￼The reigning MVP is out. We still don’t know the extent of his injury, but it seems certain that he will miss the remainder of the first round (at the very least). Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are out for the rest of the postseason. Hear that? That’s the sound of a thousand Clipper fans crying.
Injuries definitely change the championship picture. We take a look back at some injuries that derailed some championship aspirations.
SAM CASSELL (2004)
This was the strongest Timberwolves team ever. You had KG at his peak, and he was flanked by Spree, Cassell, and Wally. They made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals only to be beaten by The Los Angeles Lakers. Now it could be said that the Lakers would have handled the T-Wolves regardless, but Cassell was putting up some crazy numbers.
In Fame 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, he hit a big shot to eliminate The Kings. He then went on to celebrate by doing his infamous big balls dance. While showing off his large cojones, he injured his hip. Great work, Sam.
This injury would prove costly and the T-Wolves would only last five games due to their depleted line-up.
DIRK NOWITZKI (2003)
This was Peak Dirk. He averaged 21 points for the season, but stepped that up in the Playoffs. He went off for a career-high 46 points against the Blazers in the first round. In the second round, Dirk handled the Kings. The German had 30 points and 19 rebounds to carry the Mavs all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
His heroics would continue in the WCF before a terrible injury in Game 3 made him sit out the rest of the playoffs. The Spurs would go on to win the title.
DERRICK ROSE (2011)
I’m sure this moment runs through Tom Thibodeau’s mind everyday. The Bulls held a 12-point lead over the 76ers with just about a minute left in the game. Instead of pulling Rose from the game, however, Tom kept him in. The MVP would go down awkwardly on his left knee after driving in for a lay up. He would not return.
The Bulls went on to lose to the 76ers, 4-2. This was so heartbreaking for Bulls fans because it seemed like their year to finally win another championship.
ISIAH THOMAS (1988)
The stage was set for the face-off that everyone was clamoring for: Magic vs. Isiah. Lakers vs Pistons. In the Finals.
During the sixth game of the series, with about four minutes to go in the third quarter, Thomas sprained his ankle after landing on Michael Cooper’s foot. The injury was so severe that he had to be helped off the court.
Despite the terrible injury, Thomas came back to pull off one of the best playoff moments in NBA history. He set an NBA Finals record for points in a single quarter. The Pistons fought valiantly, but still lost the game.
Thomas would play in Game 7, but was obviously hobbled. The Lakers would go on to win the 1988 championship, leading many Detroit fans wondering: What if we had a healthy IT for
MAGIC JOHNSON (1989)
The Lakers were primed and ready to win their third straight championship when tragedy struck in Game 2 of the finals. While running back to play defense, Magic injured his hamstring, leaving the purple and gold in the hands of Tony Campbell, David Rivers and Michael Cooper.
The Pistons went on the sweep the Lakers.