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Top 10 Greatest NBA Careers Destroyed By Injuries

Fadeaway World

Fadeaway World

In the NBA there have been amazing basketball players whose careers have been superb and panned out the way they should have.

Not all players though are so lucky and some players careers are plagued by injury problems.

Here is a list of ten players whose careers were ruined by injury:

Honorable Mentions

Larry Bird

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Larry Bird is one of the All-Time legends to have played the game of basketball and for sure Bird had an amazing career! Larry did suffer from back problems though which led to his retirement after playing only 13 seasons in the League. 13 seasons is a long time for most people but for Larry Bird, it simply wasn’t enough as he retired at the age of 35 years old. Larry could have played on until he was coming up to his forties but he didn’t and finished his career a 3-time NBA MVP and with 3 NBA Championships under his belt.

Bird’s top season statistically: 

Team: Boston Celtics, Season: 1987-1988

Games: 76 / MPG: 39.0 / PPG: 29.9 / RPG: 9.3 / APG: 6.1 / SPG: 1.6

Pete Maravich

James Drake/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Photo by James Drake/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Considered one of the finest shooters of all time, Maravich is still remembered by NBA fans all around the world. Maravich played a total of 11 seasons in the NBA and in that time he averaged 24.2 ppg, 5.4 apg and 4.2 rpg. Pete was a good shooter with a career field-goal percentage of 44%. Knee problems haunted Maravich’s career and he ended up retiring at the early age of 32 years old. The three-point line was introduced during Maravich’s final season in the NBA and ‘Pistol Pete’ finished with a career three-point percentage of 67%.

Maravich’s top season statistically: 

Team: New Orleans Jazz, Season: 1976-1977 

Games: 73 / MPG: 41.7 / PPG: 31.1 / RPG: 5.1 / APG: 5.4 / SPG: 1.2

10. Greg Oden


Selected first overall in the 2007 Draft, Oden was expected to be a Star in the NBA when Portland chose him over Kevin Durant. That wasn’t how his career turned out however, as Oden only played a total of 105 games in the NBA. Hampered by injury Oden failed to make an impact in the NBA and his career always seemed to be pushed back further every time he was cleared to play.

In the end, Oden finished his career with averages of 8 ppg and 6.2 rpg. The injury definitely destroyed Oden’s career and it would have been interesting to see how a healthy Oden would have done in the NBA.

Oden’s top season statistically: 

Team: Portland Trailblazers, Season: 2009-2010

Games: 21 / MPG: 23.9 / PPG: 11.1 / RPG: 8.5 / APG: 0.9 / BPG: 2.3

9. Amar’e Stoudemire


Stoudemire was selected ninth overall in the 2002 NBA Draft. A 6’10” big man who could play both the power forward and center role, it was expected Stoudemire would have a great NBA career. Amar’e won the Rookie of the Year award in his first year in the NBA during the 2002-2003 season. Unfortunately, numerous knee injuries dampened the big man’s career.

Stoudemire finished his career with averages of 18.9 ppg and 7.8 rpg during a 15 year NBA career where he was selected as an NBA All-Star 6 times.

Stoudemire’s top season statistically: 

Team: Phoenix Suns, Season: 2004-2005

Games: 80 / MPG: 36.1 / PPG: 26.0 / RPG: 8.9 / APG: 1.6 / BPG: 1.6

8. Brandon Roy


Picked sixth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, Brandon Roy was a talented shooting guard that went to college in the University of Washington. Roy, unfortunately like many others, suffered from knee injuries throughout his NBA career which led to him retiring at the age of 28 years old. Roy finished his career a 3-time All-Star who also won the Rookie of the Year award during the 2006-2007 season. Roy averaged 18.8 ppg and 4.7 apg during his 326 game NBA career.

Roy’s top season statistically: 

Team: Portland Trailblazers, Season: 2008-2009

Games: 78 / MPG: 37.2 / PPG: 22.6 / RPG: 4.7 / APG: 5.1 / SPG: 1.1

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7. Chris Webber


Webber was selected first overall in the 1993, NBA Draft. Webber was a power forward who could also play as a center on the court. Webber promised to be a top talent in the NBA and during his playing time he was great but various injuries led to him missing numerous games during his 17 year NBA career. Webber was selected as an All-Star 5 times in his NBA career.

He also finished with career averages of 20.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg and 4.2 apg. A good player who sadly didn’t reach his full potential due to injury.

Webber’s top season statistically: 

Team: Sacramento Kings, Season: 2000-2001

Games: 70 / MPG: 40.5 / PPG: 27.1 / RPG: 11.1 / APG: 4.2 / BPG: 1.7

6. Bill Walton


Walton was a top player who finished his career a two-time NBA Champion and also a former NBA MVP. Walton was a beast on the court who finished with career averages of 13.3 ppg and 10.5 rpg. Walton had many problems with his foot though which inevitably led to Bill retiring at the age of 34 years old.

