September 30, 2003
, a consistently productive center with over 16 years of NBA experience, will announce his retirement today. An active member of the community, Dudley was among the elite honored with the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his charitable efforts.
"Chris Dudley epitomizes everything an NBA player should be. He worked extremely hard. He shared his gift of being a pro basketball player with children in the community and did tremendous work with pediatric diabetes. Chris always sacrificed for the good of the team. In my time in the NBA, there's no better role model for children than Chris Dudley, who persevered over all odds to have an outstanding NBA career. It was a pleasure to coach him in New York and the NBA is going to miss him," said Houston Rockets Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy.
Dudley was among the league's top centers, garnering his 5,000th career rebound in 1999 as a Knick against the Detroit Pistons. He played the last two seasons of his career for the Portland Trail Blazers, serving as a leader in a locker room that often needed a veteran's guidance.
"Chris is one of the great big men ever to play in the NBA. He is a consummate pro and is known around the league for his professionalism. We need more guys in the NBA like Chris," said Maurice Cheeks, Head Coach, Portland Trail Blazers.
A graduate of Yale University, Dudley was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1987 NBA Draft and played for five NBA teams over the course of his career. Quietly accumulating honors, Dudley led the team many times in blocked shots, rebounds and appeared in 59 career NBA playoff games, including starting for the New York Knicks in the 1999 NBA Finals. He finishes his career with 3,473 points and 5,457 rebounds. He is tied for the Blazers team record for single season offensive rebounds with 325 during the 1994-95 season.
Diagnosed at age 16 with Type 1 diabetes, Dudley overcame the odds to become a professional athlete. He started The Dudley Foundation in 1994 and designed a basketball camp for youth with juvenile diabetes that has operated in Vernonia, Ore for the past eight years. Including a $100,000 donation to Yale in 1996 to create an endowment to help fund the school's basketball program, Dudley has donated more than $1 million to charity. For his efforts, Dudley received the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 1996 and USA Today's Most Caring Athlete Award in 1997 among other honors.
"I've been blessed to have spent my career playing a game that I love. The fans and the community have been immensely supportive and it's now time to move on to the next chapter of my life. Although I will miss playing in the NBA, I'm looking forward to more time with my family," said Dudley.
Dudley is making his home in Portland with his wife Chris and their three young children and will continue to work with his foundation to raise awareness for juvenile diabetes, provide educational programs, advocacy and support diabetes research. For more information on his foundation, visit www.chrisdudley.org