5 NBA Players Careers Ruined by Injuries

Derrick Rose being assisted walking to the exit because of an Injury
Derrick Rose Career Ruined by Injuries

Basketball is a physical sport, and in NBA, it plays 82 games in the span of 5 months. However they plan ahead and train their body, injury is still part of the game. But with modern medicine, technology and sports science, they somehow lessen a career-ending injury like it did before. 

In this article we’ll go over players who’s prime was cut short due to health reason.

Here are some of the NBA Careers that is ruined by Injury:

 

Brandon Roy

“Who is tougher to guard, Kevin Durant or  Brandon Roy?” Kobe Responded, “Brandon Roy, 365 days. 7 days a week. Roy has no weaknesses in his game.” 

The 6th overall pick by the Portland Blazers in 2006. Rookie of the year in 2006-07. By the age of 25, he’s already 3x allstart, 2x all NBA team, and one of the best scorer of the league. Most players of his time said that Roy is the toughest player they have to guard. 

So what happened to him?

From the 2007-08 season through to 2009-10, Brandon Roy enjoyed a three-year streak of robust health, during which he racked up an impressive total of 4,579 points, 1,135 assists, and 1,003 rebounds. His effective field-goal percentage was 50.2 during this period, a remarkable figure surpassed only by LeBron James. Although Roy may not have been in the same league as James, his performance during this period was undeniably influential.

Roy, an exceptional combo guard, displayed an impressive ability to create his own shot whenever needed, as well as command a high-performing offense. His best season was undoubtedly 2008-09, when he averaged 22.6 points, 5.1 assists, and 4.7 rebounds, hitting 37.7% of his three-point shots. This was the year the Portland Trail Blazers secured 54 victories and clinched the NBA’s second-best offensive rating.

However, this was also Roy’s final season of prime physical condition at the age of 24. His health began to falter due to recurring knee problems, and by the 2010-11 season, his average had dwindled to a mere 12.2 points, and he was no longer a regular on the starting roster.

Despite his decline, Roy demonstrated a touch of his former brilliance in a 2011 playoff match against the Dallas Mavericks. He spearheaded a stunning second-half comeback in Game 4 of the first-round series against the eventual NBA champions. After losing in this series, Roy was unable to play during the entire 2011-12 season. He attempted a brief, unsuccessful five-game comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2012-13 season.

Roy’s abrupt rise to stardom and subsequent crash due to injuries is made all the more heartbreaking by the fact that his skill set and style of play would have made him a formidable contender in today’s game. With his lethal off-the-dribble skills, versatility across positions, and overall basketball acumen, Roy would have needed to make no alterations to his game to thrive in the current NBA. Sadly, were it not for his injuries, the now 34-year-old might still be showcasing his skills on the court today.

The 6th overall pick by the Portland Blazers in 2006. - Brandon Roy
The 6th overall pick by the Portland Blazers in 2006. Rookie of the year in 2006-07. Brandon Roy

Greg Oden

Portland Blazers might be one of the unluckiest team in the NBA, From picking Sam Bowie over Micheal Jordan in ‘80s, to Brandon Roy, to Picking Greg Oden over Kevin Durant in ‘07, these players had a major setbacks due to injury. The trajectory of Greg Oden’s career, marked by his exceptional draft status, untapped potential, and a multitude of catastrophic injuries, is a poignant narrative of what could have been. Oden, a towering 7’0″ center, was envisaged as a franchise cornerstone, a commanding presence whose defensive prowess and offensive aggression suggested a player destined for greatness.

Hindsight makes it easy to argue that Kevin Durant, who was selected second, would have been a preferable first pick in the 2007 draft. However, at the time, Oden’s skillset was so compelling, and his potential as a foundational player was so evident, that his selection was almost unavoidable.

In his freshman year at Ohio State, Oden earned All-American honors, leading the Buckeyes to the 2007 national title game. In a losing effort against the Florida Gators, Oden demonstrated his capabilities with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks.

Yet, fate had a cruel twist in store for Oden. Microfracture surgery on his right knee cost him his entire rookie season. Even after a year’s hiatus, his ill luck persisted when a foot injury forced him to abandon his first game in the 2008-09 season after only 13 minutes. Despite sporadic appearances amounting to 61 games that season, Oden grappled with a persistent knee problem and recurring foot issues.

The following season, 2009-10, saw Oden confined to just 21 games before a fractured kneecap prematurely ended his season. The subsequent three years proved equally bleak, as the 2007 No. 1 overall pick didn’t make a single court appearance. Two additional microfracture surgeries, knee arthroscopies, and countless setbacks culminated in an agonizing narrative of unfulfilled promise.

Oden’s brief appearance with the Miami Heat during the 2013-14 season marked the last time he set foot on an NBA court. His career spanned six seasons, but he only participated in a total of 105 games, never achieving a continuous stretch of good health to let his undeniable talent shine.

