NBA: Each team’s greatest comeback from injury in franchise history

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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NBA (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The NBA, like many sports, has seen its fair share of injuries.

As recently as a season ago, fans were devastated as the sight on television, when just minutes into the season, Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward broke his ankle. Like many freak accidents, viewers and those sitting courtside were not prepared for that, as it proved to be a pretty serious injury.

Hayward is just one comeback story in a series of many as we detail each NBA’s team comeback injury story. Some happened in the prime of some players’ careers while others happened in the very beginning.

In a time when medical practices weren’t as advanced as they are today, things like torn ACLs and ruptured Achilles’ heels were foreign to a lot of doctors and surgeons in the early days of the NBA.

Now, they’re normal injuries with recovery times and specialists to boot.

Looking back at history and injuries, things have certainly improved given all the money that’s put into the game of basketball. Here’s a look at each team’s greatest comeback from injury in franchise history.

Greatest injury comeback in Atlanta Hawks history: Dominique Wilkins

Achilles’ heel

Dominique Wilkins was known for his highlight reel dunks and acrobatic style, but there was a time where his career almost came to an end. During the 1991-92 season, Wilkins’ season was cut short on Jan. 28 against the Philadelphia 76ers when he ruptured his Achilles’ heel at a time when he needed just 25 points to reach the 20,000 point mark.

He was a peculiar case as most players, especially in the 90s, typically need six to 12 months to recover from the injury.

Not Wilkins, as he returned to his All-Star form the following season and didn’t skip a beat for the Atlanta Hawks, appearing in 71 contests and producing 29.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

In his return season, Wilkins put up eight games with 40 points or more and 31 games with 30 points or more to take home the NBA’s Comeback Player of the Year award back in its existence.

His production was of enough value that he even ended up getting traded to the Los Angeles Clippers during the 1993-94 season. He would go on to spend time with three other teams in the NBA and even spent some time overseas in Greece and Italy before calling it quits after the 1998-99 season.

Wilkins would go on to surpass 20,000 points and finished his career with 26,668 points, which ranks 13th among all players in league history. His injury didn’t slow him down despite his age at 32 years old and he remains an inspiration for guys who’ve recently suffered the injury, like DeMarcus Cousins.