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Aaron Gray retires, will become assistant coach

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

First, just how cool is that photo with former Pitt centers Aaron Gray and Steven Adams?

Some sad news this week as former Pitt center Aaron Gray is retiring due to a heart issue after a seven-year NBA career. Gray suffered a blood clot last summer and didn't play this past season after signing with the Detroit Pistons in the offseason.

The Detroit Free Press spoke with Gray has the best information on the entire story. And while Gray's heart has recovered to 100%, he still decided to retire since the physical demands on his body could have caused a recurrence.

The good news is that Gray will continue his life in the NBA as an assistant coach on Stan Van Gundy's staff in Detroit - though, according to that Free Press link, the exact capacity isn't yet known.

His exact role is still to be determined, Van Gundy replied via text message. The role could eventually be considered more of an internship to get his feet wet.

Gray has had an unspectacular career, but was a quality backup center. In stints with the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans), Toronto Raptors, and Sacramento Kings, he averaged 3.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game in only 12 minutes per contest. 2011-12 was his best year when he played about 16 minutes per game, averaging 3.9 points and a career-high 5.7 rebounds.

The really disappointing thing here is that Gray isn't a player in his late 30s that has a body completely breaking down. At only 30, he could realistically have played many more years since big men area always in demand. Sam Young and DeJuan Blair got more publicity, Gray wasn't a star, but at seven-feet tall could have had a job for a long time if he remained healthy.

I'm glad to see him make the decision to step down, though. Professional sports are nice, but it's more important that he take care of himself for the long-term. Granted, clots can come back, anyway. But hopefully by stepping down, this lessens the chance he'll have to deal with it again.

And just for fun, here's 50 completely random Aaron Gray facts.

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