Best NBA Players Careers Ended by Injury in the Recent Years

  • No one is immune to the injuries, especially NBA players
  • Derrick Rose might be the one with the saddest injury history
best nba players' careers ended by injury
Image source: Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

Injury is every athlete’s worst nightmare. After years of practicing and competing, a single wrong move can end your life-long dream. Injuries are inevitable for players, it’s a risk they had to take in order to reach their best potential. Especially when you’re playing in an as competitive league as NBA,  no one is immune to it. There are a handful of examples of some of the best NBA players’ careers ended by injury.  

Some players were physically unable to get over their injuries and come back to their original form. For some, it affects them mentally, which is crucial when it comes to the pressure of the matches. Even if they’re able to recover fully, what could’ve been if not for the injury is always a question that bugs both the player and the fans.

A little list of best NBA players’ careers ended by injury

It’s almost impossible to measure the quantity and quality of each injury and compare them. Try comparing a promising All-American draft who left the league only in their rookie years because of the injury and one who was in their peak of the career only to cut it tragically short. Out of all these examples, we have listed some of the best NBA players’ careers ended by an injury in the recent history that raise the great “what if” questions.

Derrick Rose

When you think of a brilliant rookie whose inevitable successful career was hurt by injury, Derrick Rose is the first to come in mind. He was the first overall draft in the NBA after only one year of playing college basketball. Born and raised in Chicago, he chose Bulls out of the many offers and got the Rookie of the year in his first season. Also, he became the MVP of the season in 2010, when he was only 22, becoming the youngest person to get the award in NBA history. 

He tore his ACL during the first game of the play-offs with the Phoenix Suns. After that, a lot of online sportsbooks in the US were doubtful that he’ll ever be the same. There are only a few players who were able to come back from an ACL injury. It takes 6-8 months to recover and even after that, the possibility of another injury is too high. Sadly, Derrick Rose suffered from ACL and his attempt to come back was unsuccessful. During the games after his injury, it was apparent that he was not fully recovered. He got more injuries in the knee and missed over 200 games. Since his specialty was his speed cross-overs and epic dunks, the injury was especially devastating for him.

5 years after his injury, Bulls finally traded him in 2016. He’s now on his fourth team after the trade and is doing his best to stick around. It might seem strange to see him on the list of best NBA players’ careers ended by injury if we take account of his career-high 50 points in Minnesota. However, we all know that his form right now is nothing compared to what could’ve been if the injuries were avoided. Timberwolves are now standing only before Warriors in the 14th place. With NBA play-offs starting in only a week, they have +25000 odds of entering the playoffs according to bet365. After this disappointing roster, Minnesota is likely to trade Derrick again which might even result at the end of his career.

Yao Ming

best nba players' careers ended by injury
Yao Ming – Image source: Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

Now some might say that he was just all body. Standing at astounding 7’6”, Yao Ming seemed as awkward and slow, but the fact remains that he was the best center after Shaq. When he first entered the Houston in 2002, he was a sensation. Not only his huge frame makes him a defense like no other, but he was also a great shooter for his size. When he retired in 2011, he was averaging 19 points, 9 assists and 2 blocks per game.

If an injury hasn’t taken its toll on the giant guy, he would’ve been the best center with no doubt. If he was not playing in both the NBA and the Chinese National team at the same time, he might’ve avoided those injuries. After only two seasons, his lower body started betraying him with a series of injuries. First, he got an operation because on his toe, then his knee and back followed. He missed 180 games in only eight seasons before retiring which makes him one of the best NBA players’ careers ended by injury.

Brandon Roy

best nba players' careers ended by injury
Brandon Roy – Image source: Keith Allison / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

Another promising rookie, another devastating injury, another great “what if?”. Brandon Roy won the Rookie of the year in 2006-2007 season, was an All-Star in the next three seasons. Totaling 4579 points, 1135 assists, and 1003 rebounds in his short career of three years, to say that his career was promising is an understatement.

Former Rookie of the Year, he’s now an unforgettable example of one of the best NBA players’ careers ended by injury. He left the games mid-season in 2010 because of his hamstring. After that, he got a total of six operations and have been in and out of the games. He then retired in 2012 when his doctor warned him that the long time risk is too high. He was facing the danger of losing his ability to walk if he continues to play. Since then he has been building his career in coaching in the Houston training center.

Few more best NBA players’ careers ended by injury

Obviously the list of promising players whose career has been cut abruptly by injury can go on and on. Some were only at the start of their careers such as Aleksandr Radojevic, Harold Miner and Todd MacCulloch. They have all been playing under five seasons in the NBA before the injury caught them. Toronto Raptors selected Radojevic in the first pick of their draft only to lose him in two years. He has suffered from a career-ending injury in only his first season and left the NBA shortly after that. Harold Miner had an incredible athleticism, winning the Slam-Dunk contest twice before retiring in 1996. Also, there are players like MacCulloch who were not necessarily superstars but would’ve been a great help to the team.

We can’t forget about those players who have retired at the peak of their careers due to injury. Cuttino Mobley is now suing his team for making him retire even though he had a fatal heart condition. Jamal Mashburn was only starting to reach his potential after years-long of hard work. No matter how long a player has been in the NBA, not being able to see them play anymore is always a great shame.

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