Stojakovic’s legacy goes beyond one team.
"Peja’s legacy, however, goes way beyond his 3-point skills and that elusive Finals title he won last season with the Dallas Mavericks," he said. "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."
Stojakovic, a dual Greek-Serbian national, was also a key member of the Serbian team that won the 2001 Eurobasket tournament and the 2002 World Championship, and was named European Player of the year three times.