5 NBA Players Whose Careers Ended Due to Injury

Updated on March 28, 2020
Jan Michael Ong profile image

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Brandon was one of the elite shooting guards in the NBA in his short career.
Brandon was one of the elite shooting guards in the NBA in his short career.

1. Brandon Roy

Right off the gate, Brandon Roy was one of the best shooting guards in the league. In his rookie debut, he scored 20 points against his hometown team—the Seattle Supersonics. He would then go on to average double figures in his maiden season. For this, Brandon Roy won the Rookie of the Year Award.

Roy's rookie numbers were impressive. He averaged 16.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.2 SPG. Roy's sophomore season was even better with 19.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.8 APG, and 1.1 SPG. It appears that Brandon would be the Trailblazers' franchise player.

The Blazers were able to surround Roy with some quality pieces such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews, and Greg Oden. The future was looking bright for Roy and the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers seemed to be resurrected after the JailBlazers era.

Alas, this was not meant to be as Roy's knees gave out on him. He had these problems back in college, and they seemed to be resurfacing. On April 11, 2010, Roy had a knee injury that would be the beginning of the end to his promising NBA career. An MRI showed a meniscus tear. Roy was able to come back that year for some postseason heroics.

Despite looking seemingly okay at the beginning of the 2010 season, Roy's knees gave out on him in December of that year. Roy underwent surgery and was back in February, but he now had a reserve role and was playing fewer minutes.

Despite the injuries, Roy valiantly played in the Dallas series and was vintage Brandoy Roy in game 4. The Blazers would eventually lose the series in six games, and these would be Roy's last games in a Blazer's jersey.

Roy retired in 2011 due to persistent knee issues. He made an attempt to come back in the 2012-2013 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves—the team that drafted him. The comeback was short-lived and lasted only five regular season games.

Greg Oden showed a lot of promise during the limited games he played in his career.
Greg Oden showed a lot of promise during the limited games he played in his career.

2. Greg Oden

The Portland Trailblazers do not seem to have luck when it comes to injuries. Their prized pick in the Michael Jordan draft, Sam Bowie, was a standout in Kentucky but was marred by leg injuries. Their shooting guard of the future, Brandon Roy, was maligned with knee issues. Now, it was their center in the Kevin Durant draft that was being hit with knee problems. The Blazers simply could not catch a break.

Greg Oden was supposed to be the next great defensive center. In college, Oden played for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Along with teammate Mike Conley Jr, they dominated the collegiate ranks en-route a championship game match-up against the Florida Gators. Though they lost the game, Oden was an absolute beast with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks.

The Portland Trailblazers were impressed with Oden's dominance and picked him over Texas Longhorn star Kevin Durant. This would turn out to be a costly error in hindsight and has been compared to the time the Blazers picked Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

From the get go, the prospects appeared bleak for Greg Oden's career. Before the season even began, Oden had microfracture surgery. This sidelined him for what should have been his rookie season.

In his second year, Oden was at the healthiest he had been in his entire career and played 61 games. Even then, Greg still had his fair share of injuries. He had a foot injury in his NBA debut. He then had a knee injury in February.

In his third season, Greg showed some promising signs of improvement. He scored a career high for points with 24 and a career high for rebounds with 20. However, he only played 21 games due to more knee injuries.

Oden sat out the next season and concentrated on rehab. He hoped to come back the next season and try to revive his NBA career.

Greg tried to attempt a comeback with the Miami Heat. Powered by the "big three" of Le Bron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, Miami made it to the Finals. They were promptly decimated by the San Antonio Spurs.

It was not that Greg was a bad player. Greg was simply too fragile for the rigors of NBA basketball. Because of his severe injury history and mature looks, many people suspected Oden of being much older than he actually was. Some even joked that he was LeBron James' dad.

Jay Williams was drafted to be the point guard of the future for the Chicago Bulls.
Jay Williams was drafted to be the point guard of the future for the Chicago Bulls.

