There’s a multitude of ways an NBA player’s career can end: Injuries, not being picked up as free agent, being forced overseas, or just succumbing to age. None of those, frankly, are as embarrassing or happen nearly as quickly as having your career ruined and nearly ended through a photo. While yes, this list does include some injuries, the majority are players being crossed, dunked on, or straight up humiliated – all in a single photo. When making this list, some players, such as the legendary Brandon Knight, were included twice, and while he is still chilling on various NBA benches, it’s safe to say his NBA career got ruined as the plays included made him a living NBA meme.
Some of the players included on this list, such as Derrick Rose, didn’t exactly have their career ruined, however the picture included significantly impacted the path of their career. Some players on this list literally fell and were not able to come back from it, and were out of the league a short amount of time after the moment took place. Either way, it’s safe to say that the moments included in these pictures affected every player on this list, and that some of the players included could’ve had superstar level, even Hall of Fame worthy, careers.
15. LeBron James’ Dunk On Jason Terry
LeBron absolutely destroyed Jason Terry on this dunk. The Miami Heat were on a fast break and Norris Cole threw an alley-oop up to LeBron. Jason Terry went up for it, not knowing his impending doom, and LBJ went up and obliterated him. LeBron followed the thunderous dunk with a vicious staredown on Terry, and the Jet stayed on the ground for a few to realize what just happened to him. Luckily, Jason Terry is still alive following the play, but this play is what made most teams around the league come to the realization that Terry is just an old veteran at this point, and not going to be a key piece to a championship team like he was to the Mavericks a few years prior.
14. Yao Ming Injury
What could’ve been one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, Yao Ming’s career fell plenty short of what it could’ve been. A 7-foot-6 Center with post skills, defense, and a jump shot, Yao Ming was a center that possibly came before his time. Unfortunately, Yao Ming didn’t have the longevity of a typical player, and had a very short prime due to injuries. While he did still make some All-Star appearances and did make the Basketball Hall of Fame, Ming could’ve accomplished so much more, such as a championship and MVP trophy, if he didn’t fall to injuries.
13. Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson
Unlike James Harden, who prior to Tristan Thompson, was Khloe’s boyfriend, Thompson decided to stick around with Khloe. Tristan Thompson started dating Khloe a few months following the Cavalier’s NBA championship, and it is no secret that Thompson’s production a role with the team have dropped significantly. Thompson went from being a consistent starter and solid center to an overrated center on a horrible contract, all since Khloe came along. Thompson will go down in the history books as another player that fell victim to the dreaded “Kardashian” curse.
12. Keon Clark in a Prison Jumpsuit
Keon Clark was a solid backup Big Man for both the Nuggets and Raptors, but he will not be remembered by fans for his work on the court, but rather, for what he did off the court. Keon had been retired for nearly 10 years when he was arrested. Clark was guilty for weapons and driving under the influence, pleading guilty to both. It is a shame for Clark, as he did have a solid career, but since he did not have a remarkable career, prison will always be associated with him. Keon was sentenced to 8 years and will get out in the year 2021.
11. Brandon Knight Crossed by Kyrie Irving
Brandon Knight, one of today’s NBA walking memes, has plenty of embarrassing moments in his career. He’s been annihilated by alley-oops, crossed over more than once, and missed multiple game winners, however, him being crossed by Kyrie Irving in the Rising Stars Game ranks up there as one of the worst in his career. Not only was this a game where Brandon was being watched by plenty due to it being All-Star weekend, but Knight got crossed in a game that is supposed to be a non-serious game for the young guys. Yikes. Knight will have the mental image of Kyrie showing him the “hush” gesture for the rest of his life.
10. Delonte West in a Hospital Robe
Delonte West is one of the sadder NBA stories. A first round pick that was supposed to be one of LeBron’s star teammates, Delonte West just didn’t pan out. Various rumors surrounded West during his career, and this image started showing up online in February of 2016. West was wandering around outside in a flannel with a hospital gown on top of it. A fan saw him and took pictures with him. West is one of the more unfortunate NBA careers, and NBA fans will remember him for the rumors and stories associated with him, not his talent.
9. Blake Griffin Dunks on Timofey Mozgov
Shortly into his NBA career, Blake Griffin made it clear that he will dunk on anyone and everyone, without caution. A few games into his first “official” season, Griffin recorded possibly the best dunk of his career on Mozgov. Not only did Mozgov not even get a chance to defend the rim, but he also got a face full of Blake’s, uh, “area”. Mozgov has been remembered as the guy that got dunked on by Blake Griffin for a few seasons now, and although he did find success with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mozgov and NBA fans will never forgot this dunk.
