The Oklahoma City Thunder has been plagued with injuries. Will they recover or will they become one of these NBA teams that never did?
The year's unluckiest NBA squad, the Oklahoma City Thunder, once again falls prey to the Great Injury Bug of 2014 as their promising forward, Perry Jones III, injures his right knee in a game against the Toronto Raptors earlier today:
The Thunder, prior to this rash of health issues, were a legit contender. Then superstar Kevin Durant hurt his foot just before the season began, Russell Westbrook broke his hand, and myriad injuries to rotation players Jeremy Lamb and Anthony Morrow deflated what would have otherwise been a championship-ready season.
It's very early into the new NBA year, and the team could just as easily turn around a nightmarish start into a fairytale ending. On the flip side however, they could very well end up like one of the teams below who could've contended for the Larry O'Brien trophy if not for broken bones here and there. With KD being such a good guy though, may his team avoid being included on this unfortunate list in the future...
1) 2003 SACRAMENTO KINGS
In 1998, the Sacramento Kings landed star forward, Chris Webber. Thus began a memorable stretch for the franchise that saw Chris become an MVP contender with averages of 27 ppg, 11 rpg and 4 apg, while leading the team to within a game of reaching the NBA Finals in 2002. They were beaten in the seventh and deciding game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The year after, the Kings were poised once again to challenge for the crown, angry that they let an opportunity slip. Fate intervened though as Webber was lost to a career-changing ACL injury in the Western Conference semis, marking the end of a fun era in Sacramento.
Video via Lifelong9er Fan78
2) '90s ORLANDO MAGIC
In the early '90s, Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway teamed up to form a promising Orlando team that peaked when they beat a Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls on the way to reaching the Finals in 1995.
For a team that had such a bright future, the Magic would eventually be undone by Shaq's transfer to the Lakers in the 1996-1997 season and Hardaway, then a perennial MVP candidate, tearing his ACL in the 1997-1998 season. What was a thunderous tandem came to a screeching halt—and so did the team's destiny.
Video via PAT55103
3) MID-2000s PHOENIX SUNS
The Phoenix Suns got lucky in the 2004-2005 preseason, snatching Steve Nash from the Dallas Mavericks through free agency. Nash became an instant superstar, leading his team to a 33-game turnaround from the previous season while winning an MVP trophy—his first of two with the Suns.
Unfortunately, they just couldn't win it all, no thanks to injuries to key cogs at inopportune times.
In the 2005 Western Conference Finals, they lost Joe Johnson in the first two games against the San Antonio Spurs. In the 2006 Western Conference Finals, they didn't have star forward Amare Stoudemire, who underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee.
In the 2007 Western semis, Nash slammed face-first into the Spurs' Tony Parker, resulting in a nose injury that kept him out of crucial stretches in Game 1. Nash almost got injured again in Game 4 after being sent flying to the sidelines by a Robert Horry hip check. Although the playmaker managed to brush off the hit, the resulting skirmish cost the team a one-game suspension on both Stoudemire and Boris Diaw. The Suns lost the series 4-2 and have since been unable to either get past the first round of (or even qualify for) the Playoffs.
Video via PAT55103
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