Long spells on the sidelines can take a major toll on a player’s overall performance, as getting back to game shape and trying to keep up with players that are already used to, it’s not going to be easy.
As years go by and players tend to age, their bones and muscles tend to lose strength and the recovery process is way slower, so it’s not odd to see veterans struggle after they come back from injury.
The same goes for players that take a step aside for undisclosed personal reasons and struggles and they intend to come back to the league, becoming a bare ghost of who they used to be on the court. Today, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 most disappointing comebacks in NBA history.
10. Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose’s comeback was one of the most awaited by NBA fans ever, as the point guard always seemed close to making a return but just lacked the character and mindset to try and force his body to play.
Rose lost most of his explosiveness when he came back to the league in after seasons in the sidelines. Constantly getting hurt, again and again, he even looked like he had lost his desire to play basketball and it looks like he’s never going to go back to his former self. Maybe he has the last chance this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
9. Yao Ming
There was a time when Yao Ming was one of the league’s biggest sensations, being a huge giant that never truly lived up to his full potential but still was able to knock everybody off their feet when he was inspired, leading the Rockets to the playoffs next to Tracy McGrady and creating one of the most beloved duos ever.
Even so, Yao suffered a foot injury that kept him out of the entire 2009-10 NBA season and most of the 2010-11 as well, only being able to make 5 appearances en route to averaging 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
8. Bob Cousy
Bob Cousy was one of the most dominant players during his prime, and one of the main reasons why the Boston Celtics were able to find such success during basketball’s early stages, winning 6 NBA Championships dressed in green and white.
The point guard was known for being an extremely crafty playmaker as well as a dominant scorer, leading the league in dimes 8 times and also winning 1 MVP. Nonetheless, after being retired for 7 years, he decided to make a comeback with the Cincinnati Royals as a player-coach, but only made 7 appearances and averaged 0.7 points and 1.4 assists per game.
7. Dave Cowens
Dave Cowens also spent most of his NBA career dressed in green and white as a member of the Celtics, tutored by Bill Russell en route to becoming one of the most dominant low post defenders in the league during his prime.
Cowens won a couple of Championships with the Celtics, won the MVP, 1 MVP and made 3 All-Defensive squads, posting averages of 17.6 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game, but after deciding to retire for one season, he made a short tenured comeback with the Bucks and merely averaged 8.1 points and 6.9 boards a contest.
6. Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum had an injury-riddled career and it’s pretty sad to think how good he could’ve been had he been more disciplined and health would’ve gone his way, being one of the most skilled players at his position during his short-tenured prime in the league.
Bynum’s footwork was outstanding and he could bully his way to the rim due to his physical presence, but following his season-ending knee injury, he was never able to establish himself back in the league, making 26 more appearances before heading out the door.
5. Larry Sanders
There was a time where everybody thought of Larry Sanders as an actual factor down low, especially in the defensive end of the hardwood, and the big man seemed poised to get paid a lot of cash for the next couple of seasons.
Nonetheless, he decided to retire early due to personal struggles and marijuana abuse, and when he finally decided to make a comeback with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 after one season in the sidelines, the former Buck was only able to average 0.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in just 5 games and 2.6 mins a night.
4. Deron Williams
Ever since leaving the Utah Jazz, Deron Williams simply wasn’t anywhere nearly the dominant point guard he used to be, being considered the best playmaker in the world at some point of his career.
Williams was never able to go back to full health and was constantly missing games due to different ailments, up to the point where he’s not even in the league anymore despite being just 33 years old.
3. Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury was always so full of himself that he became one of the most uncoachable players in the history of the game, up to the point where he even threatened to kill Isiah Thomas - his coach back then - because he was going to demote him to a substitute role.
Moreover, Marbury’s NBA career didn’t get off to the best of outlooks, as he suffered an ankle injury and was completely left out of the Knicks rotation for most of the campaign, with the team eventually buying him out. Marbury would come back with the Celtics but would average just 3.8 points and 3.3 dimes a game.
2. Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins was never much of a fan favorite due to his hard-nosed temper and bully attitude, but there was a time where he was one of the most dominant lockdown rim protectors and physical defenders in the world.
Perkins is arguably one of the worst offensive big men in the history of the league but even though, he was a major let down when he attempted his comeback after one year out of the league, making just 1 appearance with the Cavs, but still trash talking the hell out of Stephen Curry from the bench.
1. Greg Oden
Greg Oden was out of the league for some time following constant season-ending injuries that stopped him from becoming the dominant two-way big man everybody - especially the Portland Trail Blazers - hoped he would become.
So, after being out of the NBA for 3 years, Oden made his comeback in with the Miami Heat in 2013 but was only able to make a handful of appearances, averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds on 55% shooting in just 23 games.