Milwaukee Bucks: Worst injuries in franchise history

MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 02: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 02: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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BALTIMORE, MD – CIRCA 1970’s: (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD – CIRCA 1970’s: (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

1. Kent Benson – (1977-1978)

Injury – Fractured Jaw

To say that Kurt Benson’s NBA career got off on the wrong foot would be the understatement of the century.

After being selected with the first overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft as a star out of Indiana University, having won the NCAA Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player Award, much was expected of Benson. In his first game with Milwaukee, he was tasked with guarding the game’s greatest center, former Bucks star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Most eye witnesses report Benson had gotten off to a bright start against Abdul Jabbar and was holding his own in the initial moments of the game. Then came the moment which affected both Benson and the whole franchise.

Two minutes into the game, while tussling for position in the post, Benson elbowed Abdul-Jabbar in the stomach region, forcing him away from play for a few seconds to re-gather himself. Then in a moment of madness, Abdul-Jabbar floored Benson with a roundhouse right to the face so hard it shattered his Jaw. A severely concussed Benson was assisted off the floor while Abdul-Jabbar was ejected for the outburst.

The irony of all this runs strong as Benson was clearly selected by Milwaukee to fill the shoes Abdul-Jabbar had vacated when he left for Los Angeles. Instead, he was now out for an extended period of time and most would argue he never fully returned. Instead of becoming Milwaukee’s next great center, he became known as “the guy who was punched by Kareem”.

After spending two mediocre seasons in Milwaukee, where he averaged only 10.2 points and 5.8 rebounds, he was then traded to Detroit for Pistons legend, Bob Lanier. If you ask any Bucks fan from the era, most will agree that much more was expected out of Benson and that moment of madness from Abdul-Jabbar severely impacted Benson’s career. He lost the confidence which had led to the success he achieved in college and as a result, never fully lived up to the hype of being the first overall pick in the draft.

Next: Milwaukee Bucks: Top-10 individual seasons in franchise history

One could argue that as Benson went on to play a further 12 seasons in the NBA after this incident that it wasn’t the most severe, but the sheer fact that Benson played only two minutes in his whole NBA career before this incident weighs heavily on its influence. A bizarre moment right at the outset of his pro career, potentially changed the course of Benson’s life forever. Who knows what he could have provided the Bucks with, if not for that punch.