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Iran’s basketball great Haddadi retires from national team

(Photo from Hamed Haddadi / Facebook)

Hamed Haddadi, the only Iranian to play in the National Basketball Association, retired from international play at the age of 38 after his team was eliminated from the World Cup, state media reported.

The 7-ft 2-ins (2.18 meter) center made the announcement late Saturday after Iran lost 81-73 to Lebanon in Jakarta to exit the World Cup after five consecutive losses, dashing hopes of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics.

“I have loved the national team and basketball, but one day you have to go and today is that day,” state news agency IRNA quoted Haddadi as saying.

“It was a very difficult decision and I was hesitating until the last moment, but I decided to say goodbye and ended my career in the national team after the match with Lebanon.”

Haddadi became the first and, as yet, only Iranian player to join the NBA when he signed for the Memphis Grizzlies as an undrafted free agent.

Between 2008 and 2013 he appeared in 151 regular season games for Memphis and Phoenix averaging 2.2 points per game. He also made 13 post-season appearances for the Grizzlies.

Haddadi played 27 minutes against Lebanon and scored 14 points. He totaled 40 points in his last World Cup.

Since 2020 he has been playing for the Sichuan Blue Whales, his fourth stint with the Chinese Basketball Association team.

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