HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The yellow brick NBA road is littered with names of should-have-been legends that never got the chance to realize their potential due to injury.
It’s a cruel-but-timeless tradition, whereby a supremely talented individual sees his career either curtailed or ended altogether due to an injury that no one planned on.
We’ve already seen Greg Oden‘s season end due to a recurring injury (knee). And then there’s yesterday’s news that Yao Ming (ankle) would join him in the street-clothes brigade for the foreseeable future (he is technically out “indefinitely,” but you don’t need a translator to know his season is over).
This Yao development generated an interesting discussion here at the hideout pertaining to high picks who have had their careers derailed by injuries. In the interest of the here and now, we’ll leave yesteryear alone and excuse elders like Bernard King, Bill Walton, Sam Bowie and Ralph Sampson and HT All-Time fave Andrew Toney, just to name a few.
We’ll even excuse more recent stars like Penny Hardaway, a legend in the making before injuries robbed him of his best years.
We’re going to go with just the top 10 injury-curtailed/derailed careers since the 2000 NBA draft, based on draft position: