Hawks' Trae Young reacts to 'legend' stepping away from NBA for good

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young sent a few words to a player he regarded as "big bro" ahead of a critical showdown in the Play-In Tournament.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks have a win-or-go-home game against the Chicago Bulls on deck in the first round of the Play-In Tournament.

Trae Young took a moment to say goodbye to someone he looked up to on the day off.

Former Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin announced his retirement on Tuesday, wrapping his 13-year career with five All-NBA selections, six All-Star game appearances, and a Rookie of the Year trophy to his credit.

“To the Legend that gave Thousands if not Millions of kids a show every time you hooped!!” Young posted on X on April 16. “From HS in OK to the Big Leagues!! Not many of us & I always will appreciate you for the inspiration as a kid. 

“1 of 1! Enjoy retirement Big Bro.”

Injuries shortened what was one of the game’s most electric primes, with Griffin a walking highlight reel. 

And Young had a front-row seat growing up in Norman, Oklahoma. The Hawks star also followed in Griffin’s footsteps, attending the University of Oklahoma where he set records just as he has in the NBA. 

It’s been an eventful offseason for Young in this regard.

He recently sent out a message to his former teammate, Lou Williams, who called it a career after 17 seasons, including two stints with the Hawks.

Young has often spoken about the many veterans he’s learned from over the years, including former coaches. That was evident in the Hawks’ regular season finale against the Indiana Pacers on April 14.

Young and former Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce had a moment postgame.

Tension between the two was rumored to have led to the latter’s ouster. That was three years ago, though, so perhaps time just healed the wound.

It still backs Young’s assertion and underscores his sentiments in these moments. In addition to the Clippers, Griffin spent time with the Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets, spending last season with the Boston Celtics.

Trae Young left off Team USA roster again

Despite openly stating his case and desire to play, Trae Young was left off the Team USA roster for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.

“I definitely want to,” Young said on “Gil’s Arena” on August 4. “It’s up to them if they want me to. I mean I would love to play with guys and show off my passing even more and not have to go out and score a lot and just be there if they need me to.”

However, his size was viewed as detrimental on the international stage.

“The bottom line is, in FIBA ball…small guards struggle,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps said on the “Hoop Collective” podcast on said on August 7. “Trae is a small guard who is not a physically strong guard, either. Unlike, say, Jalen Brunson, who certainly isn’t a big guard. But, like Kyle Lowry who is at Team USA practice today, and Chris Paul…certainly those bigger, stockier, more physical guards who can hold up better in the FIBA game.”

Olympic basketball is played under FIBA rules. It stands to reason that, in addition to more established stars and World Cup holdovers, Young might have had a tough time making it anyway.