With the recent news of Gordon Hayward wanting to leave Boston and opting out of his contract to become a free agent it got me thinking.
What athletes deserve do-overs in their careers?
Who could have made it big if they had gone to the right situation or the guy who was on the rise before a devastating injury finished what was a promising start.
Since he was the inspiration for the blog, let’s start here. Hayward signed with the Celtics on July 4th of 2017. The C’s had gotten Al Horford the off-season prior. And the addition of Hayward was a beacon of hope for a couple of reasons.
First, it was a player just entering his prime. Hayward the year prior made his first NBA All-Star team for the Utah Jazz, averaging over 20 points per game for the first time in his career.
The Celtics were about to get the 27 year old All-Star just as he was entering his best years.
Jaylen Brown was in his second year with the team, they just drafted Jayson Tatum and just over a month later the team traded for Kyrie Irving. This was a championship caliber team ready to compete with Lebron James.
But as we all know Gordon Hayward just five minutes into his Celtics career broke his leg and that basically ended that dream.
— Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) October 18, 2017
Or his life according to Dwight Howard.
Since then Hayward was a shell of his former self. Only coming out to dominate the Minnesota Timberwolves every now and then for some reason.
Seriously, he averaged 31.3 PPG in three contests against the T-Wolves from 2018-2020.
But he could just never get back to being an All-Star level player.
Sure the metrics and stats said the Celtics were a better team with Hayward on the floor but he wasn’t the cornerstone player they thought they were signing from Utah.
I wish Hayward the best wherever he lands next. The guy deserves a change of scenery and I don’t blame him for it, imagine what he could have become if he didn’t sign with Boston. He deserves a do over.
I actually was just talking about Ben Gordon to a few friends not too long ago. About how he was seemingly a super star for an up and coming Chicago Bulls team and then “Poof” he just fell off the face of the earth.
At just 25 years old in 2009. Could still be on his parents health insurance plan if he wanted. Gordon played in all 82 games for Chicago. Averaged 20 points per game for the first time in his career and helped drag a rookie D-Rose and the Bulls to a mediocre 41-41 record.
But he and Rose fought tooth and nail against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs in a series which is mostly forgotten but game for game might be the best NBA playoff series of all time.
Gordon then went to the Detroit Pistons, played a full season just once in three years and averaged only 12.4 ppg in his time in the Motor City.
His career ended with two years in Charlotte averaging 10 ppg in 94 contests and one final last gasp in Orlando in 2015.
He was out of the NBA by age 31.
Ben Gordon certainly deserves a re-do on his career. Like one of his Chicago Bulls Teammates
He’s still playing but this one is so obvious I can’t not mention it.
No one has been cheated out of such an obvious hall of fame career as Derrick Rose. An NBA All-Star in three of his first four seasons. An MVP in just his third year in the league. Arguably ascending to the throne of best point guard in the Association.
And then his knee gave out. He missed time from 2011-13 with a torn ACL. Came back in 2013-14 but played in only ten games and since then the most games he’s played in a season is 66.
The Bulls traded him to New York when they realized the artist formerly known as Derrick Rose was no more. And there in the Big Apple we all realized, that D-Rose just wasn’t D-Rose anymore.
Now we celebrate his 50 point game with Minnesota like a life time achievement award rather than an impressive addition to his resume like we do for a Lillard or Harden.
Although Rose has certainly bounced back a little bit as he hits his early 30’s. While he might not be a durable asset, he’s averaged 18 points per game in his last two seasons and the Pistons seem to like him as their starting point guard going forward.
Still though, ten years ago we were predicting so much more.
Okay, moving on from basketball because there are plenty more if we really think about it and moving onto one of the guys I think should be near the top of this list.
Carson Palmer was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at USC. And the consensus no doubt number one pick for Cincinnati in the 2003 NFL Draft.
Palmer took a bad Bengals team and in his second year as a starter and made the pro bowl and led the NFL in touchdowns (32) and completion % (67.8%), leading Cincy to an 11-5 record.
He had all of the makings of a NFL Hall of Fame quarterback.
Cincinnati barely missed a first round bye and had to play in the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round of the 2005 playoffs.
On the second play of the game Steelers lineman, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, hit Palmer low.
Which actually is what prompted the NFL to make the rule change about hitting QB’s in the leg, not so much Tom Brady’s injury from Bernard Pollard.
Palmer had torn both his ACL and MCL, and also had meniscus and cartilage damage. Jon Kitna replaced Palmer, the Bengals lost and the Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
After that injury Palmer came back but never led the NFL in any meaningful stat again except for when he threw 20 interceptions in 2007.
Palmer would suffer nagging injuries through the rest of his Bengals career. Eventually he was traded to Oakland for a couple of draft picks where he spent two losing seasons with the Raiders before getting sent to the Arizona Cardinals for next to nothing.
Palmer did enjoy somewhat of a revival in Arizona starting at age 34. Even making the pro bowl in 2015 at 36 years young.
But the closest to glory he ever got was in 2015 when the Cardinals made it to the NFC Championship game but got destroyed by the Carolina Panthers during Cam Newton’s MVP season.
Carson Palmer was a Heisman Trophy winning talent at USC, and proved he was a franchise quarterback in his second year at Cincinnati.
But after the knee injury he was never the same. The Bengals franchise also never truly helped him by surrounding him with a good team. Then to get shipped to Oakland and Arizona.
Palmer played for three of the worst franchises this millennium.
Imagine if Palmer was drafted by a more stable team in 2003.
Later in that first round, with the 22nd overall pick the Chicago Bears took Florida QB, Rex Grossman. Grossman fell backwards into a Super Bowl game because of a dominant Bears defense.
Imagine if those two players were able to switch places.
Or even Jacksonville at number seven overall taking Byron Leftwich. Leftwich never panned out for the Jags and yet under coach Jack Del Rio the Jags went 12-4 in 2005 and 11-5 in 2007. Imagine Palmer playing for those teams, his career and that franchise could be completely different.
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