Greg Oden wasn’t merely a competent center who could have contributed meaningfully if spared from injuries. He was a potential game-changer, thwarted by unreliable knees and an unfortunate stroke of bad luck. Had injuries not tormented both him and his fellow player Brandon Roy, the Moda Center could have been adorned with a few more championship banners today.

Portland Blazer's first overall Pick Greg Oden
2007, Portland Blazer’s first overall Pick Greg Oden

Yao Ming

From the moment he came in the NBA, until present days, Yao in undoubtedly one of the most famous players. During his prime, he was an arguably one of the best center in the NBA, showcasing remarkable skills on the court. Throughout his nine-year career in the league, he earned the honor of being selected to the All-Star Game an impressive eight times. Additionally, he was recognized for his exceptional performance by being voted to the All-NBA Second Team on two occasions. Yao’s dominance solidified his position as the second best center, trailing only the legendary Shaq.

Unfortunately, Yao’s career was hindered by persistent foot, back, and knee injuries that emerged after his third season. Following the 2005 season, he never played more than 57 games in a single season, except for a commendable 77-game effort in 2008-09. He missed the entire 2009-10 campaign and only appeared in five games in his final year, 2010-11.

And just like that, it was over.

Jeff Van Gundy, who served as Yao’s head coach with the Rockets from 2003-07, emphasized an important point: “No one should overlook this fact – outside of Shaq, Yao Ming was the best center in the world.” Unfortunately, due to injuries, we were only able to witness four seasons of Yao’s brilliance on the court.

Yao Ming, Number 1 overall pick in 2002, Played for Rockets
Yao Ming, selected by the Rockets as the the first overall pick in 2002 Draft

Jay Williams

Younger NBA fans may know Jay William as an Analyst on ESPN. But before that, he was a ball player. He is considered to be one of the best basketball players in the history of Duke University. He won the National Freshman of the Year award in 2000, and in 2001, he led the Blue Devils into an NCAA championship as a leading scorer in the country. As a Junior, he deservedly won both Naismith and Wooden player of the year. After that he was declared in the NBA draft and got selected as Number 2 pick by Chicago Bulls. Although he had an inconsistent, Jay William had a promising Rookie career. During the off season, he was training hard to become to become one the NBA leading pointguard in the next season. However second season never happened. after signing the contract, he bought a Yamaha YZF-R6, a fast motorcycle with 160mile per hour top speed. On the night of June 19, 2003, Williams was riding a motorcycle at a fast speed on the North Side of Chicago. He crashed his motorcycle into a streetlight during the off season. Multiple injuries ultimately brought an end to his career. Among the unfortunate incidents were a nerve injury in his leg, a fractured pelvis, and dislocated ligaments in his left knee. Adding to the trouble, Williams violated his contract by riding a motorcycle. He made two comeback attempts—one with the New Jersey Nets and another with the Austin Toros, a team that was in the Development League. Both attempts did not work out. 

Jay Williams 2nd Pick Playing as Chicago Bulls in 2002
Jay Williams Playing with the Chicago Bulls as Rookie in 2002

 

Derrick Rose

Undoubtedly the NBA one of brightest star. Rose has suffered a torn ACL less than a year after winning the youngest MVP of all time at the age of 22, clearly would have had a different career if not for an abrupt physical decline.

Rose’s exceptional performance in his age-22 season, averaging 25.0 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds, placed him in a league of his own. Only Rose and Oscar Robertson achieved similar per-game figures at such a young age. It’s worth noting that Robertson accomplished this feat in 1960-61, an era characterized by high-scoring games and minimal defensive emphasis. Rose’s achievement, on the other hand, occurred 50 years later, during a period of comparatively restrained individual production, making it even more remarkable.

However, Rose’s physical breakdown extended beyond the devastating torn ACL. Following a season-long absence in 2012-13, he underwent multiple surgeries to address a torn meniscus in his right knee, battled persistent ankle issues, suffered a fractured left orbital bone, and ultimately lost the explosive athleticism that defined his early career.

Rose’s playing style was characterized by recklessness, frequently barreling into the lane and subjecting his body to immense strain with his intense bursts of speed. It’s possible that injuries were an inevitable outcome for a player with his approach. Nevertheless, one can only imagine the possibilities for the youngest player ever to be crowned the NBA’s MVP.

Since his ACL tear, Rose has not played more than 66 games in any given season. Instead of performing as a star, he currently serves as a backup, signing minimum deals in recent times.

Number 1 Jersey, Derrick Rose Playing for Chicago Bulls
Youngest MVP ever – Derrick Rose Playing for Chicago Bulls, 2011

 

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About Mathew Reynolds 100 Articles
Mathew Reynolds is a seasoned sports writer with over a decade of experience in the field. His commitment to factual, passionate, and in-depth sports journalism has earned her a loyal following of readers who value his unique perspective, extensive knowledge, and the genuine love he holds for the world of sports.