Walton could have ended his career with a lot more accolades attached to his name if an injury hadn’t gotten in the way.

Walton’s top season statistically: 

Team: Portland Trailblazers, Season: 1976-1977

Games: 65 / MPG: 34.8 / PPG: 18.6 / RPG: 14.4 / APG: 3.8 / BPG: 3.2

5. Yao Ming


The 7’6” center from China was a top talent in the NBA and is now a Hall of Famer. Ming played 8 seasons in the NBA after entering the League at the age of 22 years old. Ming’s career was ridiculed with injuries to his foot and ankle though which led to Ming retiring at the age of 30 years old after having a good career with the Houston Rockets.

Ming was an 8-time All-Star and finished his career a Rockets legend. Ming was great at the time that he played in the NBA and the thought of what could have been for Ming if he never got injured is mouth-watering to think about but sadly we will never see that happen.

Ming’s top season statistically: 

Team: Houston Rockets, Season: 2006-2007

Games: 48 / MPG: 33.8 / PPG: 25.0 / RPG: 9.4 / APG: 2.0 / BPG: 2.0

4. Penny Hardaway


Hardaway was a talented player who could play the point guard, shooting guard or even the small forward spot on the court. Selected 3rd overall in the 1993 NBA Draft, it was expected that Penny would have an amazing NBA career. Unfortunately, Hardaway didn’t get to make the impact on the NBA he would have liked to due to knee injuries. In 1997, Penny first injured his ACL and that was the first of many setbacks.

Penny finished his career a 4-time All-Star and finished with career averages of 15.2 ppg and 5 apg. Penny could have went down as one of the greatest point guards of all time but sadly it wasn’t meant to be.

Hardaway’s top season statistically: 

Team: Orlando Magic, Season: 1995-1996

Games: 82 / MPG: 36.8 / PPG: 21.7 / RPG: 4.3 / APG: 7.1 / SPG: 2.0

3. Tracy McGrady


T-Mac is already seen as a top player but McGrady’s career could have ended up a lot better if he didn’t get injured as much! The Star shooting guard was a seven-time All-Star and won the Most Improved Player award in the 2000-2001 season. McGrady was a top talent but various injuries, such as numerous back spasms, held him back at different times in his career. For such an exciting player to watch McGrady’s career could have ended a lot differently if it wasn’t hampered by injury.

McGrady’s top season statistically: 

Team: Orlando Magic, Season: 2002-2003

Games: 75 / MPG: 39.4 / PPG: 32.1 / RPG: 6.5 / APG: 5.5 / SPG: 1.7

2. Grant Hill

Mandatory Credit: Eliot Schechter/ALLSPORT

Mandatory Credit: Eliot Schechter/ALLSPORT

The 6’8” small forward from Duke was a major talent but unfortunately, around the prime of his career we saw Hill suffer from lots of injuries which led to him missing a lot of time from 2000-2006, including the entire 2003-2004 season where Hill did not play one game for the Orlando Magic. Hill was a very talented player but numerous injuries to his ankle caused him to miss lots of playing time during his ‘prime years’ in the NBA. Hill finished his career a 7-time All-Star with an average of 16.7ppg.

Hill could have had an amazing NBA career to look back on, but unfortunately injury ruined Hill’s career.

Hill’s top season statistically: 

Team: Detroit Pistons, Season: 1999-2000

Games: 74 / MPG: 37.5 / PPG: 25.8 / RPG: 6.6 / APG: 5.2 / SPG: 1.4

1. Derrick Rose

Credit: SB Nation

Credit: SB Nation

Derrick Rose won the NBA MVP award when he was 22 years old, becoming the youngest person in NBA history to win the award. Rose was such an exciting prospect until injuries got the better of him and he tore the ACL in his left knee during the first round of the 2012 playoffs, leading to him missing the entire 2012-2013 season. Injury after injury came after that and Rose basically disappeared apart from the odd flash of his former MVP-self here and there.

Rose is now playing with the New York Knicks and doing okay with the team as they struggle to win games but things could have been so different if injuries hadn’t taken over for Rose. It would have been exciting to see what MVP-form Rose could have done if his career had stayed on the right path but sadly we’ll never find out.

Rose’s top season statistically: 

Team: Chicago Bulls, Season: 2010-2011

Games: 81 / MPG: 37.4 / PPG: 25.0 / RPG: 4.1 / APG: 7.7 / SPG: 1.0

It’s sad to see how good players careers have been ruined by injury. So many good players could have had different ends to their careers if an injury hadn’t struck but sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.


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