Doron Sheffer's stay with Hapoel Tel Aviv lasted shorter than anyone could have expected.
The legendary Israeli guard, who signed a one-year deal in July, reportedly sent a fax to team management over Rosh Hashana that said, "The game of basketball is a waste of time and energy. If I could go back 10 or 15 years I certainly never would have played."
This is the second sudden retirement for Sheffer, 33, who stamped his name on the game in Israel with several memorable achievements. Sheffer, who earlier this summer was named one of the top 50 players of all time in Israeli hoops, retired for the first time in the summer of 2000, stating then that the game had "left me."
In July, after flirting with Hapoel Galil-Golan, Sheffer said at a press conference that "The meeting with the [Hapoel Tel Aviv] management made me understand how much being at Hapoel is right for me."
He further added that he felt he could still get more from himself and hoped that "the best is still ahead."
Over the holiday, he told coach Effi Birenboim, president Asher Stoler and chairman Shaul Eizenberg of his decision, noting that he preferred to end his career now rather than try to play, but end up leaving mid-season.
Sheffer, who was expected to earn $100,000 this season, is out of the country and could not be reached for comment.
The move came as a complete surprise to the team, although Birenboim had given the player permission to push back the date he was set to join practice several times. Hapoel has been in training for over three weeks and just competed in a preseason tournament in Poland.
Sheffer molded his legendary status at the early age of 21 when he led Galil to the Israeli championship over Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1993. Following his MVP season, he went to America, spending the next three years playing for the University of Connecticut, where he helped his team win the Big East title each year. His strong college career led to the Los Angeles Clippers selecting him with the 36th pick overall in the 1996 NBA Draft. Although he was the first Israeli ever selected in the draft, Sheffer opted to return to Israel after the Clippers did not offer him a guaranteed contract.
Sheffer played four seasons for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but retired unexpectedly in 2000. During that retirement, Sheffer was diagnosed with testicular cancer, from which he successfully recovered.
He came out of retirement during the 2002/03 season, returning to Maccabi where he played little. The next year he moved to Hapoel Jerusalem, leading the team to its first European title when it defeated Real Madrid in the ULEB Cup final.