The Worst Last-Minute Injuries in Sports‬ History

Zack PumerantzAnalyst IIIJune 10, 2012

The Worst Last-Minute Injuries in Sports‬ History

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    Another one bites the dust. That's right, I'll Have Another's bid to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978 is officially over.

    An unfortunate swollen left front tendon kept the regal thoroughbred out of the Belmont Stakes, and left heartbroken fans searching for the next winner.

    But I'll Have Another isn't the first world-class talent to endure a heartbreaking injury hours before the big game. And he surely won't be the last.

    Let's check out the rest of the unfortunate flock, or those who received crippling news at the worst time.

    Icy Hot won't be enough to heal these men.

20. Yao Ming Misses Postseason

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    The Rockets were in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1997, Houston fans naturally in a frenzy about their 2009 club. But Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers would end all hopes.

    A hairline fracture in star center Yao Ming's left foot kept him out of the '09 playoffs and the Rockets away from the promised land.

    The heartbroken Rockets crew would actually carry the Lakers to seven games before losing in what-could-have-been fashion.

19. Dwayne Roloson's Run Halted

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    After going 12–5 through the first three rounds of the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs and rising as a Conn Smythe Trophy contender, goalie Dwayne Roloson  would get pummeled by defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron and miss the rest of the series with a third-degree MCL sprain on his right knee.

    Backup Ty Conklin would lose Game 1 and second backup Jussi Markkanen would lose the Stanley Cup Finals against the Hurricanes in seven games.

18. Chris Webber Flirts with Disaster

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    The 2003 Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks were career-threatening for Chris Webber.

    In Game 2, Webber tore cartilage while running down the lane. Untouched, and out for the rest of the playoffs.

    The Kings would lose to the Mavs in seven games without their prolific forward.

17. Scott May Breaks Perfection

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    After the 1974-75 Hoosiers went undefeated and swept the Big Ten by 22.8 points per game during the regular season, Scott May and his crew seemed ready to dominate the tournament.

    But in a 83-82 win over Purdue, May would break his left arm.

    He would only play seven minutes in the No. 1 Hoosiers' loss to Kentucky (92-90) in the Mideast Regional.

16. Rio Ferdinand Exits Early

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    Having appeared on England's national team a respectable 81 times, star footballer Rio Ferdinand is clearly prepped in the intricacies of World Cup soccer.

    But the fan favorite and former Hammer of the Year award winner would suffer knee ligament damage in his left knee during his team's first full training session that would keep him out of the 2010 World Cup.

    The team would lose 4-1 to Germany in the knockout round without their star baller.

15. Mark Prior's Unrealized Future

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    After finishing the 2003 season 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA, Cubs stud Mark Prior was seen as a blossoming legend on the mound.

    But a myriad of frustrating injuries that clouded Prior's promise would come to a boil in spring training of 2006.

    Diagnosed with a strained shoulder and being placed on the 15-day disabled list were the first steps in Prior's decline.

    Oh what could have been.

14. Derek Anderson Loses Final Season

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    And no we're not referring to the edgy backup quarterback now warming the bench in Carolina.

    We're taking a trip back to 1997, when Kentucky fifth-year senior Derek Anderson, the leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference that year, was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the right knee.

    But the 13th-overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft would make up for the missed time with a championship win in 2006 with the Miami Heat.

13. Matt Schaub Watches from the Sidelines

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    Yet another victim of Albert Haynesworth's round mound of laziness.

    After Haynesworth fell on him in Week 10 last year, quarterback Matt Schaub was placed on IR with a broken meniscus, high hopes for a playoff run crumbling fast. 

    But without their leader at the helm, the Texans would somehow still beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round. They would lose the following week to the Ravens.

12. Kendrick Perkins Tears It All

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    The brute force down low, center Kendrick Perkins seemed ready to eliminate the Lakers from reaching the paint and prepped to bring victory to the Celtics during the 2010 NBA Finals. 

    But a torn MCL and PCL in Game 6 would keep him out for Game 7, and the Celtics would naturally lose the heartbreaking deciding game. 