3. Jay Williams

People today know Jay as a basketball analyst for ESPN. Before that, however, he was a collegiate star in Duke and was hailed as the savior of the Chicago Bulls.

While Jay was no Allen Iverson in terms of rookie impact, he still posted solid rookie numbers. He scored 9.5 PPG, 4.7 APG, and 1.1 SPG. Jay was inconsistent during his rookie campaign, but his high basketball IQ still shined through.

Jay's first season in the NBA would end up being his last. Jay crashed his Yamaha R6 motorcycle into a streetlight during the offseason. He ended up with multiple injuries that effectively ended his career. He damaged a nerve in his leg, suffered a fractured pelvis and dislocated several ligaments in his left knee.

Riding a motorcycle violated Jay's contract, and he was fortunate that the Bulls still paid him out.

The Bulls moved on from Jay and drafted Kirk Hinrich to take his place in the roster. We would never know, though, if Jay would eventually become a star in the league. All we have are what-ifs.

He made two comeback attempts—one with the New Jersey Nets and another with the Miami Heat, and both did not work out.

Andrew Bynum was supposed to be the next great center for the Lakers but immaturity and injury ruined that.
Andrew Bynum was supposed to be the next great center for the Lakers but immaturity and injury ruined that.

4. Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum was drafted 10th in the 2005 NBA Draft with great expectations. He was a beast at St. Joseph High School and averaged 22.4 points, 16.8 rebounds and 5.3 blocks in his senior season.

Andrew was expected to be the next great Lakers center. He was expected to follow the footsteps of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O' Neil.

The first two seasons were an adjustment period for the former high school phenom. The Lakers did not see significant production from Bynum in his first two years.

The third season was a breakout season for Andrew. He averaged 13.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 2.1 BPG. Things were looking up for the development of the Lakers' young center.

What was a caveat with Bynum was his constant knee problems. He did not work as hard as he should have in managing his weight to ease the pressure on his knees and in rehabbing. In fact, Andrew even got injured while bowling.

With the Lakers, Bynum formed a twin tower combination with All-Star Pau Gasol. Bynum provided the muscle. Gasol provided the finesse.

Andrew was a key cog in the post-Shaq two-peat. With a core that included Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol, the Lakers were able to beat the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic to become world champions.

On August 10, 2012, the Lakers shipped Bynum to the 76ers in the multi-team Dwight Howard trade. Andrew has never been the same ever since. He had three unsuccessful stints in Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Indiana and was out of the league at the age of 27.

Brad Daugherty anchored the middle for the Cleveland Cavaliers in his short NBA career.
Brad Daugherty anchored the middle for the Cleveland Cavaliers in his short NBA career.

5. Brad Daugherty

Brad Daugherty came in at the time the Cleveland Cavaliers had the perfect storm. Cleveland had acquired the 1st overall pick from the 76ers for the small price of Roy Hinson, and this became Brad Daugherty. The Cavs used their own pick to draft Ron Harper with the 8th pick. The Cavs were also able to acquire guard Mark Price from the Dallas Mavericks. They also maximized their own second round selection by nabbing John "Hot Rod" Williams. With four quality rookies acquired in a single season, the Cavs seemed to be destined for greatness.

Brad was good right off the gate. He averaged 15.7 PPG and 8.1 RPG as a rookie. He also shot an efficient 53.8%. Because of his production, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team (1987).

Brad would go on to become one of the premiere centers in the league. He would be nominated to five All-Star selections and would average double figures for all of the eight seasons he spent in the league, including four seasons in which he averaged a double double.

Unfortunately, Brad had to call it quits after the 1993-94 season at the young age of 28 due to recurring back problems.

The Cavs honored Brad's contributions by retiring his number "43" on March 1, 1997.

Career-Ending Injuries

Which player would have been the most successful if the were not injured?

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© 2018 Jan Michael Ong


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