In admiration of the New York Times’ terrifying new paywall, Negative Dunkalectics is proud to announce our own paywall: after April 1st, you will have to pay us to keep writing this junk! (Just kidding boat: we do this for the kids.)
As traffic-crashing as the Times plan is, it pales in comparison to the more serious injuries our NBA superstars keep suffering, day after day in their lives on and off the court. Between freak Segway incidents, getting a hand bitten off by a seal, and hair plug rejections, it seems like half the league is currently bed-ridden. Anyway, here’s our attempt at staying above the haters, the third-ever (and hopefully last ever) “Negative Dunkalectics Power Rankings [of Injured Players].”
10. Paul Millsap / left knee tendinitis
Since his hot start early on in the season, Millsap has definitely petered out, dragging a bag of mediocrity behind him, like a ragamuffin's bindle. Regardless, he was still an essential part of the team, especially in the wake of the Deron Williams’ trade. In an echo of earlier and brighter times in Salt Lake City, the lottery-bound Jazz still found a statistically similar, slightly crappier replacement for him while he’s injured!
9. Shaquille O’Neal / the big Achilles [tendon]
By committing themselves to Shaquille O’Neal’s rickety bones and enormous hubris after trading Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics have definitely erred. O’Neal hasn’t played since the beginning of February (that would be 18 games for anybody counting), and he might be more concerned with talk show appearances and general hubris than pushing himself back into playing shape. Allegedly, he practiced in a shoot around yesterday, but that’s the most good news I’ve heard about him in a while. Is his return enough to push a floundering team back in the right direction?
That was the serious way of saying: Shaquille O'Neal and his giant feet probably killed the Celtics this season - mind, body and soul - and it sucks.
8. Joakim Noah / illness of ears and brain
The Chicago Bulls’ franchise center has been sick for a few days. From what I’m hearing on Twitter, this is the scoop: while watching tape of a future opponent’s game at the Bulls’ practice facility, Noah became violently ill while listening to a segment of Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy’s color commentary. I can’t blame him for taking a day or two off after that. Most people who watch those games take months off before watching another NBA game! Somehow, he bounced back from that to play last night against the Nets.
One thing I love about Tracy McGrady this year is that despite the extent of his injuries – essentially having both of his legs and his torso melted and reformed out of cybernetic cables – he has reformed the nature of his game into this weird point guard thing that everybody (meaning myself) talks about, but yet nobody actually watches.
I hope Michael Redd, who blew up so hard in the middle of the last decade, can renovate his style of play in a similar way as zombie McGrady. At the same time, I fear and expect that the best we will see is a sad alternate future vision of Paul Pierce’s final season (but probably not as good as that). Despite the futuristic way of correcting Redd’s various knee ailments, he likely is still suffering from a case of the Ancient Feingolds, a terrible Flemish infliction which causes a patient to smolder out in their prime, then linger around for years afterwards in a drowsy, afflicted haze of ennui and regret.
6. Eric Gordon / right wrist injury
The season before Negative Dunkalectics started, I got into fantasy basketball for the first time with the other principal characters that would end up forming this site. I’m almost certain I picked up Eric Gordon in the draft, but it might’ve been through one of those magical trades that happen sometimes where you end up completely wrecking your trade partner (this year, I got Blake Griffin and Dorell Wright for O.J. Mayo and J.J. Hickson).
Either way, I was extremely pleased by his performance. Even though I didn’t get him in this season’s league, I was happy for his improvement this year: he deserves his success and to have a higher ceiling than analysts predicted; it’s evident of a lot of hard work. But then he got hurt, and the Clippers have been shitty, and besides Blake, unwatchable since then. When Don Sterling’s robotic, still-racist sequel unveils a holographic bust of Gordon at the beginning of the 2027-28 season, we will think back of this as a low point.
5. Rajon Rondo / straight up missing you Perk
Since approximately the time of the All-Star break, Rondo has played with something amiss. It was evident when NBA TV’s “The Association” aired its latest episode – covering the drama of the trade deadline in Boston – that the team’s emotions were breaking at that point, and it remains to be seen if Rondo is comfortable without Perkins in town to hang out and get into adventures with.
It's not just his stat line, which fluctuated before settling into depression lately. He is clearly suffering from an injury, probably various physical ailments from pushing himself night after night, but because basketball is such a psychological sport, it seems natural that part of it has to do with the disappointment of losing a close friend at the cost of business.
4. Tyreke Evans / plantar fasciitis
According to my friends in med school, one of the most effective ways of treating plantar fasciitis is with “motion control running shoes.” According to my brain, that seems like a really awesome and necessary futuristic invention (kind of like pushing the “moving sidewalk” to the next level), but pretty unfair when you consider that almost all of the NBA’s players propel themselves with their own bodies. Let’s just hope that when Evans returns at the end of the season (or just next year, if he realizes that Marcus Thornton is better at him at scoring, like he never figured that out with Kevin Martin).
3. Rudy Gay / left shoulder
One of my favorite things about Rudy Gay being injured is that it has allowed the forlorn beast of Tony Allen to come alive and defend every great swingman in the league – most of which with some degree of success. I think the one notable exception is that “I do this” time with Carmelo? I hope Rudy stays out forever and teaches himself boo-ray.
2. Danilo Gallinari / sprained left toe
As I reported in my now-classic essay, “Denver, the Riveting Hydra,” Gallinari has been out after getting a series of increasingly elaborate neck tattoos. That’s cool, kind of Denver’s thing, but if the Nuggets are going to get into any sort of groove before the playoffs, they’re going to need the floor-spreading and sharp-shooting ability of the Italian Stallion. Oh, they’re 100-2 since the Carmelo trade? In that case, I recommend an apple neck tat for Mr. Gallinari. He needs to remember where he came from.
1. Zydrunas Ilgauskas / gross infected foot
A couple of weeks ago, Big Z, Chris Bosh and LeBron were bored and they figured that since they were big time Floridians, they could get into the naval base in St. Augustine and sneak into the abandoned naval prison there to take some ill, spooky pictures. Stopped at the gate, LeBron flashed his pearlies and the guard let them in without question.
They parked at the commissary and snuck around for a little while, pretending to be checking things out, until finally they got to the isolated corner on the water where the prison building was. There was no way of getting in through any ground floor entrance, so Bosh and Z picked up a discarded chain link fence and leaned it against the building so they could climb up and through a hole in the concrete wall.
LeBron shimmied up through the hole first, followed by Z and Bosh. It was dark, sans for sparse, dusty light provided by assorted holes poked through the walls by years of decay and erosion. They had arrived in what appeared to be the prehistoric cafeteria, old wooden benches and equipment littering the floor. Bosh noticed a staircase off to the side of the room, climbing up to an even darker floor above.
The men crept up the stairs, flashlights in hand, until reaching nearly the top steps. All of the sudden, a cold wind swept across all of them, and a blank voice called out into the night. They panicked, running back down the staircase, and towards the end, Big Z stepped on a nail sticking out of one of the benches. Arriving safely back in Miami later in the day, Z went to the doctor and got a tetanus shot for the gross puncture wound in his foot. One part of this story is true: he actually did step on a nail.
And on that cheerfully gross note, the third Official Top 10 Authoritative Power Rankings [of Injured Players] has been completed. Hopefully all of these dudes get healthy and none of them get traded in the off-season to Houston.