11. Carles Puyol and David Villa Crush Spain's Dreams

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    It looks like Spain will be without their two biggest stars for Euro 2012.

    A broken leg suffered at the World Club Championship last December in Japan will keep David Villa and his sniping nature out of the lineup, while a frustrating knee injury will keep lion-hearted Carles Puyol on the sidelines.

    Heartbreaking.

10. Bob Lanier Can't Beat Defeat

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    Leading St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Final Four in 1970 as a three-time Converse All-America selection made Bob Lanier seem like a savior in New York.

    But a knee injury late in the regional championship game would keep him out of Bona's loss to Artis Gilmore's Jacksonville University team in the national semifinals.

9. Jim McMahon's Cheap Shot

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    Charles Martin's excessively obvious late hit on '86 Bears ringleader Jim McMahon had Chicago fans steaming.

    His absence in the playoffs would result in a two-game suspension for Martin and a missed shot at defending a championship for the Bears.

8. Willis Reed's Magical Night

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    May 8, 1970, Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, first New York hardwood championship on the line. 

    But with a severe thigh injury that kept him out of Game 6 expected to be flaring, few expected star Willis Reed to approach the court for the deciding bout.

    Moments before the game, the star big man was seen perusing the court with but a loose bandage and a confident aura.

    A crippled Reed would inspire the Knicks to a routing of the Lakers and their first title.

7. Ted Ginn Jr.'s Roller-Coaster Ride

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    59 catches for 781 yards and 706 yards with two touchdowns on special teams...this speed demon was the main weapon for the 2007 Buckeyes.

    But Ohio State would get its hopes and dreams crushed at the 2007 BCS National Championship Game even after Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff for 92 yards and a touchdown.

    During the celebration, teammate Roy Hall slid into him, sat on him and sprained his left foot.

    Florida wins 41-14.

6. Magic Johnson Becomes Human

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    After finishing the 1988-89 season with 22.5 points, 12.8 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game and a second MVP award, Magic Johnson looked ready to lead his Lakers to a third consecutive title.

    A dominant road to the finals ended when Magic suffered a hamstring injury in Game 2. Tony Campbell, David Rivers and Michael Cooper weren't a match for the Bad Boy Detroit backcourt.

    Pistons sweep Lakers.

5. Kenyon Martin Breaks Stride

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    A senior year featuring 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 blocks per game and a consensus National Player of the Year honor came to a screeching halt when Kenyon Martin suffered a broken leg in the Conference USA Tournament.

    Without their ferocious forward for the NCAA Tournament, the No. 2 Cincinnati Bearcats would fall to No. 7 Tulsa in the second round, championship aspirations a distant memory. 

4. Jim Rice Can't End the Curse

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    An eight-time All-Star and former MVP, legendary outfielder Jim Rice was left to wonder what could have been in 1975.

    The Bo' Sawx would win the AL East, but lose Rice to a hit-by-pitch wrist injury that would keep him out of the League Championship Series and World Series.

    Boston would lose the World Series 4-3 to the Cincinnati Reds without him.

3. Derrick Rose Tears Chicago in Two

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    A torn ACL quickly shattered all of Chicago's championship hopes this year.

    If you're Derrick Rose, you may want to cover your eyes.

2. Dirk Nowitzki Is Finally Stopped

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    With the No. 3 seed in the 2003 NBA playoffs, the wunderkind-led Mavs finally seemed ready to end their championship drought.

    And you can bet their 7' star Dirk Nowitzki was ready for battle.

    A career-high 46 points in Game 1 against the Blazers in Round 1, 30 points and 19 rebounds in a Game 7 win over the Kings in Round 2, 38 points and 19 rebounds against the Spurs in Game 1 of the conference finals.

    Heating up was an understatement.

    But a sprained knee in Game 3 would take Dirk out of the rest of the playoffs, allowing the Spurs to naturally grab the title.

1. I'll Have Another

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    With a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, I'll Have Another hogged the Belmont Stakes headlines. 

    But a swollen left front tendon prevented him from remaining there and completing a historical journey.