NBA's 8 Worst Injury Excuses of the Past Decade
Even though some NBA players are getting paid over $20 million to participate in a playground game, there are a few players who come around and actually go as far as faking an injury or making up an excuse in order to get out of a game.
Of course, it's not always the player. Sometimes the organization itself will make up a strange reasoning to an injured player.
Players faking injuries happens for various reasons. It could sometimes be used for rest, as a way to stick it to the organization or coach or even as a way to inspire your teammates, as you will soon see. Overall, the majority of the eight strange excuses to injuries we will see stem from either an excuse or plain stupidity.
Most recently, J.R. Smith and Patrick Mills were accused of faking injuries during their time in China. Both of their organizations called them out on their supposed injuries. There's plenty of reason to believe their injuries were faked as well. Many NBA players aren't given superstar treatment the second they join a team overseas. Sometimes they actually have to work their way into the rotation.
Or because neither wanted to play anymore. It sure did seem that way judging how quickly certain NBA players raced back home and made up excuses to come back to the United States.
This article, however, is dedicated strictly to the NBA in the past decade and the eight players who have had some of the strangest excuses for their injuries.
Monta Ellis and His Moped
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Even though he was taken in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft, there still seemed to be some sort of aura surrounding Monta Ellis that made him appear to be more than meets the eye.
The Golden State Warriors saw it. After an uneventful rookie season where he only played in 49 games and averaged six points per, Ellis was thrust into a more consistent rotation and would start 53 games in his sophomore season. He'd average 17 points per on 48 percent shooting to aid the Warriors to the postseason and a stunning upset over the No. 1-seeded Dallas Mavericks.
The following season he'd average 20 points per game on an absurd 53 percent shooting. Throughout the season, the Warriors knew they had something special on their hands, and they decided to give Ellis an offer worth $66 million over the next six years. Monta was meant to usher in a new era of Warriors basketball, one that was meant to bring back memories of Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond.
Since fate happens to be cruel mistress, however, Ellis would tear a ligament in his right ankle over the offseason. Ellis claimed that the injury occurred during a pickup basketball game. Skepticism arose as Ellis' story didn't match up with the severity of the injury that was going to keep him out a large portion of the regular season.
Then we found out, and it probably would have been better if we didn't know.
Ellis wasn't injured playing pickup basketball, but as a result of crashing his moped. For those who don't know, a moped is a street legal motorized scooter. Sources said that the crash came at a low speed, but we're pretty sure that the Warriors organization was too blind with fury to care.
The Warriors could have ended their relationship with Ellis right there. Instead they kept him on the team, and he'd average a career high 26 points per game the very next season. He and Stephen Curry would form one of the league's most lethal backcourts until the team decided to trade him to Milwaukee.
Paul Pierce Gets Wheeled out of Boston
We all know about the legendary story of Willis Reed and his triumphant return in one of the most uplifting and inspirational stories in the history of the game.
For those who don't know, it goes a little something like this: In the 1970 NBA Finals, the New York Knicks were taking on the Los Angeles Lakers. The series was tied at three games apiece with the decisive Game 7 being held in New York. Unfortunately for the Knicks, they were expected to be without the league's MVP in forward-center Willis Reed due to a severe thigh injury that occurred the game before.
The story then plays out like a movie. Reed comes out of the lockerroom with his teammates in Game 7 for shootaround. There's an obvious limp in his step, but he's still given the start. When the game starts, Reed scores the first four points for the Knicks and sits out the rest of the game. Inspiration did its job as the Knicks would win 113-99 and the NBA championship.
Let's fast forward to 2008.
The Boston Celtics are taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. It's Game 1, and it's a back-and-forth affair. The Lakers are up 62-58 early in the third quarter when Celtics small forward suddenly doubles over in pain after apparently hurting his knee. Pierce is in obvious pain, so much pain that he needs a wheelchair to get taken off the court.
Three minutes later, Pierce hits the court and immediately hits consecutive three-pointers to give the Celtics a lead that the Lakers would never catch. Pierce would end up with 22 points. Boston would win 98-88 and would eventually win the series in six games.
But what about that injury? How does a player go from being in so much pain and needing your teammates and a wheelchair to get you into the lockerroom to then coming back a few minutes later and playing just as well as you were before?
I'm not going to make assumptions. I'll leave that to you, dear reader.
Vince Carter Gives Up on Toronto
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I'm sure that Raptors nation is rejoicing over this inclusion.
They know all too well about fake injuries and the superstars that abuse this power. Their particular superstar happened to be Vince Carter. Taken with the fifth pick in the 1998 draft, the Golden State Warriors made the decision to trade their selection to the Raptors for Antawn Jamison.
It appeared the the Raptors won this battle, as Carter would win Rookie of the Year after averaging 18 points and six boards per. Carter would then go on to average 26 points per game next season, a career-high 28 the next and then 25 in his fourth season. In 2001, the Raptors enjoyed Carter's company so much that they gave him a deal worth $94 million.
The Raptors were contenders and didn't have to worry about a similar fate as their Canadian brethren in the Vancouver Grizzlies, who had moved to Memphis after disappointing seasons and little support. Canada loved the Raptors, however, and they mostly loved Vince Carter for giving them a reason to love basketball.