8. Allen Iverson Steps Over Ty Lue
In of the most disrespectful acts of NBA history, Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue is nearly every NBA fan’s favorite. In the NBA Finals, Allen Iverson crossed over Ty Lue and hit a jumper right in his face, and as it went in, the Answer looked down, took a vicious stomp over Tyronn Lue, and left him in the dust. Tyronn Lue then became the guy that got remembered as the guy who got stepped over in the Finals, and NBA Fans still make memes about it to this day. Lue, head coach of the Cavaliers, still has to hear about it from heckling fans, and it is unlikely that he will every live this down as long as his NBA coaching career lasts.
7. Derrick Rose ACL Injury
This one hurts to look at. A player who was going to be the next face of his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls, and lead them to a decade of success and NBA Championships has fallen off a cliff since his ACL injuries. Derrick Rose as looking to be a multiple time MVP while still being below the age of 25, however his injuries problems have prevented him significantly. D-Rose would play a few more seasons with the Bulls before being traded to the New York Knicks, who he also did not fit in well with. He then would play for the Cavaliers at a backup PG role however he is not receiving playing time and is simply not effective on the court. Rose still has time to turn it around, and it is rather unfortunate how his career has gone.
6. Lamar Odom’s Struggles With Substance Abuse
After a long and successful career featuring multiple championships and a sixth man of the year award, Lamar Odom fell into a coma due to drug overdose in October of 2015. Some thought that Odom would pass away, but thankfully, he was able to overcome the coma and live. At the time, he was married to Khloe Kardashian, so it’s possible this may be another case of the the “Kardashian” curse. Odom and Khloe broke up shortly after and Odom will unfortunately be remembered by casual fans not as much as a player, but as they guy who dated a Kardashian and fell into a drug induced coma.
5. Javaris Crittenton in Court
Javaris Crittenton was an NBA player for the Grizzlies, Lakers, and Wizards before leaving the league for China and then coming back for the D-League, however shortly after he was accused of murder. Crittenton was charged with murder in 2011 and pleaded guilty, resulting in a 23 year sentence. Crittenton could’ve came back from the rocky start to his career and possibly became a solid NBA player, but since he was charged of murder for 23 years, any comeback to the NBA is out the window.
4. Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries were possibly the quickest celebrity marriage of all-time. Lasting a staggering 72 days, Kris and Kim broke it off after just over 2 months of being married. Kris Humphries was on the path to being a solid NBA starter and have a very consistent NBA career, but he is simply another case of the “Kardashian” curse which limited him significantly. Nowadays, Kris is a free agent, having last played for the Atlanta Hawks. In his prime, he averaged a double-double, but Kris recently averaged less than 5 points per game while only playing 12 minutes a night.
3. Shawn Kemp’s Dunk on Alton Lister
Shawn Kemp achieved the best dunk of his NBA career and a top 10 dunk in the history of the NBA when he dunked on Alton Lister. Kemp received the ball at the 3-point line and took a dribble to the paint and went up for the dunk. Alton Lister, foolishly, went for the block, and consequently, was destroyed by Shawn Kemp. After falling to the ground, Kemp did his infamous finger point at Alton Lister, a moment remembered as one of the most embarrassing in NBA history. Lister actually played with Kemp for a few seasons before this moment, and as shown by this dunk, the two may have had a behind the scenes beef that no one knew about.
2. Shaun Livingston Injury
A player that some dubbed to be the next Magic Johnson, Shaun Livingston suffered one of the most horrific injuries of all-time in a 2007 game versus the Charlotte Bobcats. Livingston landed awkwardly and his knee gave in completely, similar to the recent Gordon Hayward injury. Livingston did not play basketball for the following year and didn’t see much production in 2008, and he began to bounce around the league. Luckily, he did find a good role with the Warriors as a back up and won a ring, but Livingston potentially could’ve been an NBA superstar and multiple time champion if not for the injury.
1. DeAndre Jordan Dunks on Brandon Knight
In what was the beginning of the end for Brandon Knight, DeAndre Jordan nearly killed him with this dunk. Chris Paul lobbed the ball up to DeAndre Jordan, and Knight went up for the ball, not knowing what was coming. He jumped straight into DeAndre Jordan and very quickly fell the ground, where he stay for a minute trying to realize where he was. Brandon Knight became a living meme after this play, and this play easily was the best dunk of that season, and in some fan’s eyes, a top 10 dunk in the history of the NBA. Knight, luckily, bounced back from the play, but was never able to reach his full potential constantly be ridiculed by NBA fans at every arena.
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