Every team in sports always has that talented player who if he or she could just stay healthy would surely become a superstar. The Rockets just lost Tracy McGrady to season ending microfracture knee surgery and Greg Oden has already missed a year and a half only two years into his career. To comfort fans of the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers, here are the stories of two players who not only ruined their careers due to unfortunate injuries, but also the hopes of a franchise.
Pervis Ellison earned the nickname “Never Nervous Pervis” after leading the University of Louisville to an NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball national title as only a freshman, earning the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament. After a storied career at Louisville the Sacramento Kings took Pervis with the first pick of the 1989 draft. Pervis missed two-thirds of his rookie and earned the nickname “Out of Service Pervis” and was unceremoniously traded to the then Washington Bullets for Jeff Malone. After 3 season Pervis would suffer serious knee injuries, dashing the hopes of a young Bullets team with talent such as Harvey Grant and Tom Gugliotta. Boston would sign Pervis as a free agent in 1993, but his tenure with the Celtics would be fraught with knee injuries and bizarre accidents like breaking his toe after trying to pick up a table. Pervis would retire in 2001 after playing nine games with the Supersonics as possibly the most injury prone player the NBA has ever seen. Over a career of 10 plus years Pervis missed an average of just under half a season.
When Grant Hill signed a max contract with the Orlando Magic in 2000 Magic fans thought he and Tracy McGrady would start an NBA dynasty in Florida. During the mid-1990s Grant Hill was the predecessor to the athletic smalls forwards of today like Kevin Durant and Lebron James. However, a ankle injury shortly before the 2000 playoffs should have kept Hill on the sidelines, but fans criticized Hill as soft and Grant played the series, losing it 3-0. Grant’s ankle would persistently bother him over the next few months and he would endure season ending surgeries for the next six years, save for the 2004-2005 when he play 67 games, averaged 20 points a game and participated in the All Star Game. At the end of Hill’s contract in 2007 he would sign with the Phoenix Suns for one last shot at a championship run. Over the course of his 7 year, $100 million dollar contract Hill would play barely two seasons worth of games and garner a stigma as the NBA’s most injured player.
So to all you Houston Rockets and Portland fans, be glad that Tracy McGrady is at the end of his contract and Portland has buckets of young, awesome talent. Greg Oden in all likelihood will turn out to be another supremely talented but injury prone player in the vein of Same Bowie and Pervis Ellison, but luckily Portland’s future does not depend on Oden’s success.