This week, the Chicago Bulls announced that Derrick Rose had torn the medial meniscus in his right knee and would be sidelined indefinitely. The news was hardly shocking, seeing as how Rose is one of the most injury-prone players in the NBA. In fact, this is his third major knee injury in just two years. But it still felt like a punch in the gut to Bulls fans, whose team will now head to the playoffs without their best player for the third straight years.
Of course, Bulls fans aren’t the only ones who have had to watch superstar talent get derailed by chronic injuries. Today, we’re going to take a look at the 13 most injury-prone players in NBA history. It’s still too early to say where Derrick Rose will fall, but unless this is the last major injury of his career and he goes on to win five rings, he’s crack the top five eventually.
You can't talk about injury-prone players without mentioning Dwyane Wade. The Heat star has never missed a full season due to injury, nor have his bad legs kept him from putting up superstar numbers and winnings championships. But he rarely playes anything close to a full season, appearing in fewer than 70 games in five of his 11 pro seasons—one of which was shortened by a lockout, much to Wade's benefit. As for this season, Wade has missed 17 games and played 39. So the trend continues.
13. Dwyane Wade
When I recently looked up Chris Webber's per game stats, I thought damn, that guy put up some fantastic numbers. So why in the hell do I always think of his career as somewhat of a disappointment? Then I looked at the number of games played and it all made sense. I always of think of his career as somewhat a disappointment because he was always injured. His second and third years in the NBA were significantly shortened, as were his sixth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth seasons.
Of course, none of Webber's injuries were more devastating than the knee injury he suffered in Game 2 of the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals. Not only did that one keep him out most of the following season. It also ruined the Sacramento Kings' chances of winning a title.
12. Chris Webber
Amar'e Stoudemire's injury troubles didn't just start after he signed his five-year, $100 million deal with the Knicks. Though his time in Phoenix was mostly a success, as you can see, he missed a lot of games there, too. The fact that this 6'10" center completely broke down in his 30s should hardly have come as a shock.
11. Amar'e Stoudemire
After a smoking hot start to his career with Toronto and Orlando, Houston thought they were getting the best years of a superstar career when they acquired T-Mac via trade in 2005. And for one year they did. Then the injuries started. McGrady only played 47 games in 2005-06 due to recurring back problems, and from 2007 to 2010 he played no more than 66 games. Finally, in 2013, he retired from the NBA at the age of 33.
10. Tracy McGrady
When healthy, point guard Baron Davis was a 20 PPG player. Unfortunately, he was rarely healthy. He played all 82 games the first three years of his career. After that, he went five straight seasons in which he averaged 56 games, and he finished his career by playing 29 games for the Knicks in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.
9. Baron Davis
Sam Bowie will always be known as the guy the Portland Trail Blazers picked with the second pick in the 1984 draft instead of Michael Jordan. Thus, he'll always be known as one of the biggest busts in the history of the NBA draft. However, that's not entirely fair. The guy had a very promising rookie season in which he averaged 10 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game.
However, soon after that the 7'1" center suffered a string of major leg and foot injuries that limited him to 38 games in his second year, five games in his third year, and zero games in his fourth year. After that, he was never the same.
Now, these injury problems were foreseeable. Bowie's college career was also plagued by injuries, so Portland definitely should have picked MJ. But it's not fair to label Bowie a bust as though he simply didn't play up to his potential. The talent was there, he just couldn't stay healthy.
8. Sam Bowie
Grant Hill was an NBA superstar up through his age 27 season, when he average 25.8 points per game. Then he injured his ankle in his first season with the Magic and everything fell apart. After playing just 47 games in his first three seasons there, he sat out the entirety of the 2003-04 season.
Of course, Hill would eventually get healthy in 2006 and play until 2013 at the age of 40. But he lost all of his prime to injury.
7. Grant Hill
Speaking of Orlando Magic players that lost their prime to injury, we can't forget Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway. The guy was superstar after his first three seasons in the league. He had his own ad campaign and everything. In the 12 years after that, he played a full season just twice. And by his age 25 season he was almost average.
6. Penny Hardaway
Be honest—you almost forgot Andrew Bynum even existed, didn't you? In nine NBA seasons Bynum has played more than 65 games just once and more than 60 games just three times. He didn't play at all during the 2012-13 season, when he was technically with the Sixers—though he did go flamenco dancing in Spain.
5. Andrew Bynum
The Toronto Raptors selected Jonathan Bender with the fifth overall pick in the 1999 draft but traded him immediately to the Pacers, who thought he'd be their center of the future. Instead, he averaged just 45.6 games his first five seasons and 4.5 games the next two before missing the next three seasons altogether with a series of catastrophic knee injuries.
4. Jonathan Bender
If not for his historic collegiate career under John Wooden at UCLA, it's highly unlikely Bill Walton would be in the basketball Hall of Fame. Walton had four solid seasons to start his pro career, but even in those he never played more than 65 games. After those four years, he played just four games over the next four seasons due to chronic, debilitating foot injuries. When he finally did get back on the court in 1982, Walton was still a rebounding machine, but he had lost his scoring touch.
Of course, Walton would hardly be the last NBA center to have his career ruined by chronic injuries...
3. Bill Walton
Yao Ming was a 7'6", 310-pound monster who dominated his first three years in the NBA while playing an incredible 242 games. After that he was still an All-Star calibre player, but foot and ankle injuries meant he played fewer and fewer games. Eventually, after playing just five games in 2010-11, Yao retired at the age of 30.
2. Yao Ming
The most injury-prone player in NBA history is, without a doubt, Greg Oden.
The guy sat out what would have been his rookie year with a knee injury and, when he finally made his NBA debut, he injured his foot in his first game and missed two weeks. After returning, he injured his knee again and missed three more weeks. But he eventually managed to play 61 games in his first year.
The next year he wouldn't be so durable. In November 2009, Oden suffered a microfracture in his knee that would mark the beginning of the end. He missed the rest of that season, then all of the next, all of the next, and all of the next, suffering one microfracture after another.Last year the Heat took a chance on him, but he appeared in just 23 games, averaging 9.2 minutes and 2.9 points.
Meanwhile, the guy who got drafted second overall in 2007, right behind Greg Oden, won the NBA MVP award.
That guy is, of course, Kevin Durant.