The Hitman has made his final tackle.
Former New York Jets linebacker David Harris http://www.bengalsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-billy-price-jersey , second on the team’s career tackles list, retired Friday night after 11 NFL seasons. Harris made the announcement in a statement released on Twitter by his agents .
”After 11 years of having played the greatest team sport at its highest level,” Harris wrote, ”it’s now time for me to announce my retirement from the NFL.”
Always understated and humble off the field, Harris was an intense presence on it – earning the nickname ”The Hitman” for his penchant for punishing ball carriers.
He spent his first 10 seasons with the Jets, who drafted him in the second round out of Michigan in 2007. Harris was surprisingly released by New York last June and signed to a two-year contract by AFC East rival New England a few weeks later.
The 34-year-old Harris was mostly a role player with the Patriots, appearing in just 10 regular-season games, and he did not play in any postseason games, including the Super Bowl against Philadelphia.
Harris’ retirement saves the Patriots $2.1 million on their salary cap next season.
He made his mark with the Jets, though Mark Walton Color Rush Jersey , leading the team in tackles in nine of his 10 seasons with them. Harris was also a locker-room leader who was adamant about leading by example with an unquestioned work ethic rather than with his words.
”Players like David Harris don’t come around very often,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said in a statement posted on the team’s website . ”He’s one of the best players and people I’ve ever coached. I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a person and a leader. He is an example of everything you want from a player. I am proud to have coached him and wish him and his family the best.”
Harris’ preference to stay out of the spotlight in New York was a rarity for a player of his skill level and accomplishments. He never sought endorsements or acclaim, but Harris was recognized for his play on the field around the league. He was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl after both the 2009 – when he was also a second-team All-Pro pick – and 2011 seasons.
Harris was also a playmaking force as the middle linebacker in Rex Ryan’s top defenses during the Jets’ runs to the AFC championship game in the 2009 and ’10 seasons. He was twice selected by his teammates as the Jets’ Dennis Byrd ”Most Inspirational Player” and was the team MVP in 2010.
”David Harris operated at the highest standard for both performance and professionalism and is as fine a person as you will ever meet,” Jets CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. ”His endurance, intelligence and reliability were his trademarks and he was always there for his teammates. With all of those qualities, what stands out most to me is the humility and selflessness with which he approached each day. I wish him and his family the absolute best that life has to offer and they will always have a home with the New York Jets.”
Former teammates also took to social media to congratulate Harris on his retirement.
”A BOSS!” former running back Thomas Jones wrote on Twitter . ”Congratulations to `The Hitman’ David Harris on a great NFL career. Was an honor to share the field with him. Quiet assassin!”
Added former offensive lineman Damien Woody , currently an ESPN analyst: ”Congrats to David `Hitman’ Harris on a stellar 11-yr career. Not much for talking but was definitely bout that action boss!”
Despite Harris’ short stint in New England, he still made a lasting impression on his teammates there. Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy even lobbied for the Jets to someday induct him into their Ring of Honor.
”S/O to my last OG David Harris!” Van Noy wrote. ”Congrats! It was only a year but the impact he had on me will be forever. True professional and the best part about him is he’s truly selfless! Always looking to help and never complained. True leader! Green team better give him a green coat!!!”
The ending was weird.
The postgame was weird.
At least Game 1 of what was supposed to be a lopsided NBA Finals was anything but boring. It had a little of everything: A player stumbled and buckled Klay Thompson’s knee to send the Warriors’ sharp-shooter limping to the locker room in the opening minutes; let Stephen Curry get loose for a 30-footer at the halftime buzzer; grabbed a rebound in the final seconds of regulation with the score tied and inexplicably ran toward midcourt as if he thought the game was over.
And all that was just J.R. Smith.
The opener of this Cleveland-Golden State series should have been memorable for other reasons – LeBron James scoring a playoff career-high 51 points, the Warriors having three players score at least 24 and Draymond Green nearly getting a triple-double. Instead, this game’s legacy is an overturned charge call late in regulation Shaquem Griffin Color Rush Jersey , Smith’s gaffes, contradictory explanations from Cleveland and hot tempers in the final seconds.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s assessment? ”Lucky.”
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue’s assessment? ”Robbed.”
Warriors 124, Cavaliers 114, overtime. That’s what the box score says and will forever say, and the defending champions are now one step closer to winning their third title in four years. Golden State left Oracle Arena relieved. Cleveland left angered. Those emotions will likely remain in place all the way until Game 2 tips off on Sunday night.
James wants the Cavs to put it behind them.
”We’ve got to move on,” James said. ”This game is over and done with.”
Easier said than done, particularly with two full off days to now deal with, two full off days to replay everything over and over and over and over and over again.
Let’s be clear: The Warriors aren’t here because of luck. They have a coach who has won 80 percent of his career games. They have four All-Stars in the same lineup. They have two NBA MVPs.
But they got every break in Game 1. Every break.
Start in the beginning, when Smith slipped and stumbled into Thompson’s knee. It had all the makings of some sort of knee structural disaster – the hit came from the side, Thompson twisted awkwardly Eduardo Escobar Minnesota Twins Jersey , went down in a heap and was obviously in immediate, intense pain. Thompson limped away to the Warriors’ locker room for evaluation.
He was back in a few minutes. Big break No. 1.
”I’m happy it’s just a muscle that got strained,” Thompson said.
Then came the final seconds of the first half, when Smith went for a steal and wound up leaving Curry wide open. Curry turned, coolly buried a 35-footer as Smith slumped over with his hands on his knees and the teams went into intermission tied. Big break No. 2.
”The Finals, man, anything is liable to happen,” Curry said.
From his perspective, good things.
From Cleveland’s perspective, bad things.
Cleveland led by two in the final minute Logan Paulsen Color Rush Jersey , poised to steal Game 1, when James stepped up and tried to take a charge against Kevin Durant. Referee Ken Mauer called an offensive foul, but it was overturned after replay review.
”We had doubt as to whether or not James was in the restricted area,” Mauer said.
James was well outside the area, and the Cavs didn’t buy the explanation.
”I read that play just as well as I’ve read any play in my career, maybe in my life,” James said.
Durant tied the game with a couple of free throws awarded on the call reversal. Big break No. 3.
And with about 4 seconds left in the fourth, George Hill went to the line with Cleveland down by one for two shots. Made the first. Missed the second. Smith got the rebound, and ran away from the basket. Overtime. Big break No. 4.
”He thought we were up one,” Lue said.
”I knew it was tied http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-fred-warner-jersey ,” Smith insisted.
The extra session was all Golden State. The home team left happy. The fans that packed Oracle Arena went home happy. James went back to his hotel to deal with blurred vision (courtesy of what appeared to be an unintentional first-half eye poke by Green), and the Cavaliers were further angered by Shaun Livingston following Golden State policy by taking a shot in the final seconds of a decided game instead of just getting charged with a shot-clock turnover.
”Tonight we played as well as we’ve played all postseason, and we gave ourselves a chance possession after possession after possession,” James said. ”There were just some plays that were kind of taken away from us. Simple as that.”
Many onlookers thought this series would be a rout, a Golden State coronation.
If the Warriors keep getting every break, they’ll certainly be right.
Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org