In the span of eight months, the NBA lost three of its best guards to knee or leg injuries.
On April 12, Kobe Bryant was the first to go down when he tore his left Achilles tendon late in the fourth quarter of a 118-116 win over the Golden State Warriors. Months later, he said that he "was literally trying to pull the tendon up so hopefully [he] could walk and kind of hobble through the last two and a half minutes and try to play," per comments recorded by Nike PR director Heidi Burgett.
Bryant returned to NBA action on Dec. 8, but lasted only six games before calamity struck again. During a 96-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 17, the Mamba suffered a fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee, sidelining him for six weeks.
Only two weeks after Kobe tore his Achilles, the Western Conference lost another one of its top guards to a freak leg injury. During the second game of the opening-round playoff series between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, Patrick Beverley crashed into Russell Westbrook's right knee when going for a steal and tore Westbrook's lateral meniscus.
The OKC point guard underwent an additional surgery on that same knee in early October and was projected to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the 2013-14 season as a result. He instead sat out only two games before returning, but experienced swelling in late December and had to go under the knife yet again. He's not expected back until after the All-Star break.
When looking back on injuries in 2013, nothing will define this year more than the twists and turns in the Derrick Rose saga. We spent months speculating about when he'd return from ACL surgery, only to learn that he'd end up missing the entirety of the 2012-13 season.
Rose finally made his long-awaited return against the Miami Heat on the opening night of the 2013-14 season, but things soon went awry once more. While making a routine play against the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 22, Rose tore his right medial meniscus, knocking him out for the remainder of the year.
Beyond Westbrook, Bryant and Rose, a few other superstar guards also battled their own injury problems this year. Rajon Rondo tore his ACL in late January and isn't expected to return until late January 2014 at the earliest, while Dwyane Wade's knees limited his effectiveness throughout the playoffs.
If there's one negative thing we'll remember from 2013, it's the plethora of superstar guards who sustained severe lower-body injuries. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for all.