Injured Superstars Overshadow Thrilling NBA Season

The NBA season is nearing 20 games left in the regular season. While the league has seen young players such as Steph Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook rise to superstar status, the NBA has also watched some of the game’s elite players fall to injury. Among this list is 2014 MVP Kevin Durant, 2011 MVP Derrick Rose, New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony and New Orleans’ budding star Anthony Davis. While only Carmelo Anthony is out for the remainder of the season, these superstars are certainly missed by their respective teams as the playoffs are just around the corner.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant was diagnosed with a right foot fracture in October of 2014 near the start of the season which caused him to miss the team’s first 17 games. After returning for only about two weeks, Durant injured his ankle in the second quarter of a 109-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on December 18.  Durant had 30 points in only 18 minutes of play in this game and he went on to miss six more games. 

Durant also missed time in late January and early February for a sprained big toe and is currently out after undergoing minor surgery to help reduce discomfort in his previously repaired right foot. There is no timetable for his return and the Thunder are 33-27 despite the injuries to Durant.  This is largely because of the fantastic play of emerging MVP candidate Russell Westbrook.

Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL in his left knee in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA playoffs and was forced to miss all of the following season. Rose returned in the 2013-2014 NBA season looking like his former MVP self but on November 22 of 2013, Rose tore his meniscus in his right knee forcing him to miss the rest of the season. This season, Rose appeared in 46 games, looking tentative at times but extremely explosive at others. The Bulls looked like like one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference until it was revealed on February 24 that Rose would require surgery on his meniscus in his right knee for a second time with the possibility of returning for the playoffs. The Bulls’ championship hopes were further crushed when 2015 MVP candidate Jimmy Butler was ruled out for three to six weeks with an elbow sprain. The Chicago Bulls are in trouble down the stretch.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony re-signed with the team with a five year, $124 million contract this past offseason. Anthony and the Knicks have had an extremely disappointing 2014-2015 season as they are just 12-46 in head coach Derek Fisher’s first year. Anthony was voted a starter for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game this year where he played 30 minutes and scored ten points. 

The Knicks announced that Anthony will be ruled out for the remainder of the season as he underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery on February 18. Anthony has complained of knee pains since the second game of this season and was diagnosed with a partially torn patellar tendon, a fairly common injury for basketball players of Anthony’s age. The New York Knicks will continue to struggle without their superstar on the court.

New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis hit the game-winning shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 6 while adding 41 points and ten rebounds in the outstanding effort. That performance marked his 13th straight game with at least 20 points, surpassing Pete Maravich of the 1976-1977 New Orleans Jazz for the New Orleans franchise record. The following day, only a week before the NBA All-Star weekend, Davis fell from the rim while going up for an alley-oop and injured his shoulder in the process. Davis was replaced in the All-Star Game starting lineup by LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Pelicans are 32-27 this season and sit just .5 games out of eighth place in the extremely competitive Western Conference. 

“He’s strengthening his shoulder and doing a lot of ice and stim…He’s working around the clock. He’s feeling better every day, I’m sure. We thought we were close, but we just don’t want to put a timetable on him, because that puts pressure on guys, when you start telling them when they should be back. We know AD and where his heart is. If he can play, he’ll be the first to tell us,” Head coach Monty Williams said Monday. Look for Davis to return soon for a late season playoff push.

The 2014-2015 NBA season may be remembered for who was not on the court. These four players are superstars, All-Stars, MVP candidates and game changers year-in and year-out. Their respective teams are feeling the pressure of having to replace them every single night. If Durant, Rose and Davis can return this season, look for their teams to make great strides at a run to the NBA playoffs.