March Madness: The Worst Basketball Injuries of All Time

Any sport can cause injuries, and many of them need to be treated quickly. With March Madness in full swing, let’s take a look back at some of the worst basketball injuries in the history of the game, the sciencec behind them, and the treatment that they required.

The Worst Basketball Injuries of All Time

There is a reason that there are constantly medical personnel at sports games. Any amount of contact leaves a great risk for injury, and someone has to treat those that come up. The injuries range in severity. Often, a player will walk off of the field or court with scrapes or bruises that will be gone by the next game. Othertimes, a player must be carried back to the lockerroom. Whatever it is, these injuries need to be examined.

Not all sports are made equally. Football, for example, is particularly brutal. The high contact environment is a breeding ground for tears, contussions, and concussions. As we discussed before, not a single team of the 32 in the NFL ended the 2017-2018 season without an injured player. Tennis, on the other hand, is incredibly safe. The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury reported just over 140,000 injuries caused by tennis in 25 years. Not as dangerous as football, basketball surely isn’t as safe as tennis.

Joel Przybilla’s Ruptured Patellar Tendon

Playing against the Dallas Mavericks in December of 2009, long-time pro Joel Przybilla suffered an unfortunate fate. You can find the video here; it’s one of the least gruesome on the list. The injury is practically invisible — the only true indication of it is the way Joel himself reacts. His knee doesn’t bend or snap, but it’s clearly an awkward landing. That night, many fans assumed he had suffered a simple sprained ankle. From the outside, this was reasonable. However, the truth of the matter is much  more severe.

The injury that actually brought down the giant center was a ruptured patellar tendon, and a dislocated patella. The patella, otherwise known as the kneecap, is vital to protecting the knee. The patellar tendon works in conjuction with the patella to provide mobility to the knee. When ruptured, the patellar tendon loses functionality completely. Without it, Przybilla was rendered unable to straighten his knee. Whether the rupture was a direct result of the jump or not is unknown. The most common form of patellar tendon rupture is as a result of tendonitis, also known as “jumper’s knee.” In this case, the tendon is most likely to have torn down the middle, making repair even more difficult.

A patellar tendon rupture must be treated surgically, and braced or covered with cast immediately after surgery. The knee must then be rested for 6 months, and requires rehabilitation for an unknown period of time. A frightening case, this is certainly one of the worst basketball injuries of all time.

Allan Ray’s Eye Problems

From a viewer’s perspective, this might just be the worst basketball injury of all time. You can view it here, but it certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Playing for the Villanova Wildcats, Allan Ray caught the eye of many media outlets when another player caught his. A player on the other time swiped, innocently, at the ball Ray was holding, raking his eye. The eye was popped out of socket, visibly bulging from Ray’s head. Broadcast on live TV and replayed for quite some time, the injury garnered some fame.

For Ray, the injury was much better than it looked. While his eye did appear to come out of the socket, this effect was caused by his eyelid being thrown back. The sudden exposure to light and stress from the other player’s hand did cause some damage. Luckily, it wasn’t severe. Ray suffered a temporary loss of eyesight, and soft tissue damage to the eye. However, he was able to return to the game in the following week, leading Villanova for points in that year’s finals.

Marquis Daniel’s Back Breaking Injury

Playing for the Boston Celtics, Marquis Daniels had been having a good Sunday. He began it by tweeting out a simple seven characters: “#prayer.” Later in the day, he would be on the other end of the praying. In a game against the Orlando Magic, Marquis collided with one of their guards. Falling to the ground, everyone assumed that Daniels was okay, and a foul was called.  When the next play began, Daniels remained on the floor. It then became evident that something had gone wrong, and the arena fell silent. Daniels was stretchered out only a few minutes later. One of the worst basketball injuries in recent memory, you can relive the moment here. Even today, the suddennes of the injury is breathtaking.

Daniels suffered a bruised spine, which is exactly as bad as it sounds. Marquis was able to give fans a quick thumbs up while being stretchered away, but would lose feelings in his arms and legs shortly after. The spinal cord being the center of the nervous system can have many unwanted side effects, such as loss of feeling when the spine is injured. Luckily for Marquis, he regained feeling while in the hospital, and recovered fully from the injury.

Basketball injuries can be difficult, even for the viewers. It’s tough to watch someone, even someone on the opposing team, become scarred. Hopefully, we will see more March Madness and less March medicine this year.

Rapid Med Team
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