NBA basketball is a popular sport that people from all over the world pay lots to see in person. It might surprise you to learn just how badly players could get injured during serious head injuries occurring on a few occasions. In this article, we’ll list three of the most shocking ones to ever take place.
Suffering from a head injury can be catastrophic as it has the potential to leave an individual with life-changing problems. In some cases, they can be fatal. The head is a very sensitive part of the body and, because of this, can be dealt serious damage.
The NBA, as well as other professional sporting leagues, are notorious for head injuries. Making a head injury claim is a solution sportspeople could look to in order to receive compensation to assist with recovery. It can also help fund any adaptations they may need to make their lives easier.
NBA teams usually take care of players who have suffered concussions or worse injuries to the head but non-professionals aren’t as fortunate in such regard.
That said, below are the three players who have suffered the most serious head injuries in the history of the league.
1. Maurice Stokes
The injury former Cincinnati/Rochester Royals player Maurice Stokes sustained in 1958 might just be one of the most tragic incidents in NBA history. It was, unfortunately, an injury that ended his career and his life as he knew it.
During a match, Stokes drove to the basket, drew contact, and crashed to the floor, smacking his head against the hardwood in the process. The blow left him unconscious.
Stoke’s injury didn’t come across as severe initially and he was able to play the remainder of the match after regaining consciousness. But, three days later, after a match against the Detroit Pistons, he became unwell on the team’s flight home and suffered a seizure that left him permanently paralyzed. Stoke’s spent weeks in a coma and was diagnosed with post-traumatic encephalopathy.
His condition left him unable to move or even speak – a return to the court was certainly out of the question. The real tragedy came 12 years later, however, when Stoke’s suffered a heart attack on April 6, 1970, and sadly died.
2. Joe Johnson
During a game between the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks in 2005, with 19.7 seconds left on the clock for the first half, Joe Johnson hit the floor face first following a foul from Jerry Stackhouse. This led to Johnson suffering a displaced fracture of his left orbital bone, better known as the eye socket – ouch!
Despite the fall that left him covered in blood and visibly shaken for a few minutes, Johnson surprisingly got up and proceeded to take his free throws, although it was clear to everyone watching that something was not quite right.
Once transported to a hospital, it was found that Johnson had a mild concussion, a left orbital bone fracture, plus other injuries. He underwent surgery to repair the fracture.
Johnson didn’t return to the Phoenix Suns once he recovered from his injuries, instead of signing with the Atlanta Hawks.
3. Rudy Tomjanovich
On December 9, 1977, during a game between Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, Rudy Tomjanovich received a punch that very nearly killed him. This occurred during a brawl that broke out between his teammates, Kevin Kunnert and Kermit Washington.
Although the head injury didn’t happen during actual gameplay, we still consider it an NBA head injury and had to include it, especially because of how famous the punch is even 45 years on due to the sheer damage it caused poor Rudy.
The punch sent him sprawling, causing his head to bounce against the floor. Tomjanovich suffered a fractured skull, broken jaw, broken nose, other facial injuries, and most concerningly, spinal fluid leakage.
Washington received a $10,000 fine for his actions that night. Despite original fears that Tomjanovich wouldn’t survive the injuries he sustained, he was fortunate enough to make a full recovery. To many people’s surprise, he managed to play for a further three NBA seasons until his retirement in 1981.
Head Injuries Aren’t the Only Ones NBA Players Have Experienced
Who would’ve known that basketball could be such a dangerous sport? The aforementioned suffered traumatic injuries, some of whom were fortunate enough to recover fully. Unfortunately for Stokes, his injury was a tragedy the NBA community has never forgotten about.
While there haven’t been many head injuries in NBA history, you’d be surprised to learn the sheer volume of other injuries that NBA players have experienced over the years, with many of the most serious ones being injuries to legs and, more specifically knees
Which NBA injury has shocked you the most? Let us know in the comment box below.