People were wondering why Boston Celtics backup point guard Keyon Dooling suddenly retired. He was only 32 years old and was coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference finals with a team he appeared to love. He clearly had a lot of basketball left in his body.
So, why did he decide to call it quits?
Well, on September 27th, Dooling explained it to Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com.
You can find the full article here, and man, is it gut-wrenching.
To summarize, Dooling starts off by saying one of the primary reasons he decided to stop playing ball was because he wanted to spend more time with his family. A husband and a father of four, the daily grind of being a professional basketball player caused him to miss some momentous occasions in the lives of his kids. He didn't want that to happen anymore.
Then, Dooling dropped a bomb on all of us: He said he was sexually abused as a youth.
That is obviously devastating enough as it is and certainly weighs like an 800-pound gorilla on your shoulders. It wasn't just that, though. Guys around the league who had been through what Keyon had been through were constantly coming to him for advice as if he were their therapist. Friends were hoping he'd be someone they could lean on emotionally, and those same friends were also calling him and begging for money.
It just became too much for Dooling to handle. He needed a break. He needed to take solace in the comfort of his family.
So he retired.
Dooling only spent one year in Boston, but the impact that he had will never be forgotten. He was known as "The Reverend" around the clubhouse for a reason. Keyon was an extraordinarily good influence on the mercurial Rajon Rondo, and you truly understand how much Dooling loves Rondo when you read the entire article. He essentially fawns over him, saying how Rajon is merely an honest guy who is misunderstood.
Dooling may very well have altered the course of Rondo's career. He helped him grow up and mature. He helped him become a man.
It's funny, too, because Keyon did not exactly have a very good 2012 regular season. It wasn't until the playoffs where he made his presence known. People tend to forget that in the midst of Paul Pierce's 36-point, 14-rebound outburst during the Celtics' Game 2 comeback win over the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, it was Dooling who buried two huge threes to get the C's back in the game.
It also tends to slip people's minds that it was Dooling who drained several key treys in the classic seven-game series against the Miami Heat, particularly the two he hit in the second quarter of Game 4 (during which Dooling gave us one of the lasting images of Boston's playoff run by jumping into the air and pumping his fist as the Heat called timeout) and the one he hit at the end of the third quarter in Game 5.
Not only that, but Keyon played tenacious defense throughout the playoffs, giving Doc Rivers someone to rely on when Rondo had to go to the bench.
Dooling encapsulated what the 2012 Boston Celtics were about: toughness and grit. He was a vocal leader in the locker room, and you could just sense his passion every time he stepped on to the floor.
Pretty much every C's fan in the world was very happy when GM Danny Ainge re-signed Dooling this offseason. He would be a part of the team's incredible guard depth and, just like last year, would provide a nice security blanket for Rondo. Unfortunately, that will not happen, but you have to put things into perspective.
We as writers and fans are prone to forgetting that athletes are everyday people just like us. They have to go through the daily struggle of life just like anyone else. Do they get paid a nice sum of money? Sure, but Dooling is concrete proof that money isn't everything and that it is, sometimes, a detriment. It cannot be too pleasant having your phone constantly ringing off the hook with friends asking you to get them out of a financial rut. Keyon will tell you that it takes its toll.
I'm sure Dooling even wondered whether or not these people were even his friends. If he didn't have all of that money, would they still call him?
Well, he's about to find out, as he says during the interview that he no longer wants to be his friends' provider, just their friend.
It seemed as if basically everyone knew what a class act Dooling was during his lone year with the Celtics. What everyone didn't know was what Dooling had gone through to get to this point, and that he was playing through pain. Not the kind of pain someone plays through on a sprained ankle. No, this was much worse. It was the pain of childhood traumas immutably coming back to haunt him. The stress of knowing you had legions of people depending on you to help them through their own difficulties.
No man should have to be under that much pressure. Dooling knew that, and that is why he retired.
Enjoy the rest of your life, Keyon.
One thing is for sure: You will always be a Celtic.