Top 10 NBA Players Who Had Their Career Shorten Because Of Injuries

1 of 11

Top 10 NBA Players Who Had Injury Shorten Careers

Top 10

Ever since the NBA was in its infancy it has always had it's fill with superstars. From Jerry West to Bob Cousy. From Bill Russell to Wilt Chamberlain. From Magic Johnson to Larry Bird. From Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant to LeBron James.

The NBA has always had teams that had an all star type of athlete. Lets face it without these stars the league would have died a long time ago. There is no doubt that in the early stages of the NBA (BAA at the time) when it was made up of only eleven teams that it had a hard time staying alive.

I may not have been alive during the early years of the NBA, but I do know that if it was not for players like Bob Cousy and Bob Pettit the NBA probably would not have lasted during the 50's going into the early 60's. By that time Hall of Famers, Russell and Chamberlain, were already in the league.

Then in the 1970's it was all about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who won five MVP awards all in that decade. When the 1980's came along it was about Bird of the Boston Celtics and Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers. With those two battling it out all through the 80's these two possibly saved the NBA from falling off the map during that time.

Of course everybody knows what the 90's was about in the NBA and that was the great Jordan who is considered the greatest of all time. He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Titles in eight years with two 3-peats.

Then you have this past decade when it was about Bryant when he took the Lakers to five NBA Championships in ten years. Now in this current decade it's about two guys and they are James of the Miami Heat and Dwight Howard of the Lakers. With James winning his first NBA Championship in 2012 he is on a path to do what other NBA Legends have done when they stepped onto the court and that's winning multiple NBA Titles.

However, there are a few players in the history of the league that could have been part of the all time greats, but had their careers shorten due to injuries. For an example, where would the Portland Trial Blazers be if Bill Walton never had his history of injuries? Would the Blazers have won multiple titles? How about Yao Ming? Where would the Houston Rockets be right now if he was never injured that shorten his career? The only thing that can be asked is “What If?” Here are ten players who had their career shorten due to their history of injuries.

2 of 11

#10 Greg Oden; 2007-12

Greg Oden
Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE

The most recent disappointing player has to be Greg Oden. At only 24 years old he has only played a total of 82 games in a span of five years with the Portland Trail Blazers.

He was selected #1 overall by the Blazers in the 2007 NBA Draft. Before training camp started he had a microfracture surgery on his right knee which caused him to missed his entire rookie season. When he came back the next year to play he injured his foot which caused him to miss the first two weeks of the 2008-09 season. Later that same season he injured his left knee and missed three weeks due to that injury.

The following season (2009-10) he injured his left knee and had to miss the entire season. Then in November of 2010 he underwent another microfracture surgery, but on his left knee this time and he missed the 2010-11 season.

During the 2011-12 season the Trail Blazers waived the young man. Unless another NBA team gives him a chance to redeem himself then Oden's time in the NBA is over.

I believe that if injuries never held him back then the Blazers could have been a dominate team by now. With the players they had at the time Oden would have been a big part of it to carry the Blazers to that next level.

3 of 11

#9 Josh Howard; 2003-12

Josh Howard
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Josh Howard started great in his early NBA career when he played for the Dallas Mavericks. He was a late first round draft pick in 2003 and had his only All-Star appearance in 2007.

However, during his last few years with Dallas he started to decline and was a distraction off the court. He was traded in 2010 to the Washington Wizards where he spent two years.

A month after he was traded he underwent surgery after a tear in his ACL which cost him to miss the rest of the season. He only played 18 games during the 2010-11 season for the Wizards and it was possibly his history of recent injuries that they decided not to resign him for the following season.

Although, the Utah Jazz did sign him to play during the shorten 2011-12 season. He was only able to play 43 out of the 66 games. He missed the rest of the season due to a tear ACL once again.

As of right now nobody has signed Howard to a contract and it seems unlikely at this point a team will unless someone is injured and that team needs a back up.

I do believe that if Howard was not setback due to injuries that he would have been a great asset to the Washington Wizards and would probably have ended his career there as well. At 32 years old right now it is probably unlikely that he will ever be that All-Star type of player that he was when he played for the Mavericks. There is no doubt that his injuries cost him his career in the NBA and he probably could have been that “side-kick” on any team.

4 of 11

#8 Bobby Hurley; 1993-98

Bobby Hurley
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

There is one thing about Bobby Hurley and that is if it wasn't for the car accident he had during his rookie season that he could have been a better guard then John Stockton. There is no doubt in my mind that Hurley had his career shorten because of this accident and if it was not for that wreak then he would have lasted way longer than five seasons in the NBA.

He was a two time NCAA champion and made All-American First Team in 1993. There was a lot of hope that the accident he had would not have hurt his chances in the NBA and hope that he could perform at an All-Star level.

The accident he had it turned out to be that he was not wearing a seat-belt. If he was then the outcome of him being in the NBA could have been a different story. A seat-belt could have saved his NBA career and he could have still played during the new Millennium.

However, that type of talk is all “What If?” Nobody will know what would have happened if he would have just buckled up, but the fact is that he didn't. I do know that at the all-star level he was playing at then he would have helped the Kings tremendously. Although, the 90's was ruled by the Chicago Bulls; the two years that Jordan was retired then Hurley could have made the Sacramento Kings into a playoff contender and maybe more.

5 of 11

#7 Jamal Mashburn; 1993-04

Jamal Mashburn

Jamal Mashburn was part of the 1990's Dallas Mavericks team with Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson which they were known as the “Triple J's.” He was selected 4th overall in the 1993 NBA Draft and made an immediate impact on the Mavs.

