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Hezonja Speaks Critically of NBA, Rules Out Future Return

Hezonja, a former Blazer and five-year vet, cited a lack of respect as one of the reasons for shutting the door on an NBA return.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

After spending five seasons in NBA, former Portland Trail Blazers forward Mario Hezonja took to Russian news outlet Tatar-inform to officially close the door on any potential return to the Association. Hezonja, who played in 335 games and five postseason games, was especially transparent about what he didn’t enjoy about his tenure, as noted in a piece by Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops.

Hezonja, a 20-year-old at the time of the decision to enter the 2015 NBA Draft, drew comparisons to players among the likes of Tracy McGrady and J.R. Smith, to talented players of the 1990s, such as Rex Chapman. The Orlando Magic took him with the No. 5 selection. Hezonja says now that the move was premature one transitioning that early. In thinking back on his NBA run, Hezonja also took a shot at the lack of respect he felt he deserved.

“I am not going to return to the NBA,” he repeated, “I didn’t get the respect I deserved. Also, in my opinion, the NBA is more a show than the game itself.”

There, he also made his opinions on an NBA return clear.

“No,” he said on seeking a potential return to the NBA, “There was a lot I didn’t like there.”

As Askounis brings out, Hezonja isn’t all critical of his time in the NBA, noting that they helped him to mature into his current form, particularly in monitoring his health and well-being.

“I learned to take better care of my body. I created myself as a player,” he added, “Everything that happened led me to become who I am today.”

Over those 335 games, Hezonja tallied in averages of: 6.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 42-32-81 percentage splits, with some promising moments along the way. His lone Playoffs appearance came with the Blazers, a five-game out in the Orlando bubble against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.