Injuries suck. They really suck and sadly they’re as much apart of the game of basketball as much as fast break dunks and game winning buzzer beaters are. They’ve been the cause of various “what ifs” throughout the history of the league and they’ve left fans of the game with unanswered questions and hopeless dreams about what would could have been. But for some players, they’ve derailed their careers more than others.
So here’s my list of the greatest NBA career derailed by injuries.
8. Greg Oden
Greg Oden could’ve been one of the best big-men in the league during his career but sadly his knees simply couldn’t help him be great. At Ohio State, Oden averaged 15 pts, 9 boards, and 3 blocks a game. Scouts saw the potential Oden had as a glass cleaning big man who could block shots at will.. so much so he was taken number one overall in the 2007 NBA draft ahead of Kevin Durant. In what was a glimpse into what could’ve been, in just his fifth career game Oden scored 22 pts, grabbed 10 boards, and blocked 2 shots. An early glimpse into what could’ve been a great career. Just sad.
7. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire like other great players on this list was plauged with knee injuries throughout his career which halted him from being quite possibly the best big man in the league during his prime years. During his career Stoudemire won a rookie of the year award, went to six all star games, and averaged 18.9 PPG and 7.8 REB a game.
6. Brandon Roy
Easily my favorite player from this list, Brandon Roy was simply exciting. An excellent combo guard who light up the scoreboard at will, Roy had all the best qualities of Damian Lillard and CJ Mccollum combined; really a combination of the great back court we see today in Portland except in one player. Like the other players on this list, Roy suffered with knee problems throughout his career and sadly we never got see how great he truly could’ve been. Roy was a 3X all star, a former rookie of the year, and he averaged 18 pts and 4 ast through 326 NBA games.
5. Yao Ming
This will probably be the most controversial inclusion on this list but that’s mainly due to people simply not understanding just how good Yao was. Over the course of his career, Yao made 8 all star games and made 5 All NBA Teams with a career average 19.8 pts, 9.2 reb, and 1.9 blocks per game. Yao had great teammates along the way to help him be great, guys such as Ron Artest, Aaron Brooks, and fellow hall of famer T-Mac but ultimately it wouldn’t matter. Yao Ming and Tracy Mcgrady could have been one of the greatest duos in NBA history but both players were riddled with injuries throughout their hall of fame careers, which is sad because a ring would’ve definitely added to the legacy that was Yao Ming.
4. Penny Hardaway
Penny was Magic Johnson after Magic retired. A 6’7 point guard who could see the court in ways that only he could. Penny was one of the greatest passers in league history during his prime. The Magic had one of the best teams in the NBA during the 90’s and Penny was the player that led show right beside the Diesel himself.
3. Tracy Mcgrady
Tracy Mcgrady was an incredible basketball player during his time and it’s crazy that even though he dealt with injuries his entire career, he was still able to accomplish quite a bit and still get into the hall of fame. During his career T-Mac was a 7X all star, won 2 scoring titles, and made 7 All NBA Teams. Tracy Mcgrady was, and is, one of the greatest pure scorers in NBA history.. I mean the man scored 13 points in 33 seconds against the San Antonio Spurs. Simply amazing.
2. Grant Hill
Grant Hill is one of the greatest college basketball players of all time and is probably the greatest player in Duke history. A two time NCAA champion and Consensus All-American. Hill seemed destined for greatness at the next level he certainly displayed that during his rookie season as a Piston. In his rookie campaign, Hill averaged 19.9 PPG, 6.4 REB, and 5.0 AST winning Co-Rookie of the year with Jason Kidd. Grant Hill was a jack of all trades, a middle class man’s Lebron and only a middle class man’s Lebron due to his injuries. Grant Hill made 7 all star games and made 5 All NBA Teams. Had it not been for injuries, Hill would’ve definitely been one of the all time great small forwards in league history.
1. Derrick Rose
And number one goes to the only player on this list to have ever won a MVP award. Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose was, and still is, the youngest player in NBA history to ever win an MVP award, winning the award in just his 3rd NBA season. A season in which he lead Chicago to the best record in the league and their first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since His Airness. Derrick Rose in his prime was the most athletic/explosive point guard in NBA history. He possessed the ability to leap out the gym, had incredible speed, and could twist and turn his body whilst in the air better than any athlete I’ve ever seen—Derrick Rose was truly something else. It’s sad that he’ll never be the same player he used to be, but hopefully he can at least be half the player he once was so he can at least say he won a ring during a career in which he could’ve done so much more.