Friday, March 2, 2007

Bill Walton Hall of Fame

Monday night Shaun Livingston, a promising, athletic guard for the L.A. Clippers, drove to the basket and suddenly collapsed in pain. Replays show that his knee actually popped loose. That's right. He dislocated his knee. My first reaction to this replay was one of over whelming revulsion. This ranks with Joe Theisman's broken leg, that hockey goalie that had his jugular cut during a game by a skate blade, and Drew Brees' dislocated elbow for replays I don't ever want to see again. If they show this on SportsCenter (and they will) look away or close your eyes. My own knee throbbed after seeing this. And I'm no wuss.

After the shock wore off, my next reaction was 'You can dislocate your knee?' Not only can you, but Livingston has done it before. He missed 39 games his rookie year because he dislocated his right knee. Maybe his afro is too heavy. Could be adding an extra 5 pounds of stress onto his frame.

An MRI on Tuesday revealed the following injuries to Livingston's left knee: 'tears in the anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and lateral meniscus. He also dislocated his patella, besides the previously diagnosed dislocation of his tibia-femoral.' Basically, the poor guy needs a bionic knee to get full functionality again. Safe to say his career might be over or at the very least on hold for a few years.

What this also does is add Livingston into the Bill Walton Hall of Fame. Walton was one of the best centers of all time for UCLA, the Portland Trailblazers, San Diego Clippers (yeah, same team) and in the latter stages of his career, the Boston Celtics. Trouble is, Walton was not-so-proud owner of a pair of feet one doctor called 'a cruel joke'. He broke his feet so often it took years off his career. With Portland and SD, he missed multiple SEASONS due to his foot issues. His greatness was hampered and limited by his freak injuries.

Here is my current list of players who's promising careers have either been hampered or cut short by freak or recurring injuries. It's named after Walton since he is the most notable member.

Bill Walton
Bo Jackson - one of the most dynamic athletes in football and baseball until hip injury cut things short. He could have been a Hall of Famer in both sports had he stayed healthy.
Penny Hardaway - people forget how explosive he was before his knee troubles
Kevin McHale - shell of former self after 1987 foot stress fracture
Shaun Livingston - Hopefully we can take him off this list in a few years, but I'm not optimistic.
Danny Manning - when healthy he was one of the best all around forwards in the game. Yes, he was drafted and played for the Clippers, too. Sensing a trend?
Bernard King - one of the most explosive scorers I've ever seen. That includes Jordan. Absolutely unstoppable for about 5 years before knee injuries.
Jim McMahon - QB for 1985 Bears battled a variety of injuries after the Super Bowl victory spending more time on the sidelines than on the field. Far as I know he didn't play for the Clippers.
Jamal Anderson - Bruising Atlanta running back who was never the same after torn ACL.
Sam Bowie - No, I'm not kidding. I realize he's a running joke because Portland picked him over Jordan and Hakeem, but he was very good until his legs started breaking. You can add the video of him lying on the court with his tibia obviously snapped in half to the list of things I will never get out of my head. (Note - for whatever reason I had this originally listed as Pervis Ellison. Brain fart I have since corrected.)
Len Bias - Yeah, I know, not an injury, but if you never saw him play in college you have no idea what we missed watching him play in the NBA for 10-13 years. Picture a 6'9 Michael Jordan with the wingspan of a 7 footer. He was cat quick and could jump out of the gym. See if Youtube has some highlights of Bias and watch it. There is one current player in college right now that's reminding me a little of Bias: Kevin Durant. Bias was more athletic, but Durant has better range. Would the cosmos be correcting itself if the Celtics get Durant?
Reggie Lewis - Add this to the one above and you can see why the Celtics are where they are. Bird would have passed the mantle to Bias, Bias to Lewis, Lewis to Pierce. Instead we have Pierce and company trying to clean up the wreckage of the past 20 years.

I'm sure I've missed some, so feel free to offer suggestions. I was considering adding Larry Bird due to his bone spur and back woes, but his career was productive enough before those things started happening. I even considered Michael Jordan's gambling problems, but I couldn't get anyone to admit his baseball career was a covert 18 month suspension for betting on his own team.

Today's distraction: Participate in a home run derby. This used to be one of my go-to time killers. Still enjoyable, especially when you set off a car alarm in the parking lot.


French said...

Robert Edwards, David Pollack (although he may return), me, Hank for gruesome injuries, do you recall when Tim Krumrie, the Bengal's lineman, broke his leg in SB XXIII? THAT WAS FUCKING GROSS, dude. I think the video is on YouTube.

BeachBum said...

Robert Edwards! Good call! I forgot about him. Didn't he attempt a comeback with the Dolphins at one point? Didn't last too long, either.