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Is Aaron Rodgers Done? 5 NBA Stars Who Say Otherwise

Jan 8, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) warms up before playing the Miami Heat at FTX Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael Laughlin-USA TODAY Sports

What was supposed to be an exciting start to this season of the NFL’s Monday Night Football ended on a sour note, with NY Jets QB Aaron Rodgers suffering a likely season-ending torn Achilles. This could certainly be the final go around in the 39-year-old’s illustrious career, but what if it isn’t?

What if Rodgers decides to come back for one more, just to finish on better terms?

It wouldn’t be the first time an athlete has pulled off such a feat, and it makes for a good story too. There are numerous examples of this across all professional sports. Often times, the player actually ends up outperforming expectations significantly upon return. Will Rodgers do the same?

Only time will tell.

For comparison’s sake though, it does help to dial black the clock in sports history a bit. Just for some similar examples, and to determine the likelihood of a Rodgers return. There’re far too many. across sports as a whole to list at once though. So for now, we’ll simply focus on hoopers. Meet Aaron Rodgers’ NBA equivalents: 5 stars whose debuts with new teams were cut short.

Is Aaron Rodgers Done? 5 NBA Stars Who Say Otherwise

1. Gordon Hayward

Arguably the most popular example of the Rodgers phenomenon, Hayward found his long-awaited debut for the Boston Celtics cut short just moments into the season. Hayward famously went up for a contested lob and landed awkwardly, resulting in a rather gruesome sight.

Hayward’s leg was completely twisted to the side, with a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle listed as the cause. An extremely dismal way to start the year for fans eager to catch the All-Star on his new team. It’s very similar to the situation that Jets fans find themselves in today.

Fortunately, Hayward was able to bounce back from the aforementioned tragedy, but it wasn’t for the same team. The swingman’s production in Boston was average at best, and just wasn’t a great fit at the time. The two parties effectively realized this, and Hayward signed with the Charlotte Hornets as soon as his contract expired. Ever since, Hayward has been averaging 16.7 ppg over 3 seasons for Charlotte. Sure, a slight fall-off from what once was, but definitely nothing to be scoffed at. Especially after the severity of the injury in question. Of course, Hayward was 27 at the time. A comeback of such nature could be tough for Rodgers at his age, but never out of the question. Hayward’s leg was literally twisted to the side, yet he’s still active in the league to this day. If he could do it, then there’s no reason to doubt the next man.

2. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant’s situation here is slightly different, as he suffered his injury before the season even started. In fact, he suffered the injury when he was still on his former team.

Durant missed his entire debut season with the Brooklyn Nets as a result, not even appearing in a preseason game. It wasn’t in vain though.

Durant made up for missed time the following year, averaging 34 ppg in the playoffs and leading Brooklyn to within one game of the NBA finals. All of this was also done coming off an Achilles tear, the same injury that currently has Rodgers sidelined.

Despite some off-court troubles, KD still managed to make Nets fans time worthwhile for anticipating his arrival. Aaron Rodgers tearing his Achilles at 40 is obviously different than Durant doing so at 31 but hey, it’s the comeback that counts.

KD proved that an Achilles tear isn’t a death kneel for athletes, and has maintained All-NBA status until now. Here’s to hoping that Rodgers does the same, and that his road to recovery goes just as smoothly.

3. Joel Embiid

Before we acknowledge the current MVP’s emergence as a future hall of famer, it’s important to remember what came prior.

Joel Embiid famously missed his two first seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, and only played 31 games in his third. A broken foot and a subsequent torn meniscus were the causes for concern here, and to no surprise. Lower body injuries are like the plague for big men, and have ravaged numerous promising careers. Fans were, of course, worried that Embiid would be yet another name on the long list of could-have-beens.

Fast forward years later, and that’s the opposite of what has transpired. Embiid is now an All-Star, All-NBA, and MVP level talent. Somehow, the big man has also continued to play around 60+ regular season games a year as well. Definitely not something to have been seen coming, at least way back when. Embiid has, in a way, become a representation of players looking to successfully bounce back from injury. It was few who believed Embiid’s career would go smooth after its rocky start. The same ppl that can’t help but writhe in disbelief at what they see today.

In a similar fashion, Aaron Rodgers also finds himself with significant odds against him. Whether it’s his age, or long years playing, there are admittedly few that see professional football in Rodgers’ future. Sure, Joel Embiid and the QB may have had nothing in common before this. They now have the potential to share this moment though, and be two of the better athletes to return from such uncertainty.

4. Blake Griffin

Due to his recent lack of production, it’s easy to forget whom Blake Griffin used to be. At his peak the forward was one of the best in basketball, throwing dunks down on anyone who felt otherwise. Griffin famously combined forces with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan as well, to bring “Lob City” to life. It is probably one of the most entertaining ball teams of recent times, perhaps even all time.

However, as with everyone else listed, it wasn’t always so easy for Griffin. His first pre-season game in the league ended in a knee fracture. One that kept him out his entire rookie season, and casted countless doubt yet again.

Griffin did his part to silence the crowd afterwards, though.

Blake Griffin’s comeback the next season was named one of Sport’s Illustrated’s top 15 rookie seasons of all time. Griffin played all 82 games, averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds per game, and won himself Rookie of the Year. A career with multiple All-Star, and All-NBA teams was soon to come as well.

Obviously Griffin’s predicament was comparatively different. He was 19, entering his rookie season. Aaron Rodgers has played an entire career’s worth, and is close to being on the outs.

It changes the likelihood, but not the principle.

Leg injuries in sports are tough, but they aren’t damning to the point of no return. Blake Griffin made that clear 10 years ago, and it’s Aaron Rodgers turn to do so now.

5. Julius Randle

Julius Randle‘s first season with the Los Angeles Lakers ended alike to Rodgers, missing the entire season after game one. Randle broke his tibia just minutes after tip off, and expectations dwindled for the former lottery pick.

The forward has made a solid name for himself since then, with All-Star and All-NBA accolades to go alongside. Randle has recently also played a pivotal role in a fellow New York teams rise from purgatory.

Sound familiar?

What Randle has been able to do for the Knicks so far definitely is reminiscent of what Jets fans wished for when Rodgers initially came to town. The Jets have struggled for some time now, maybe he could be the one to turn it around?

It’s not going to be possible this season, but who’s to say it won’t ever happen?

Only the future can determine, and sports fanatics can only hope that such future is in Aaron Rodgers favor.


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