Check the weirdest injuries in NBA History.
Charles Barkley: Sir Charles missed the Phoenix Suns’ 1994-95 season opener because the first layers of his cornea got burned off by body lotion during an Eric Clapton concert. Apparently, allergies and the dazzling stage lights caused him to rub his eyes, and he got lotion in them. Phoenix Suns team doctor, Richard Emerson, said: “It was a chemical reaction to a type of lotion that he uses. I wouldn’t anticipate it’ll reoccur because I don’t think he’ll use that type again.”
BJ Tyler: Prior to the 1995-96 NBA season, Tyler was selected by the Toronto Raptors in the 1995 expansion draft. According to journalist Chris Young’s book Drive, Tyler accidentally fell asleep with a pack of ice on his knee, severely damaging it and thus losing all the speed for which he was famed, and subsequently had to retire.”
Brad Miller: The former Boilermaker Miller needed nine stitches in his right index finger after almost chopping it off with a knife while doing dishes last season…on the same day he was named Western Conference Player of the Week for the second time in his career. Said Miller: “It’s the last time I help do dishes.” Said teammate Mikki Moore: “When I saw him, it was all wrapped up. So, I said, ‘You’re going to drop 20 and 20 in two games and then go and cut your knuckle off?’ I said, ‘That’s real smart, Brad.’ He said, ‘Nah, that’s my luck.'”
Corey Maggette: During the 2001-02 season, Maggette got so upset over a call that he slammed his hand on the scorer’s table in frustration and dislocated the ring and little fingers on his right hand. Maggette ended up with a cast and a four-week vacation.
Darko Milicic: Ah, Darko, Darko, Darko. He was put in for what was described as a “token” appearance in the Pistons’ Game 5 blowout of the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. He played 2 minutes, finishing with 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 turnover…and 1 broken hand. Oh yes he did. The injury required surgery and sidelines him for eight weeks.
Derrick Coleman: Coleman — whose NBA career was limited and cut short due to laziness, character issues and injury problems — got injured again, only this time it happened while filming an episode of the TV show Pros vs. Joes. DC was participating in a rebounding challenge against some “average joe” when he came down from a jump and landed awkwardly, hurting his always-troublesome knee. This means that Coleman has the dubious distinction of being the first Pro to ever get injured during a battle with a Joe.
Derrick Rose: The Bulls rookie (at the time) was forced to miss some practice time because, get ready for it, he cut himself under the elbow on his left forearm. In bed. From a knife he used to slice an apple. Said Rose: “Silly accident this morning. I went to get a bottle of water, forgot the knife was there and sat down and sliced my arm. I panicked when it first happened. I called [Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi]. We got it stitched up about 8 [a.m.]. It was a large wound, but they healed it up. I’m good. I could have practiced, but they told me to wait until [today]. I can still dribble, shoot, do all that stuff. I’m hoping they’ll let me play.”
Dirk Nowitzki: In December 2001, before a game against the Washington Wizards, Dirk sprained a tendon in his ankle when he put his shoe on improperly and the stomped his foot on the floor to make sure it was on right. The injury was so bad he missed the game.
Eddy Curry: E-City had to miss a game due to a badly sprained left ankle suffered at…a walk-through at his team’s morning shoot-around. Nope. I’m not kidding. Said teammate Malik Rose: “How do you explain something like that?” Good question. A very good question.
Eddy Curry #2: Speaking of good questions, here’s another: Can a player suffer a more embarrassing injury than spraining his ankle during a walk-through? Well, the answer is “yes” my friends. From the New York Daily News: “Poor Eddy Curry. He sat on the giant blue physioball during a break from Monday’s practice and the ball exploded. Eddy fell and scraped and his wrist but should be okay. The ball, which is used for stretching exercises, was pronounced dead at the scene.” This also answers the classic “How do you know when you’re too fat?” question. I thought those balls were indestructible.
Francisco Garcia: He broke his arm… on a physioball. No, really. At least he wasn’t so fat it exploded on him…
George McCloud: Prior to Game 3 of the 1992 first round playoff series between the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics, McCloud “held his ankle in a funny way” while talking on the phone. This somehow injured the ankle so badly he couldn’t play in the game and had to sit on the bench in street clothes as his team got eliminated.
Gilbert Arenas: File this one under “unfortunate pube shaving accidents.” Very unfortunate. I’ll let Agent Zero tell the tale: “When I was new in the NBA the team veterans convinced me to shave, you know, down there because they said the hair stinks. I used my girlfriend’s razor, which was rusty and gave me keloids. The doctor prescribed medicine to dab on, but I just poured it all over. Three days later I woke up screaming. The skin was burnt off my scrotum, down to my crack, everything — just raw flesh. I still had to run and play, so I used a numbing spray for a month until it healed. Now I use clippers.”
Greg Oden: You know that microfracture surgery that ended Oden’s rookie season before it had even begun? It happened while he was getting up off the couch.
Greg Ostertag: Ostertag fractured the third metacarpal on his right hand in October of 2004 when he tripped on a footstool while getting out of bed. Mind you, this happened after his first day of practice with his new team, the Sacramento Kings.
Jeff Ruland: In 1991 Ruland made a comeback for the Sixers. He was out of action for five years but attempted to return for the 1991-92 season. However, the comeback ended because of… a luggage cart. Yes, a luggage cart, which was (allegedly) rammed into Ruland’s leg by a Celtics employee as he waited for a team bus outside Boston Garden. (It should be noted that Ruland was not a popular in Boston, and he was even nicknamed “McNasty” by the Celtics’ late great broadcaster Johnny Most.) Ruland said: “I got run over by a luggage cart. That’s hard to swallow. It can’t be accidental, they were moving too fast. Whoever could foresee anything like this happening?”
