Becoming a star in the NBA is no small feat. Each roster carries a maximum of 15 players and there are only 30 teams in the entire league, so even making the NBA is a major accomplishment. To stand out as one of the very best in that small fraternity is a an accolade that brings fame, fortune and all that goes with it.
Some players come into the league already household names, needing to live up to expectations placed on them before their first game as a professional. Others arrive unheralded, needing to rise above the bigger names in order to make their impact.
For these five players, their stories may not have similar beginnings, but they do have similar ends. They were all on top of the mountain until an event or series of events changed their fortunes forever.
Here are five NBA players who saw their All-Star careers vanish.
Brandon Roy was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest names in basketball around the end of the last decade. He was one of the best scorers in the NBA and was part of a young Portland Trail Blazers core that seemed destined for success in the years to come. Roy was voted Rookie of the Year in the 2006-07 season, almost unanimously. He was selected as a reserve in the 2008 All-Star Game, the first selection of his career. He would repeat the honor in 2009 and would also make the All-NBA Second Team.
Roy had become one of the best players in the NBA despite a nagging history of knee injuries. He would never play 82 games in a season despite winning Rookie of the Year and making the All-Star team for three straight seasons. His rise and subsequent fall come during an era in which the Blazers seemed to be snakebitten by injuries. Just one year after drafting Roy, the Blazers would encounter similar issues with center Greg Oden.
Roy’s basketball journey has fortunately continued past his own NBA career. He is the head coach at Nathan Hale High School in his native Seattle. The school’s basketball program is one of the most prestigious in the country and is the alma mater of 2018 first round pick Michael Porter Jr.
While a member of the Washington Wizards, Gilbert Arenas became one of the most popular players in the NBA. His eclectic personality complemented his elite skill as a scorer on the court, and he led the Wizards to some of the most successful seasons in franchise history. Arenas would make his first All-Star appearance in 2005, a season in which he averaged 25.5 points per game. He would finish the following season as the league’s fourth leading scorer with 29.3 points per game.
Arenas had a penchant for making clutch shots to win games for the Wizards, including one against the Bulls that helped the team win its first playoff series in over a decade. In 2006, he set the Wizards’ franchise scoring record by scoring 60 points in a win against the Lakers. Injuries would derail Arenas from his elite form over that span, but another incident would derail his career entirely.
A scandal involving unpaid gambling debts and illegal firearms would cause the Wizards to suspend, demote and eventually trade Arenas. His NBA career ended fairly unceremoniously as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012.
Petrovic is the only player on this list to not officially make an All-Star team, but he was selected as All-NBA honoree in 1993. Petrovic was an elite three point shooter, with a 43.7% average for his entire career. Petrovic would average over 20 points per game in his final three seasons, and came close to joining the 40/50/90 club as well. A member of the famed Yugoslavian national teams of the 80s and early 90s, Petrovic famously battled with players like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in international competition. He helped lead Croatia to the silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games.
On June 7th, 1993, a few months before his 29th birthday, Petrovic died in a car accident. Many around the league mourned him, and the NBA held a moment of silence in his honor before Game 1 of the 1993 Finals. The Nets retired his number the following season, and he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Derrick Rose became one of the biggest stars in the NBA not long after his career began. After being selected first overall by his hometown Chicago Bulls in 2008, Rose would win Rookie of the Year. He competed in a legendary seven game series against the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics that year, truly making himself a rising star in the league. Two seasons later, Rose would become the youngest player in NBA history to win MVP at only 22 years old. That season, Rose would average 25 points and nearly 8 assists per game as he led the Bulls to the best record in the NBA. The Bulls would experience the same success a season later, but Rose’s career would soon be altered forever.
On April 30, 2011 in Game 1 of a first round series against the Sixers, Rose tore his ACL. He would miss the following season entirely, and has yet to play in 70 games since his MVP season.
For a long time, it seemed that Derrick Rose’s story would end fairly sadly, but he’s managed to change that this season. Rose scored 50 points against the Jazz on October 31, and was nearly selected as an All-Star for the fourth time this season. Despite his injury history, Rose remains one of the most popular and well-liked players in the league.
As Michael Jordan’s career began to wind down in the mid-to-late 1990s, many wondered who would be the next player to take the title of the best in the league. For a while, it seemed that Penny Hardaway could be that player. The former Memphis Tigers star had the size of a forward, but the skill set of a point guard. He was able to take over a game either by scoring or playmaking, much like Magic Johnson had done a decade before him.
Hardaway (along with Shaquille O’ Neal) would lead the Magic to their first ever appearance in the Finals in 1995. The team was swept that year, but Penny became one of the most popular players in basketball. He made the All-Star team for four straight seasons, before injuries began to take their toll on his body.
He would never be the same as a player after 1998, and that leaves many fans wondering just how good he could have been if he had only stayed healthy.
Hardaway is now the head coach at his alma mater, Memphis.