10 Most Crushing NBA Playoff Injuries of All Time
We all know the story.
A team is cruising along, minding their own business on the way to the title when all of a sudden—crack!
All of their hopes and dreams of dominance are thwarted by one major injury. It has happened plenty of times in the past, and it happened again this year.
When Derrick Rose blew out his knee, so, too, did the chances of a victory parade in Chicago this year (sorry Cubs, Bears and Sox fans, the Bulls were your only chance).
Here are the 10 most devastating playoff injuries of all time.
Magic Johnson, 1989
Just a year prior, the Lakers had won a second consecutive title against the Detroit Pistons, and were poised for the "three-peat."
But early in the series, the heart and soul of the team, Magic Johnson, injured his hamstring and was forced out.
The Pistons went on to sweep the Lakers in the first of back-to-back titles.
Had Magic not gone down, would history have seen things differently?
Isiah Thomas, 1988
A year later, it would be the Pistons that benefited from an injury when Magic Johnson went down.
But on this occasion, it was the Lakers that reaped the rewards.
Isiah Thomas was nursing a severely sprained ankle and was considered doubtful for Game 6 against the Lakers.
Not only did he manage to play, but he went on to score 43 points and dish out eight assists, including a miraculous 25 in the third quarter.
The Pistons went on to lose the series, due in large part to the fact that Isiah was limited to 28 minutes and managed a pedestrian 10 points in the series clincher.
Joe Johnson, 2003
In 2005, Phoenix was a juggernaut.
They finished the year with the most wins in the league, and were poised to take a run at the title.
But in their series against Dallas, Joe Johnson injured his eye, and was forced to miss substantial time.
They were still able to get past Dallas, but Johnson missed the first two games of the next series, versus San Antonio, and the Suns never recovered.
Had Johnson been healthy, there is a real chance that the Suns might have unseated the eventual champs.
James Worthy, 1983
Big game James Worthy was one of the reasons that the Lakers were so dominant in the 1980's.
But early in his career, he truly hurt his squad by fracturing his leg.
The Lakers were on a roll with Worthy, but without him they struggled mightily, and were swept by the 76ers in the finals.
Had Worthy been there to force Dr. J to play both sides of the ball, who knows what would have happened.
Dirk Nowitzki, 2003
The Mavs were truly a laughingstock for much of the 1990's and the early part of the next decade.
But a twist of fate brought them Dirk Nowitzki, and almost immediately their prospects changed.
In 2003, the Mavs were on a roll, busting their way through the playoffs, and stealing a game in San Antonio in the first game of the conference finals.
But in the third game of the series, Dirk hurt his knee and did not return.
The Mavs did their best without Dirk, but were no match for the Spurs, losing in six games.
Had Dirk played, there is almost no doubt that they would have won the series and probably the finals.
Kendrick Perkins, 2010
The 2010 NBA Finals was one of the best series I have ever witnessed.
That being said, it most assuredly would have turned out differently had one player not been sidelined.
Kendrick Perkins was a beast inside, and was the heart and soul of the interior defense for Boston.
But when he hurt his leg in Game 6, the series was all but lost by Boston.
They fought hard, but without Perkins providing a punch down low, they had no answers for the Lakers.
Yao Ming, 2009
It's hard to believe that only a few short years ago, Yao Ming was one of the best centers in basketball.
Back in 2009, the Rockets were primed for a playoff run when their star broke his foot.
Yao really was never the same after this injury, and the Rockets were bounced out of the playoffs by the eventual champion Lakers.
Derrick Rose, 2012
With Derrick Rose, the Bulls were arguably the best team in basketball.
Without Rose, they are barely a playoff team.
Willis Reed, 1970
Okay, so this one is a bit of a stretch, but stay with me here.
Had Willis Reed not injured himself, the Knicks most certainly would have waltzed to the NBA title.
The fact that they still won in spite of Reed's injury is just a testament to their overall determination. But Reed's injury was certainly devastating.
Andrew Bogut, 2010
A couple years ago, the Milwaukee Bucks were an up-and-coming team led by their star center, Andrew Bogut.
Heading into April, the Bucks were primed for the playoffs.
But then Andrew Bogut got hurt, and the Bucks, who had won 40 games with their star, limped to the playoffs without him.
They were dusted off by the Hawks in seven games and did not come that close to making the playoffs in each of the next two years.
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