Kendrick Perkins: Boston’s big man (at the time) missed time due to a right big toe that was injured when he dropped a bed on it. “I was asleep. I guess whoever put my bed together didn’t put it together right when I moved, so one side of my bed fell. My bed was tilted, so I got out of my bed to go push down on the other side. And when I was about getting ready to push down on the other side, the headboard started coming in. So I tried to push the headboard back so it wouldn’t fall over. My foot was under the bed and the other side of the bed fell on my foot.” Man, I hate it when that happens.
Kevin Johnson: During the mid-90s, KJ won a regular season game on a buzzer-beating shot and received a crippling bear hug from teammate Charles Barkley. And I mean “crippling” in the literal sense. Chuck squeezed Kevin so hard his shoulder was dislocated. (At least Barkley didn’t rub any body lotion in KJ’s eyes.) He was out of action for the next two weeks. KJ also had hernia surgery in 1996 after years of abdominal problems that were allegedly brought on by picking up teammate Oliver Miller to celebrate a play.
Kobe Bryant: He hurt his back. Vacuuming. But he says it’s because of vacuum size discrimination.
Larry Bird: In the fall of 1988, Bird was attempting a comeback from dual-Achilles surgery when he permanently injured his back. How? He was undercut by Michael Jordan, who then fell on Bird… in the Kenny Rogers Charity Basketball Tournament in Kentucky. According to his second autobiography, Bird Watching: On Playing and Coaching The Game I Love, Bird said: “We were in the final minutes of this charity basketball game when I went up for a rebound and came down a little sideways. Michael Jordan was going for the ball too, and he landed on my back. Right away I knew I was in trouble. I had torn additional portions of the disc wall, and my back was really traumatized. I didn’t know it then, all the way back in 1989, but that was the beginning of the end…I never came all the way back.”
Latrell Sprewell: The man who once choked his coach, broke his hand by taking a swing at the boyfriend of a female party guest who threw up on his yacht. But it seems that Spree’s punches were roughly as accurate as his jumpers (42 percent lifetime): He whiffed and punched the wall instead. Sprewell tried to cover up the incident, but some of his guests leaked the story and the Knicks fined Spree $250,000 for not reporting the injury. Sprewell complained about it to the press. “They talk about being a family but they’re not sticking with me. The biggest thing to me is that I’m hurt. So don’t kick me when I’m down.”
Lionel Simmons: Simmons suffered an injury during the 1990-91 season: He missed two games with wrist tendonitis caused by overtraining on his Nintendo Game Boy. Note that, a year later, Derrick McKey missed seven games with the same injury.
Luc Longley: During the 1996-97 season, the Bulls lost Longley’s services for seven weeks after he got hurt body surfing. Yeah. Luc was body-surfing off the coast of Los Angeles coast when an unexpectedly strong wave drove him shoulder-first into the ocean floor and knocked his clavicle and shoulder out of place.
Michael Jordan: Although MJ was already kinda sorta unofficially retired (again), Jordan severed a tendon in his right index finger (i.e., on his shooting hand) while using a cigar cutter in January 1999. Officially listed as an “a laceration of the flexor tendon,” Jordan needed surgery to repair it and six weeks of occupational therapy to rehabilitate it.
Muggsy Bogues: The tiny, tiny man (who was playing for the Toronto Raptors at the time) missed the second half of a game against the Portland Trailblazers after accidentally sucking in some ointment fumes during a halftime treatment. (“Ointment fumes”…so that’s what the kids are calling it these days? I guess I should double-check with Josh Howard.) Said Bogues: “Never happened to me before and I hope it never happens again. That was one of those fluke things you don’t even dream about.”
Ruben Patterson: This entry harkens back to 2003, during Portland’s infamous “Jail Blazer” era. Patterson ended up with a shiny black eye thanks to a five-knuckled “hello” from teammate Zach Randolph. Patterson, who earlier that season had been arrested on suspicion of domestic assault, was arguing with Qyntel Woods, who himself had been recently cited by Portland police on marijuana possession charges after a traffic stop when Randolph stepped in and sucker-punched Patterson. While it should be noted, Patterson was being restrained by teammates. Nice, huh? Patterson then promised not to retaliate…until his probation expired in May (it was April at the time). Good times all around.
Scott Williams: While playing for the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan-less 1993-94 season, Williams had a string of bizarre injuries. First, he missed four days of practice after straining his shoulder at the team’s annual bowling outing. A few days later, he hurt his back lifting a TV he bought on sale. Then, later in the season, he injured a tendon behind his right kneecap while stretching, and that was the end of his season.
Vladimir Radmanovic: In February of 2007, Radmanović separated his shoulder falling on a patch of ice in Park City, Utah. Or so he claimed. But a few days later, Radmanović admitted that he had actually hurt himself in a fall while snowboarding. Said the Radman: “The truth is that I hurt myself in a fall while snowboarding. Being young and sometimes immature, I initially panicked and made up a false story about how I hurt myself.
However, over the past few days, my conscience has been bothering me terribly. I am not a dishonest person and could no longer live with this deception. Therefore, I came forward today and told the truth to the Lakers.” Mind you, his contract specifically banned him from taking part in activities that involve significant risk of injury, including skiing and snowboarding. The space cadet was fined $500,000.