Do you see why the Raptors faithful to this day are still angry at Carter? Allow me to proceed.
Carter was playing excellent, but he wanted more. He wanted to win a championship. He began demanding ownership to bring in good players, with Steve Nash and Jamaal Magloire being targets. When Raptors ownership dropped the ball by not acquiring either of those players, Carter's tenure with Toronto began to take a turn for the worse.
Vince wasn't trying and would eventually blame injuries for his poor effort. Word is that he developed "jumper's knee," but not much of the Great White North was buying it. Carter's final years in Toronto were pitiful compared to his first years. After an injury-plagued 2002-'03 season, he'd return to average 23 points per on a career low 42 percent from the field.
He would play in 20 games next year with Toronto before getting traded to the New Jersey Nets. In his final games with Toronto, Carter's minutes were decreased, and he'd end up averaging a lowly 16 points per on 41 percent shooting.
Tim Duncan Is Old
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich not only possesses the ideal mentality of a champion head coach, but also happens to have a humorous side that allows him to be so well-respected by players and coaches alike.
Take for instance the beginning of the 2008-'09 season. Shaquille O'Neal didn't take too kindly to the Spurs constantly hacking him in order to be sent to the foul line. It's an nontraditional strategy that isn't widely accepted, but it's the smart thing to do against teams that have a poor free throw shooter in a close game.
O'Neal criticized Popovich, and how did the Spurs coach respond? By making Michael Finley foul O'Neal five seconds into the first game of the season. O'Neal was shocked at first, but broke out in a smile after seeing Popvich's smile and thumbs up on the bench. It was an excellent job at trolling, and an even greater gesture at poking fun at yourself.
The humor hasn't died.
The San Antonio Spurs know that they're only a few years away from possibly facing obscurity. Manu Ginobili is 34 years old and has been dealing with injuries over the past two years, and Tim Duncan's knees are so bad that he only has a few years left. Tony Parker has been manning the fort, but it still hurts the team to not have Duncan and Ginobili at full strength.
Nevertheless, the Spurs are now at the top of the Western Conference, thanks to the unbelievable coaching and philosophy of Popovich. In the middle of the season, he decided to pull something that we never saw in a box score before.
Duncan was given the night off on March 25. The reasoning on the box score? "Old." That's all it says.
Well played, Gregg. Well played.
Dirk Nowitzki Gets Sent Home
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The 2011-12 season has had its moments, but it's been a drag overall.
Is it just me, or does anyone feel that this season has dragged on a lot longer than the standard 82-game season? Perhaps it is just me. However, I could feel this way simply because of the product we've been given.
The lockout took an obvious toll on a great deal of players, and it's affected how efficient teams usually are. In fact, there are only four teams currently averaging over 100 points per game.
As a result, we have a few players performing well below expectations and others dealing with severe injuries. This occurred because not every player was ready for the regular season to begin on such short notice, as well as nobody getting the practice in training camp or preseason. With players not getting the time to practice, we've even seeing some legends regress.
Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki was a prime example. The Finals MVP was still riding the high from winning his franchise their first ever championship, but it didn't seem to carry over to the next season. The usually consistent and deadly shooter wasn't hitting the same shots he had been hitting for the past decade, and it caused a great decrease in his stats.
He's currently shooting 46 percent from the field, his lowest shooting percentage since his rookie year. He's also averaging 21 points per game, which is his lowest output since his second year in the league. Obviously there was something wrong with Dirk. There was no other way to explain it. It wasn't as if defenders were playing him better because there's no possible way to stop him.
Well, here's where the story gets strange. Dirk sat out a few games at the beginning of the season, and there allegedly were disputes over why Nowitzki did indeed sit out. It was originally blamed on a sore knee, but word came in that it could have been a conditioning issue.
In other words, it was the Mavericks organization telling Nowitzki to go home and figure out how to shoot again.
Gilbert Arenas Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving
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The Washington Wizards were just fishing for at least one more reason to discard of Gilbert Arenas.
The immaturity, the lack of success, the selfishness and the gun charges all played a key role in Arenas' departure, but those weren't even the straws that broke the camel's back. In fact, what made the Wizards heavily pursue to find a way in trading Arenas occurred during the team's first preseason game?
You thought JaVale McGee and Jordan Crawford were immature? They have an excuse for being young. Arenas made up this injury at the age of 29 for no good reason. Well, there's a reason, but it's not a very good one.
Prior to a preseason game in October 2010, Arenas was declared out after claiming that his knee hurt. The Wizards would start Nick Young in his place. There's nothing too fishy here at all at first glance. It's a preseason game and why risk losing the former superstar that's already plagued with injuries.
Then we found out and it was at that moment that we realized this man truly was insane.
"I told [Young] I'd sacrifice playing tonight so he can get some time in because I know he's kind of frustrated ... I told him I'll go and fake an injury or say something's wrong with me so you can start."
