Eight NBA stars who were robbed of greatness by big injuries
Livingston was 18 and full of promise when the Los Angeles Clippers drafted him No. 4 overall in 2004. Coming out of high school to the NBA, he was a dynamic, 6-foot-7 playmaker with exceptional length and athleticism.
He showed All-Star potential during his first three seasons, but a 21-year-old Livingston sustained a gruesome knee injury during his third season. There were fears of him needing amputation and never walking again, but Livingston not only regained the strength in his knee but resumed his basketball career after many years of rehab. Livingston reinvented himself after the injury, serving as a vital veteran off the bench during the Warriors' last three NBA championships.
Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway
The Warriors drafted Hardaway No. 3 overall in the 1993 NBA Draft, infamously trading him and multiple picks to the Orlando Magic for Chris Webber.
"Penny" almost immediately became a superstar. Hardaway was a playmaking machine, earning four straight All-Star appearances after his rookie season and comparisons to Magic Johnson. His legs started to deteriorate, and his game slowly followed.
Hardaway played until he was 36, but he only twice played more than 70 games after his last All-Star appearance. The rest of his career was filled with injuries and frustrating rehabilitation.
Hill was a college star for Duke before the Detroit Pistons selected him No. 3 overall in the 1994 NBA Draft. There was much hope for Hill to become a star in the league, and he immediately fulfilled those expectations -- and then some.
He won the Rookie of the Year award and went to six All-Star Games in his first seven seasons. The 6-foot-8 small forward did everything on the court, playing as a pseudo "point forward" type who could score, rebound and set up teammates. Hill averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game in his first six seasons.
Sadly, Hill was never the same after breaking his ankle during his seventh NBA season. He still had some solid years, playing until he was 40 in what became a Hall of Fame career. And yet, many still wonder what could have been.
Roy became a household name not long after the Portland Trail Blazers drafted him No. 6 overall in 2006, winning the Rookie of the Year award before making three straight All-Star games after that.
With a strong 6-foot-6 frame, Roy was the quintessential all-around shooting guard. He could shoot efficiently and make plays, and he was on his way to becoming one of the premier players in the NBA before a degenerative knee condition ruined his ability to perform at the highest level. Roy retired after five NBA seasons.
The Seattle native attempted a comeback in 2012, signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. But Roy played just five games with the T-Wolves, and his career was over for good afterward.
There is always a good deal of pressure for being the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, but Rose delivered from the start. He won Rookie of the Year, an MVP and made three All-Star appearances in his first four seasons with the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were on a trajectory to be an Eastern Conference powerhouse, but a torn ACL brought all those hopes crashing down.
His rehabilitation became a much-publicized debacle, with constant injury bumps in the road that drew unfair fan criticism towards Rose regarding his effort and toughness. Rose has slowly re-established himself as a scoring spark plug off the bench since leaving the Bulls, averaging at least 18 points per game in each of the last two seasons as a bench player. He no longer is as explosive as he was in Chicago, but Rose nonetheless has revitalized his career.
Speaking of pressure and top picks, Oden dealt with extraordinary expectations after being selected before Kevin Durant in 2007.
Oden was a monster at Ohio State, looking like a grown man playing against children. The Blazers were looking for a center to solidify their team alongside Roy. While Roy had a few impressive seasons before serious health conditions, Oden's career never even had the chance to fully start.
He missed his rookie season with knee issues and then eventually played just 82 games in two injury-filled seasons with Portland. Oden didn't play at all over the next three seasons, appearing in just 23 games during an unsuccessful NBA comeback with the Miami Heat in 2013-14.
Most younger fans know Williams as the current NBA analyst with some controversial takes, but he was once a superstar college basketball player at Duke that was selected second overall in the 2002 NBA Draft.
Williams' rookie season had growing pains, but his promise was undeniable and he seemingly was destined for a prolific career. But Williams never reached those heights, sustaining such severe leg injuries in a motorcycle accident that he was unable to play in another NBA game.
Bosh gave the Toronto Raptors exactly what they were hoping for when he was picked fourth in the historically loaded 2003 NBA Draft. He was the perfect big man for the modern game, able to stretch the floor while also maintaining an inside presence. Bosh also was an underrated defender, protecting the rim while being able to capably switch out to smaller opponents and hold his own.
Many will remember him as the third member of the Big Three in Miami, as sort of the unsung hero behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. However, as an 11-time All-Star with two rings, Bosh has a Hall of Fame résumé.
And yet, we all are left wondering what else Bosh could have accomplished if not for a blood-clotting condition that prematurely ended his career. Had Bosh continued to play at such a high level for another handful of years, he would have been in the discussion for one of the best power forwards of all time. It;s reasonable to think he should be regardless.