CLEVELAND — Channing Frye was with his family in Puerto Rico during All-Star break when his future came into focus.
After spending the last 14 years in the NBA, pouring his all into the game he loves, it was time to make room for something else.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back, I was on vacation,” Frye said. “I went to Puerto Rico with my kids and I saw our best friends who live down there and their kids are 12, 11, 10. My son is eight now. I’m like, ‘I want to go his practice and not have to worry about my practice.’ I want to make time for them.
“What some of these young fellas don’t understand is your whole life is on a selfish bubble, what’s best for you, what you want to do. For me it took a while, but my dad instinct, and my husband and family guy kicked in. What can I do for my family? Money is awesome, but at this point I’ve had enough people either die or go away through relationships that couldn’t get kept up. That’s what’s most important, making something outside of basketball.”
Frye has been thinking about the possibility of retirement for the last few years. Like others, he has struggled with when to walk away. He joked about his 30-minute drive to practice and the 30-minute journey back home giving him plenty of alone time to talk to himself and ponder the future. He chatted with Dwyane Wade, who is in the midst of his final season. Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki also inquired.
When Frye signed a one-year deal with the Cavaliers this past summer, reality started to set in. He even wondered if he had anything left to give.
He picked Cleveland because it’s where he felt he could make the biggest impact. He also knew this could be his final hurrah. And Frye, who became an integral piece of Cleveland’s 2016 title run, couldn’t think of a better place to cap his career.
“I wanted to retire a Cav,” Frye said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen this summer so I wanted to make sure I’m controlling my own destiny and going out the way I wanted to go out.”
This probably isn’t exactly what he envisioned. Frye’s playing time has been sporadic. The Cavs have dropped near the bottom of the NBA standings. Head coach Tyronn Lue was fired six games into the season. Some of Frye’s old teammates were shipped away ahead of the trade deadline.
The trying season and a diminished role played a part in the announcement he made on social media Friday.
“Everybody knew it was coming. I wasn’t playing. I was sitting next to the coaches all the time. For me it was the natural progression of where it should go,” Frye said. “I love basketball and I love being around, but also love that basketball always gave me a challenge. Right now my job and my job for however many years if I wanted to play, I would be more like a coach figure. I’m a competitor and I’m like, ‘OK, I want to help.’ But I also know there’s limitations to where this league is going or where this team is going. It’s not like, ‘Oh man, I deserve to play.’ It’s not like that at all.”
Frye doesn’t know exactly what’s to come after these final 19 games. But, as he has done during his hoops career, Frye will commit fully to whatever he decides.
“I think some people are scared about retirement and are like what are you going to do after? Whatever the hell I want. It’s exciting to me,” Frye said.