Hold the phone. Arenas blatantly lied to Wizards management about an injury, so that another player could start in his place? Understood that this is only a preseason game, but it just goes to show how poor of character and judgment Arenas truly is. This is a veteran who has led this team to the postseason that is openly telling reporters he straight-up lied to his coach and the head office.
Arenas played 21 uneventful games that season and would get traded to the Orlando Magic, thus ending the 'Agent Zero' era in Washington.
Shaquille O'Neal Fakes His Way out of Miami?
You have to respect Shaquille O'Neal for all he's done in the league, but you also have to take into account just how bitter and mean the future Hall of Famer can truly be.
He started out early by spurning the Orlando Magic for more money in Los Angeles, where he'd then take part in a highly publicized feud with Kobe Bryant and go as far as criticizing his teammate's troubled marriage. Of course, Bryant had a few verbal jabs as well, but O'Neal made it a personal issue when there didn't need to be one.
As a result of the feud, the Lakers ended up trading O'Neal to the Miami Heat for Brian Grant, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom and a few picks. Shaq made a few huge promises for the Heat faithful by guaranteeing a championship during his time there. He nearly made that wish come true in his first season, but a rib injury to Wade in the Conference Finals would lead to their eventual demise.
It wouldn't be until next year that the Heat would win a title. Dwyane Wade averaged 35 points per game and would win Finals MVP. While O'Neal only managed to average 13 points and nine boards per in the Finals, his presence alone was enough to attract attention in order to get easy scores for his superstar in the making teammate.
After that season, it got ugly in Miami. I'm talking Pamela Anderson without makeup ugly. I'm talking Nick Nolte's mugshot ugly. Seriously, the final years of O'Neal's tenure in Miami were about as watchable as these past few seasons of the "The Simpsons" because we knew how good it used to be when they had the right pieces.
The Heat would lose by 42 points in the season opener and would end up getting swept in the first round by the same team that delivered the beating on opening day. Wade's injuries were beginning to pile up, as he dealt with another injury-plagued season where he only participated in 40 games. He played in only 59 the year before.
He would get traded in the 2007-08 after 33 games. The Heat might have let O'Neal off the hook, but Shaq sure didn't do the same for his former organization. He would criticize the roster and would go as far as criticizing the Heat training staff. He essentially put the blame on them for the injuries he dealt with in Miami.
This is where we find O'Neal injuries questionable. In the 2007-08 season where he barely played and was posting up career lows, the team was in a tailspin, and he wanted out of Miami in order to not tarnish his image of being on a team that would eventually finish 15-67. He forced his way out, wasn't happy with Pat Riley's coaching and would start anew in Phoenix.
As far as criticizing the Heat training staff? This is the same training staff that is keeping Dwyane Wade on an NBA court. The 2009 scoring champion who came near to never being the same player again went through extensive hours of surgeries and training with the Heat staff between 2006 and 2008, and it paid off in dividends.
With Wade still playing excellent and O'Neal eventually faltering due to numerous injuries, it became hard to believe that Shaq's injuries were as serious as he claimed them to be. Of course, I don't know the guy or the specifics of the injury, so I'll leave that for you to decide.
LeBron James' Elbow
Why did LeBron James jump ship in order to join the Miami Heat? Not to be a villain to Cleveland, but rather to win an NBA title.
He knew he wasn't going to win it in Cleveland. Not with the roster he had and not with the rosters he was going to have in the future based on the organization's track record of impact signings and trades. Even those who criticize LeBron for Cleveland knew that he wasn't going to win a title as long as he stayed with the Cavaliers.
James was only one man, and apparently it takes a lot more than that to win a title. Mo Williams wasn't delivering as he was in the regular season, and Shaquille O'Neal's ineffectiveness and injuries were not going to be enough to support LeBron to a title. They could skate by in the regular season with a roster like that, but balance and depth plays too big a role in the postseason when you have to play your opponent up to seven times.
It becomes a lot easier to make adjustments in the postseason. If LeBron has an amazing first two games of a series, why not find ways to limit him and make his teammates work? When the defense got tougher and tougher and his teammates weren't as effective as they were in the regular season, James would ultimately fail and the blame would come upon him.
This is the reasoning as to why some skeptics believe that James' elbow injury against the Boston Celtics in the 2010 Semifinals was an exaggeration. LeBron was dealing with an injury to his right elbow throughout the season. It became apparent how badly James favored his elbow when he shot a left-handed free throw during the series.
However, we became a little too critical on LeBron's injury following the conclusion of the Cavaliers 4-2 loss to the Celtics. This was the fifth consecutive year that James had led the Cavs to the playoffs and the third consecutive trip without a berth in the NBA Finals.
It was about this time that LeBron was dubbed as a quitter. Disgruntled fans and fairweather observers pointed out James' stats and how they failed to compare with the usual stats he put up. Strange to imagine, but Game 5 of the series is an example of the evidence used against James.
The Cavaliers lost by 32 points at home, and James only had 19 points. The only category he led the team in was assists, which he finished with seven. Shaquille O'Neal ended up leading the team in scoring with 21 points.
Of course, you could just say James had 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists in the next game which was a loss, but it's so much more fun to make up conspiracy theories and lambast a player for the next two years.