Injuries are an unavoidable reality in the sports world, yet some injuries tend to change the course of promising careers. The NBA is undoubtedly the greatest men’s professional basketball league in the world and this list brings together the Top 10 NBA Careers ruined by injury.
Maurice Stokes was an NBA player during the 1950s. He played for the Cincinnati/Rochester Royals, and during one of his games, Stokes landed on his head – sending him into a coma. Later he suffered paralysis due to the brain injury that was a form of post traumatic encephalopathy. The devastating incident took his life in 1970. At the young age of 37, this player’s life and career ended tragically.
As a part of the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks, this professional NBA player contributed to the game with full force on the court. However, after he suffered a terrible back injury that reduced his ability to be physical during the game, Johnson later on became more of a perimeter player and helped his team instead of being the up front and primary driving force that he once was. He barely played 10 seasons before retiring due to his back injuries.
This Chinese professional played for the Houston Rockets. He was well known for being one of the best centers in the game and standing tall at 2.29m (7’6″), he was the tallest player whenever he was on the court. Yao Ming was at the brink of achieving success when he developed osteomyelitis in his big toe. This kept him away from games in his fourth season. An additional injury, a broken bone in his foot, also contributed to him being sidelined during year. To add to his misfortune, Ming later suffered a broken knee and a micro-fracture in his left foot a year later. It was due to this that his career came to an end even before he could taste success.
Playing for the Boston Celtics, Larry Bird was destined to become an all-time great. The 12-time NBA All-Star was named the league’s Most Valuable Player for three consecutive seasons from 1984 to 1986. His chronic back problems led to premature retirement in 1992. Bird is presently serving as a team president in the Indiana Pacers.
Chris Webber was one of the players who had an extraordinary flair for dunking and passing. An unfortunate knee injury in 2003 caused the talented player to opt for early retirement in 2008. Webber had to undergo micro-fracture surgery for an injured knee and after the surgery, Webber’s swiftness and movement on the court was limited and he didn’t have the same agility as before, resulting in the untimely and unfortunate end of his career.
Penny Hardaway was an eccentric point guard in his days in the NBA. He started his professional career in 1993 with the Phoenix Suns, but his most dynamic years were as a member of the Orlando Magic. In 1998, his career suffered an untimely end due to a knee injury.
Currently the mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson is the first African American to serve the office. Johnson was a man on fire when he played on the court, but his NBA career went downhill after he was affected with a hernia. The condition slowed him down and delayed his progress. If not for this, people say that Johnson, along with Barkley, would have definitely made a couple of title runs in the West.
Having played for four different teams, the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers during his tenure in the NBA, Grant Hill was considered one of the best players out there. His initial six seasons with the Pistons were smooth and catapulted his fame to great heights. The next twelve seasons though were plagued by injury, causing Hill to retire in 2013, though it was a popular opinion that if it wasn’t for those injuries, Hill would have had a far more brilliant career.
Shaun Livingston is a 24-year old whose injuries have plagued him to the extent that he actually lost out on almost half of his games in the first three years of his career. In 2004, Livingston chose to enter the 2004 NBA draft over attending college. In 2007, he suffered a gruesome knee injury that affected the entire area around his knee. He took over 2 years to recover from the injury. Luckily for him, he battled back and eventually found himself on a championship winning Golden State Warriors team in 2015 – but not nearly as spectacular as he could’ve been without the injury.
And how can you not love that ‘fro?
Injuries, apparently, do not just happen on the court. Jay Williams was a Duke University Blue Devils player who played professionally for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. Williams had a near-death motorcycle accident that tore three ligaments in his knee. Williams underwent therapy to revive his leg, but was constantly nagged by the injury that in turn affected his playing. His contract was later bought out by the Bulls for $3 million. If it weren’t for the injury, Williams could’ve had an impressive career for himself.
These players on the list gave their best to the game while they were on the court, but for some, their injuries minimized their impact while for others, the injuries were just too much to overcome.
Featured image: Chris Webber