When people talk about the modern day NBA, there’s a certain superstar culture to it. Top headlines revolve around guys like Kevin Durant, Lebron James, and Steph Curry. When you think about players most likely making headlines, a dependable role player seldom bakes the biscuit. But this week, former Boston College Eagle Jared Dudley did just that.
Earlier this month, Dudley signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Phoenix Suns, returning to a team that traded him away three years ago. Dealt to the Clippers in 2013, he spent one season with Los Angeles before being traded again, this time to Milwaukee, then traded after one year to Washington, where he spent last season.
This week, Dudley penned a tribute to Phoenix for The Players Tribune, explaining why he chose to return to Arizona. It’s an emotional piece emblematic of a player who went to other teams for a couple of years but yearned for the feeling of a place that became his home.
Dudley remains one of the most prominent Boston College basketball alumni. The ACC Player of the Year in 2007 and a second team All-American, he’s become the type of dependable professional any team would want to fill their roster with.
In ten seasons, he’s played just under 700 career games, starting just over 250. His best seasons came between 2010-2013 when he averaged over 10 points per game. In a lockout-shortened season of 2011-2012, Dudley started 60 of the Suns’ 65 games, playing over 31 minutes per game and averaging 12.7 points.
He rejoins Phoenix during a rebuilding time for the Suns. They went 23-59 last season, finishing 14th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference. Only the Los Angeles Lakers finished with a worse record (17-65) in the conference.
Phoenix finished overall with the fourth-worst record in the NBA. They wound up two games better than Brooklyn (21-61) in the Eastern Conference, while the Philadelphia 76ers went 10-72, the second-worst 82-game record in NBA history.
That three-year stint came on the heels of an incredible 2010 postseason for the Suns. After finishing 54-28 with the #3 seed in the Western Conference, they defeated Portland in six games in the first round before sweeping San Antonio in the Conference Semifinals. Despite losing the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, Phoenix used home court advantage to tie the series at 2-2 before losing in six games to the eventual champion Lakers.
Despite the NBA’s superstar system, it’s stories like these that warm the heart. He’s one of the most beloved Eagles of our time, a monument of the era that feels, at times, like it’s long gone. His toughness and style of play typified the Boston College teams he led.
In 2005 and 2006, BC went a combined 51-12, earning back-to-back #4 seeds, then followed it up with a #7 seed the following year. Dudley never missed the tournament during his time at The Heights; BC earned a #6 seed in 2004 in their final year in the Big East.
In 2005, Dudley scored 18 points as the Eagles trounced Penn in the first round, 85-65. BC last reached the Sweet Sixteen the following year, with an overtime loss to top-seeded Villanova standing between them and a trip to the Elite Eight.
BC has reached the tournament just once since the ‘07 season.
Dudley’s developed into one of the premier role players in the NBA. Last season, the Wizards acquired him with the purpose of replacing Paul Pierce in the sixth man role. He wound up starting 41 of his 81 games, shooting 42% from three-point land. That percentage was the second best of his career from beyond the arc. The Wizards missed the postseason by only three games, finishing in 10th in the Eastern Conference at 41-41 behind Chicago (42-40) and Detroit (44-38). The Pistons wound up as the conference’s final seeded team.