NBA History: 5 Injuries that changed the NBA forever
Like with all major sports, injuries play a prominent role in the NBA. However, due to smaller roster sizes and the impact made by the game's best players, injuries in the NBA can be especially destructive.
While every team must deal with injuries throughout the course of the season, there have been several instances in NBA history where a team has not been able to recover from a significant setback to one of their biggest stars.
Additionally, plenty will argue that an injury at the wrong moment cost their team a shot at a title. So, with plenty to chose from, here are our top five picks for five injuries that changed the landscape of the NBA.
#5 Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder (2013)
The Oklahoma City Thunder reached the NBA Finals for the first time in 2012, and despite losing to the Miami Heat, they entered the following postseason with immense confidence. OKC entered the 2013 playoffs seeded first thanks to a 60-22 regular-season record, and Russell Westbrook looked to be in the form of his career as he recorded a near triple-double in Game 1 of the first round against the Houston Rockets.
However, the point guard tore the meniscus in his right knee after a now-infamous collision with Patrick Beverley, and the Thunder were eliminated in the second round by the Memphis Grizzlies. The injury also had lasting implications, as Westbrook was still not at 100% when the 2014 Western Conference Finals rolled around, and the Thunder fell in six games to the San Antonio Spurs.
The Thunder came close again in 2016, although it was clear by that point that their opportunity had been snatched away by injuries. Kevin Durant took his talents to Golden State later that summer, while Westbrook eventually left Oklahoma City without a title.