Richard Allen Jefferson

Richard Allen Jefferson (born June 21, 1980) is an American professional basketball player for the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball with the Arizona Wildcats. Jefferson was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NBA draft with the 13th overall pick, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in his first season with the New Jersey Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets).
He won an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. He was also a member of the United States national team that won a bronze medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Jefferson was born in Los Angeles and was raised in Phoenix, Arizona. His parents were both Christian missionaries, and he moved around frequently growing up. He attended Moon Valley High School in West Phoenix, where he was an integral part of the varsity basketball team that won the 4A State Championship in 1998.
Jefferson played college basketball at the University of Arizona, under Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson from 1998 to 2001. During his 84-game career (77 starts), Jefferson averaged 11.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He capped his career by being part of the Arizona team that advanced to the 2001 national championship game. Along the way, Jefferson was an all-Midwest Regional and all-Final Four selection. He was inducted into the Pac-12 Basketball Hall of Honor during the 2012 Pac-12 Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament, March 10, 2012.[3] Jefferson played seven seasons with the New Jersey Nets and was a key element of their back-to-back Eastern Conference Championship teams of 2002 and 2003.
In addition, Jefferson was a member of the USA Men’s Olympic basketball team in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Jefferson competed in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 2003. Jefferson began his career as a substitute small forward for Keith Van Horn and showed great defensive skills and all-around ability. Because of his potential, and Van Horn’s conflict with power forward Kenyon Martin, the Nets traded Van Horn to the Philadelphia 76ers and trusted Jefferson as a starter. Jefferson blossomed in the role, becoming a good mid- and long-range shooter in addition to his slashing ability. On August 13, 2004, Jefferson signed a six-year, $78,000,000 contract extension with the Nets. Jefferson missed the majority of the 2004–05 regular season after rupturing a ligament in his left wrist, an injury he claimed occurred when Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups purposely undercut him on a layup attempt during a game on December 27, 2004. Jefferson ended up missing 49 games, but returned to action for the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat.
Prior to suffering the injury, he had missed only five games in his three NBA seasons. Jefferson had been enjoying his best professional season, averaging 22.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. Through the 2005–06 season, Jefferson continued to perform at a high level and established himself as one of the NBA’s most versatile players. On January 21, 2007, Jefferson decided to have ankle surgery. After missing around six weeks, he was back in the lineup. His absence proved to be a major setback for the struggling Nets, who surged back into playoff contention once Jefferson returned.
In August 2007, Richard Jefferson pledged $3.5 million toward the University of Arizona’s then-planned basketball and volleyball practice facility, which was eventually named in his honor. UA officials believe it is the largest donation ever from a former player. He started the 2007–08 season in the best form of his NBA career. In the first 7 games, he averaged 26.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists, while also notching up 1.3 steals, 97.1% in free-throws and 49.1% in field-goals. On October 31, in a game against the Chicago Bulls, Jefferson injured his right wrist slightly, thumping his chest following a clutch three-pointer. The Nets went on to win the game in overtime. On December 4 he passed Kerry Kittles to become the Nets’ second all-time leading scorer. On June 26, 2008 Jefferson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. He was not happy with the trade at first because he planned on being a Net until retirement. However, he later expressed enthusiasm about playing alongside Michael Redd. On June 23, 2009, Richard Jefferson was traded to the San Antonio Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto. On June 30, 2010 Jefferson opted out of his contract with San Antonio and became an unrestricted free agent. On July 23, 2010, Jefferson re-signed with the Spurs. On March 15, 2012, the Golden State Warriors traded the newly acquired Stephen Jackson for Jefferson, along with a conditional first-round pick. On July 5, 2013, the Warriors reportedly agreed to trade Jefferson, along with teammates Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrinš, to the Utah Jazz. The trade became official on July 10. On July 21, 2014, Jefferson signed with the Dallas Mavericks.  On August 5, 2015, Jefferson signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers finished the regular season with a 57–25 record and made it through to the 2016 NBA Finals with a 12–2 playoff record. Jefferson started Game 3 of the NBA Finals in place of the injured Kevin Love.
Jefferson gave the Cavaliers a boost in 33 minutes, scoring nine points with eight rebounds, as the Cavaliers cut the Golden State Warriors’ advantage in the series to 2–1 with a 120–90 win. Despite going down 3–1 in the series following a Game 4 loss, the Cavaliers won the series in seven games to become the first team in NBA history to win the championship after being down 3–1. After initially considering retirement following the championship win, Jefferson re-signed with the Cavaliers on July 28, 2016, reportedly on a two-year, $5 million contract. The Cavaliers returned to the NBA Finals in 2017, but fell short in their quest for back-to-back titles, losing in five games to the Warriors. On October 14, 2017, Jefferson was traded, along with Kay Felder, two future second-round draft picks and cash considerations, to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the rights to Sergiy Gladyr and Dimitrios Agravanis. He was immediately waived by the Hawks. On October 19, 2017, Jefferson signed a one-year, $2.3 million contract with the Denver Nuggets. After the end of regular seasons, with the Nuggets not taking part in the playoffs, Jefferson has been a guest analyst for Fox Sports, making appearances in Skip and Shannon: UNDISPUTED and also was a sideline interviewer.

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