Commentary

Hurt while playing pickup basketball

Updated: April 1, 2011, 5:05 PM ET
By Patrick Hruby | Page 2

With apologies to author Richard Connell -- oh, and also Ice-T and Gary Busey in "Surviving the Game" -- the world's most dangerous game isn't man hunting man for perverse sport.

It's man elbowing, kneeing and tripping man -- or just plain landing funny -- in pickup basketball.

Case in point? Free-agent quarterback Chad Pennington, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a pickup game and will undergo surgery next week, an injury that possibly will end his pro football career. Of course, when it comes to the playground being less heaven then ER, Pennington is hardly alone. Page 2 takes a quick look at other athletes who were hurt while hooping it up:

Barack Obama
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty ImagesEven U.S. presidents aren't immune to the dangers of pickup basketball.

Zack Greinke

The Milwaukee Brewers' prized offseason acquisition suffered a hairline fracture in one of his ribs while going up for a rebound in a February pickup game and began the current season on the disabled list. Said the ace pitcher: "Everyone always told me not to do it because I was going to get hurt. It finally caught up to me."

Aaron Boone

The former MLB player -- and current ESPN television analyst -- hit a dramatic, series-winning home run for the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox in the 2003 American League Championship Series; during the subsequent offseason, he tore a knee ligament playing pickup, in violation of his contract, and was cut by the Yankees, who graciously replaced him with Alex Rodriguez.

Denny Hamlin

The NASCAR driver suffered a painful hip injury after falling during a 2008 pickup game; two years later, Hamlin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing basketball at a Charlotte gym, an injury that forced him to get reconstructive surgery after the first six races of the 2010 season. Said Hamlin following the first injury: "I'd like to say I was going up for a dunk, but I think everybody knows that ain't true."

Braylon Edwards

The then-Cleveland Browns receiver reportedly missed several offseason practices and 2009 training camp with an "undisclosed injury" that was widely believed to be a hurt ankle suffered in a pickup basketball game; frustration over the injury and other factors, including off-field incidents, played a role in the Browns trading the former first-round draft pick to the New York Jets.

Peter Tomasulo

The pro golfer broke a bone in his foot during an East Coast-West Coast rivalry pickup basketball game -- who knew? -- held before a Nationwide Tour event in October; he later played the season-ending Nationwide championship with the help of a walking cane but was forced to withdraw from PGA Q-school in December due to foot pain.

Michael Jordan

Had two of his ribs broken by Ron Artest during a 2001 summer pickup game in Chicago, an injury that forced Jordan to miss four weeks of training before his Washington Wizards comeback -- lost conditioning that likely contributed to the aging superstar's subsequent knee problems.

President Obama

Received 12 stitches in his lip after being hit by the elbow of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute program director Rey Decerega during an early-morning 2010 pickup game at Fort McNair. Fun facts: According to The Washington Post, Decerega was a high school basketball star and earned the college nickname "Nice Guy Rey."

Patrick Hruby is a freelance writer and ESPN.com contributor. Contact him at PatrickHruby.net.

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