Iconic Langdon announces retirement (Basketball)

June 18, 2011

Trajan Langdon

The most influential athlete in Alaska’s history is walking away from the game he loves and the sport that made him famous.

Basketball star Trajan Langdon, 35, of Anchorage announced his retirement yesterday in Russia, where he starred for world power CSKA Moscow and flourished on the European stage after getting shunned by the NBA.

Following historical careers at East High and Duke University, he was a 1999 lottery pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers. It didn’t pan out after three seasons there, yet he never made excuses.

Instead the 6-foot-3 guard with a world-class jump shot forged ahead and carved out an illustrious career overseas, well before it was chic.

Then again, Langdon has always been a trailblazer.

He was Alaska’s first McDonald’s high school All-American and three-time state player of the year.

He was the first player to truly put Alaska on the map, drawing blockbuster college programs like Duke, Georgetown and Kentucky, and opening doors for so many other players from the state.

He was the first men’s player from here to earn NCAA D1 All-American honors and play in the NCAA championship game.

He was the first Alaskan to play in the NBA.

He was the first to win a Euroleague title and be named Final Four MVP and Euroeague All-Decade.

He was the first professional athlete to come home and pay for statewide camps for kids.

He was the first to open a business in his old neighborhood.

Langdon was more than just a jock, he was a role model, a positive male presence and the perfect ambassador for the 907.

A true gentleman and sportsman, Langdon was an even better person.

Langdon had a lot to celebrate during his career. “In eight of my nine years in Europe, I have been able to end the season with a win,” he said.

The 2008 Alaska Sports Hall of Fame inductee never lost sight of Alaska, no matter how far the game took him away.

He was approachable. He was humble. He was one of us.

He was a champion on and off the court, earning two degrees from Duke and fathering a son in 2008.

In his final game, Langdon started and played 23 minutes in a Game 4 victory over Khimky that clinched the Russian League title for CSKA Moscow.

It was his team’s sixth straight championship – every season Langdon was in uniform.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to finish at a note like this, as a winner,” Langdon told the team’s website. “It was absoluately my last game. I’m already 35 and throughout the whole season I’ve seen many signs letting me know that it’s time to finish. I want to thank everybody.”

He ended his Euroleague career ranked fifth all-time in 3-pointers made (339) and sixth in both points (2,178) and steals (216).

Everybody knows about his scoring touch, but Langdon’s toughness was the most underrated part of his game. He played through injury and personal pain. Yet you’d never know it. He was a silent killer, the ‘Alaskan Assassin’ as Dick Vitale famously dubbed him back in the day.

His greatest is embodied by the fact that he played at the top level and starred for iconic teams like East, Duke and CSKA Moscow, thriving in some of the toughest climates under severe scrutiny.

His star never dimmed, even during his dark times, and his love for Alaska never waned. He held camps in Seward, conducted clinics in the Bush and gave back to his Anchorage community.

He now lives in Virginia with his new family but he never forgot where he came from, which is why he will always be No. 1 in the hearts of Alaska sports fans.

Thanks for the memories, Trajan.