UConn legend Caron Butler calls it quits

Caron Butler (seventh from the left) accepts a plaque as he enters the Huskies of Honor on Feb. 3, 2016. He is joined on the court at Gampel Pavilion by his family, former coach Jim Calhoun, UConn President Susan Herbst, and former athletic director Warde Manuel. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Long time NBA standout and former UConn star Caron Butler called it a career on Tuesday morning. Butler, who played in the NBA for parts of 14 seasons, wrote a piece for the Player’s Tribune announcing his retirement.

A 6’7” wing, he left UConn after two seasons and was the 10th overall selection of the 2002 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat. He was named All-Rookie First Team his debut season and would later go on to be a two time All Star (2007, 2008) in the midst of a five-year stint with the Washington Wizards. Butler played for nine different NBA clubs, starting with Heat, proceeding to Los Angeles Lakers in a trade for Shaq, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit Pistons and concluding with the Sacramento Kings in 2015-2016. He did not play in either the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 season.

His apex of performance came with the Wizards where, along with Antawn Jamison and Gilber Arenas, he played prolific basketball. Butler won an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and was a Second Team All-American in 2002, his final year in Storrs, when he was also named 2002 Big East Player of the Year.

The Racine, Wisconsin native released an autobiography, Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA and became a color commentator for ESPN in 2017.

Butler was a strong athlete who took a high frequency of mid-range jump shots but scored well and was a notoriously pesky defender earlier in his career.

He was shouted out by NBA superstar Kevin Durant, who has also been mentored by UConn head coach Kevin Ollie, for leaving notes to help motivate and educate him early in his career. Butler says he picked up the move from former Heat head coach Pat Riley, who Butler lauds for his accomplishments as an NBA player.

“I was surprised and grateful when he thanked me in his MVP speech for doing that, but in my mind, I was just passing on what I learned from Pat Riley, who pretty much taught me everything I know,” Butler writes.

Butler averaged 18 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game and 2.1 steals per game at UConn from 2000 to 2002. He has kept relatively close to the program, he is the most recent inductee to Huskies of Honor back in February 2016 and was present at the team Phil Knight Invitational game against Oregon earlier this season. In his Tribune piece he calls former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun “The father I never had” and wrote a separate 2016 piece expounding on what UConn has meant for him and his career.

He concludes “Playing in the NBA was a dream — I got to spend 16 years with all of these great teammates and coaches. It was better than I ever could’ve imagined. I may be retiring from the game, but I’ll stay close to it. I’ll be around it in some form or another.

“I just want you all to know that I had the time of my life, and that you helped make that possible.”


Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.barresi@uconn.edu.