During his rookie season he averaged 19.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. There was no doubt at the time that the Mavs could have had a decent team in the early 90's. However, during the 1995-96 season Mashburn only played 18 games. He injured himself costing him to miss the rest of the '95-96 season. Due to his problem of being injured the Mavericks traded him to the Miami Heat where he spent 3 1/2 seasons there.

Although he played eleven seasons in the league he had five seasons that he played no more than 48 games. Mashburn was selected a year before Jason Kidd was selected and Kidd is still playing. If Mashburn was not held up due to injuries then it is likely that his career would have ended possibly in the past two seasons. However, due to his injury his career ended in 2004 as a member of the New Orleans Hornets.

6 of 11

#6 Maurice Stokes; 1955-58

Maurice Stokes

Probably one of the most heartbreaking stories of a NBA player is Maurice Stokes. He only played three seasons, but he was the first “Magic Johnson” of the NBA. He could play any position as a big man, but sadly the last game of the 1957-58 season was the turning point of his life.

On March 12, 1958, Stokes was knocked unconscious after making contact on his way to the basket. After the first game of the opening round of the 1958 post-season Stokes suffered a seizure and fell into a coma which left him permanently paralyzed.

Twelve years after the incident Stokes passed away of a heart attack. Although, he only played three seasons in the NBA his legacy lives on today.

If it was not for the incident that happened to him in 1958 Stokes could have been one of the greatest player of all time. There's no doubt that Stokes was the first “Magic Johnson” and if he was around in the NBA in the 60's and early 70's; the league would have been saved during that time instead of 80's. If that was the case then the NBA today would be a different place and more advance. Maurice Stokes would have been the man responsible for it.

7 of 11

#5 Penny Hardaway; 1993-06, 2007

Penny Hardaway

It may seem that Afernee "Penny" Hardaway"had a long career, but actually from 1996-2007 he did not play a full season except for the '98-99 season. His career has been a battle with injuries one after another.

He was selected 3rd overall by the Orlando Magic in the 1993 NBA Draft the year after Shaquille O'Neal was drafted by them. His first major injury was on his left knee during the 1997-98 season and it was the first of many injuries to come later in his career.

He was traded to the Phoenix Suns in 1999 where he spent five years there then he was traded again to the New York Knicks during the 2003-04 season. He did not play during the 2006-07 season. He signed with the Miami Heat in 2007, but was released after just two months with the team.

That is where his career ends. His career was indeed a bumpy ride and in my opinion his only great years in the NBA was between 1993-97.

If he was never held back due to his injuries then I believe that he could have made a great point guard leader like a “Steve Nash” or a “Jason Kidd.” He could have led a team to a championship if his injuries never held him back. The fact that his knee was the reason of his failures it is very disappointing because who knows what the Magic could have done in the 90's.

8 of 11

#4 Ralph Sampson; 1983-91

Ralph Sampson
Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Ralph Sampson started off in the NBA with great expectation. He was drafted 1st overall in the 1983 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets where he spent five seasons there.

After his first three seasons, which he averaged 20.7 points a game, his career would steadily decline. During the 1986-87 season he suffered his first of many injuries. He was later traded to the Golden State Warriors where he spent a season and a half. He spent his last three years with the Sacramento Kings and the Washington Bullets(Now Wizards) which he played a total of 61 games.

He was the most scouted person in college and then later picked up by the Rockets with the #1 pick and if it was not for his injuries to his knee and back then Sampson could have helped the Rockets to that next level in the newly rearranged NBA at that time. Lets just hope that his son, Ralph Samson III, does not suffer the same fate as his father did.

9 of 11

#3 Pete Maravich; 1970-80

Pete Maravich

“Pistol Pete” is what they called him back in his college days and into the NBA, but the bullets ran out once he suffered his first major injury during the 1975-76 season. It was first of many injuries which cost basketball fans not to see Pete Maravich at the prime of his career.

He was forced to retire after the 1979-80 season Maravich retired and eight years later on January 5th, 1988 he passed away after collapsing while playing a pickup game.

His career came up short due to his injuries and it is disappointing since he could have been name one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived. He scored over 50 points or more six times and 40 plus points thirty-five times during the regular seasons. There's no doubt that if he wasn't held back by his injuries that Maravich would have helped the New Orleans Jazz(now Utah Jazz) reach great success in the NBA.

10 of 11

#2 Yao Ming; 2002-11

Yao Ming

Possibly the greatest basketball player to ever come out of China, Yao Ming, had a very disappointing career with the Houston Rockets. He was selected 1st overall in the 2002 NBA Draft and with a lot of hype coming into his rookie season, Ming, quickly grew into an international star.

He only missed two games during his first three years in the NBA, but soon after he started to build on injury after injury which cost him to retire after only eight seasons in the league. He actually had to miss the entire 2009-10 season due to a broken foot.

There's no doubt in my mind that if Ming's career was not held back due to injuries then the Rockets could have been a dominate team throughout the 2000's. They may have never won a NBA Championship due to the dominance of the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference, but the Rockets would have indeed given them a tough fight.

11 of 11

#1 Bill Walton; 1974-87

Bill Walton
Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Bill Walton could have been one of the greatest player in the 70's and 80's. He was, however, during his early years in the NBA. Being selected #1 overall in the 1974 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers he led his team to a NBA Championship in 1977.

However, his first setback came in his rookie year with all different types of injuries. He had injuries to his nose, wrist, leg and foot. He did not play a full season during the ten years he was in the NBA.

Despite having all types of injuries he is consider one of the top 50 players of all time and he was manage to get another ring with Larry Bird's Boston Celtics in 1986. If Walton was not an injury prone type of player then I believe that the Blazers would have had multiple titles in the 70's and Walton would have had multiple MVP awards as well.