Injuries have been piling up for NBA players in recent years. There is still no explanation why that happens, but it does. It’s not a new thing, as we have seen promising careers cut short throughout the NBA history.
It usually takes serious injuries to end a player’s career, but we have also seen careers end due to troubles with the law, or due to extreme personalities. Whatever the reason, the NBA world has missed some of its brightest stars at a very young age, and here is a list of players who retired from the NBA way before their time :
7. Brandon Roy
Picked at the 6th overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, he was immediately traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for the draft rights to Randy Foye. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2007 and was made an NBA All-Star in each of the next three seasons.
Roy averaged almost 20 points per game along with 4.5 rebounds and at least 5 assists through his first four seasons and was one of the most promising Shooting Guards at that time. However, a degenerative disease in both his knees left him with literally no cartilage, resulting in a lot of pain and forcing him to quit basketball at the very young age of just 27 years old.
6. Isaiah Rider
He was picked at the 5th overall pick of the 1993 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves and went on to be selected in the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team. Rider was a flashy dunker, and won the NBA Slam Dunk contest in his first year, something that he warned us he would do in his draft day.
However, he was tormented by personal problems, and despite his amazing numbers throughout the first years of his career, his hot-headedness proved fatal for his NBA career. He reportedly threatened to have Denver Nuggets teammate Dikembe Mutombo murdered and had constant grudges with his coach. He also spits on a fan during a match and physically assaulted a female manager of a sports bar. Such actions have no place in the NBA, and he naturally had his career cut short at the age of 30.
5. Steve Francis
He had mad handles, a sick crossover dribble, and was known for his flashy dunks. However, his unique style of play was usually conceived as a mockery to the sport, or at least to opposing players. He might have made some sick passes during his good days, but his coaches always asked him to be more careful.
Frances was selected at the 2nd overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft and went on to share Rookie of the Year honors with Elton Brand. He always had problems with his coaches, and combined with his numerous injuries cut his NBA career short at the age of 30. He tried his luck in the CBA but was eventually cut after just 13 days, 14 minutes played and two points scored. just reinforced that notion.
4. Ben Gordon
Drafted at the 3rd pick of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, Ben Gordon was the only player in the NBA history to have won the Sixth Man of the Year Award as a rookie. Moreover, he is still second in career three-point field goals for the Chicago Bulls.
He didn’t have as much success when he was traded to the Pistons, in fact, his numbers (and playing time) started dipping consistently till he was eventually waived by the Magic after the 2014-15 season. He was playing in the D-League at the start of 2017, but a series of troubles with the law have ensured that his NBA career finished in 2015, when he was just 31 years old.
3. Larry Johnson
Known for his explosiveness and strength, his overall game was really strong during his days with the Charlotte Hornets. However, the “Grandmama” had a lot of beef with teammate Alonzo Mourning and was eventually traded to the Knicks.
A series of back injuries forced him to shift his game in order to become more of a perimeter shooter. Over the final three years of his career, he suffered increasingly more back problems and was eventually forced to retire at the age of 31 years old.
2. Yao Ming
Yao Ming was by far the most successful Chinese player in the NBA (and the tallest too), but he only lasted seven seasons there. He had a really soft touch around the rim, and quite a decent elbow jumper. His free throw shooting was also really good for a man his size.
However, the problem was in his lower body, as he had really fragile legs. Whether it was his knee, his toe, or that stress fracture in 2008, it was more than visible that his giant legs were made of glass. He was one of the biggest stars in the NBA, but his frail physique enabled him to play only till the age of 30.
1. Stephon Marbury
Also known as “Starbury”, he made an excellent run in his first 12 seasons in the NBA, with the Timberwolves, the Nets and the Suns. Even with the Knicks, where he had a lot of problems with the coaches. The problems stemmed from some personal issues, which peaked when he clashed with coach Isiah Thomas. There were also reports of exchanging punches with him on the team plane.
Marbury was eventually hated by the Knicks’ fans, was bought out, and his career took a turn for the worse. He battled depression problems and even had suicidal thoughts. He left the NBA at the age of 31, but he has been greatly successful in the CBA, where he is considered as a hero. Currently 40 years-old, he is still considering an NBA comeback.