A Farewell to Peja

(Thanks to the amazing Dariusz Ejkiewicz for the Peja Banner.)

I’m having a hard time with this.  I’ve struggled to wrap up Peja’s time in New Orleans with a neat little bow and generate a pithy quote to summarize it. I’ve toyed with “laced with disappointment”, “Sigh . . . ” and “None of it was his fault” but all of those have a heavy negative connotation that I don’t feel is justified. 

You see, I have a warm spot in my heart for Peja.  I simply love the three-point shot when launched by an expert marksman.  Unlike the dunk, which provides a moment of savage joy and trailing glee after the fact, the three-point shot is laced with anticipation and dread that makes the culmination so much better.  As the shooter breaks free, butts leave the seat, adrenaline pumps as the ball arcs through the air, and when it goes down, there’s the explosion of joy, enhanced threefold by relief.  Essentially, the three-point shot provides an NBA fan with the same fix a gambler gets, and in that respect Peja is a Master. He served up that fix on a platter while limiting the moments of disappointment, making all of us feel like we were on a hot streak.

So while my brain screams at me that Peja was barely more than ordinary at his best in New Orleans – fairly inefficient, a sometime  adequate defender, and incapable of doing more than scoring – my heart cleaves to those three pointers in transition, the broken plays with the ball landing neatly in his hands beyond the arc, the fading corner trey that would go down despite the man in his face.  I have trouble forgetting the franchise record 10 threes against the Lakers, the 22 points in one quarter against the Bobcats.  The three threes over four posessions from the exact same spot on the floor against Philadelphia last year that capped a game-clinching 15-2 run.

The Peja Heads.

My brain points out he missed most of his first season with a back injury that made him never come close to living up to his 65-million dollar contract.  That his presence on the Hornets killed their cap flexibility for years.  That the Spurs broke the Hornets in the playoffs by simply trailing him closely on the perimeter.  That he never fought for a rebound or subscribed to the ‘no layups’ rule.

All that is true.  But I’ll still miss him.

Good luck in Toronto, and wherever you go after that, Peja.  Thanks.

18 responses to “A Farewell to Peja”

  1. Peja’s play: Ive never enjoyed something so much yet still lamented its price. He’s a class act on and off the court.

  2. Well, I can name one team that will be happy to see him go and not on the floor in crunch time – the Dallas Mavericks. The guy is such an outstanding guy but just not worth the pricetag. As with James Posey, you don’t really realize they are gone until they are gone. But, hey, this is a fresh start for him and his family and I’m sure he will enjoy getting back into the cold north again.

    Thank you for everything you did for us and our city, on and off the court.

  3. On a practical level, do he and Bayless need to get permission to work in Canada given that neither are Canadians? Could that slow things down wrt how soon they start there?

      • I hear a lot of people talking about Belinelli heads, but why not some Ariza heads too? The team needs him sinking those three pointers to succeed …

  4. Once again, Peja thanks you no one ever excited me from the 3-point line like you have since Dell Curry did pack in the day,.. But let’s make this about you, I will never boo you at any game because you will always be remembered as a Hornet regardless of where you land.. And peja heads will be missed :no homo:

  5. disappointed because he decided to fit the team’s plan of using him as a 3p shooter and nothing more.
    He did show what he could last year when CP was off and i think he will do that again in toronto.

    I dont think it was his fault that he did not offer as much as we wanted, since the team never thought how to utilise him.

  6. Where is the “Game On” thread? Oh, that’s right, the game is NOT on. Neither is the next one. I can’t wait to listen along on my radio. Whoopee!

  7. To be fair, although Predrag doesn’t create his own shots, the fact that the Spurs simply manned him with their best defender speaks volumes of his impact that year. One man stretching the defense like that… simply amazing.

    Like hewhorocks said: a class act. Best of health to one of the best shooters in modern history, since really, he could use health more than luck.

  8. If Toronto buys him out, I wonder if Demps will be interested in bringing him back a la Ilgauskas w/ cleveland last year. He was actually fitting in very nicely as a matchup player when he had an easy defensive assignment and as a stretch 4. That West=Peja=Ariza=Bellenelli=paul lineup was kinda fun to watch for stretches.

  9. Peja will be missed. Sadly, he didn’t fit Demps/Williams’ concept, but he is a supremely talented offensive player, who was always better on defense than he was given credit for, and team statistics support this. I hope to keep cheering Peja for years wherever he plays.

  10. I doubt he’ll read this, obviously, but being part of the former Yugoslavia, I can’t help but give Peja an shout out the “Yugo” way.

    Peja. Mnogo mi je zao sto su te Hornets promjenili. No mogu da ti kazem kako je moja familia volili da te gledamo kada ti Chris Paul baca loptu u corner, i ti dajes trojke kao krajl! Mi te gledamo od kad si tek poceo u Sacramento, i mnogo smo volili sto si dosao u New Orleans. Ako bog da, sve ce ti bit najlepse u Toronto. Nema niko u sve svijet ko bolje puca trojke od Peja Stojakovic! Hvala za sve sto si radio a New Orleans, i za sve NBA. Cao Peja. Sve najbolje!


  11. peja is a team player, all he did in new Orleans was follow his instructions (bee a perimeter shooter) hes more skilled than that, but thats what the hornets wanted him to do be a 3rd scoring option, the hornets didn’t use him properly, like someone pointed out already, when paul or west were injured peja was more then capable of stepping up and taking the scoring load. yes injuries were to blame for but it wasn’t only peja who suffered injuries . the hornets gave up on chandler because of injures, paul missed last season. they never had a bench, they had to fight to get their lead back after every time the starters would rest. things didn’t go right for the whole team and it all falls on peja! you cant forget a 56 wins, franchise record, most in team history. he did more then people realize for this team. Also its a shame to hear fans complaint about his contract, the hornets organization got you talking about luxury tax all the years after 2007, winning organizations are willing to spend, as a fan all i care about is winning i don’t care about team finances, had the hornets got solid backups they might have been able to stay healthy and not get injured, and that same team that won 56 games would still be intact… chandler with the inside presence, west with the mid range, peja with the outside shot and paul shining.

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