While it's the case with all of us, it's especially true of professional athletes—they are living on borrowed time. Each of their careers comes with the caveat, "as long as they stay healthy." Perhaps no one knows this better than Greg Oden.
As part of the Portland Trail Blazers' continuing bid to replace Hall of Fame big man Bill Walton, Oden was selected with the first overall pick in the 2007 draft.
Sadly, he ended up reminding Blazers fans less of Walton, and more of the wasted pick the team used to draft Sam Bowie ahead of Michael Jordan in 1984 (although Bowie actually had a fairly productive 10-year career in which he averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks).
Oden underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in September 2007 and missed the entirety of what should have been his rookie season. He came back to play 82 games over the next two years, but his knees continued to betray him, and he has not played in an NBA game since December 2009.
Unfortunately, the case of Greg Oden is not an isolated instance. Many promising NBA players have had their careers either cut short or rendered mediocre due to injury. And some could have vaulted themselves onto the list of the greatest players of all time were it not for injuries stifling their longevity.
In fact, there have been so many potentially great players derailed by injury over the years that I must limit the scope of this list. We will confine our survey to players drafted after 1990. So there will be no Ralph Sampson and no "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison (who quickly became known as "Out of Service" Pervis).
What follows is a melancholy list of 10 players—ranked in order of their tragedy factor—who make us wonder what might have been.