Steve Blake sat out last night’s Lakers/Spurs tilt due to a case of the chickenpox. At age 31. Weird, but no biggie, right?

Wrong. The problem is that neither Kobe Bryant nor Andrew Bynum have ever had chickenpox, meaning the Lakers’ playoff campaign could be derailed by a malady that caused you to miss kindergarten. Not to mention the threat of shingles, a chickenpox spin-off that lies dormant in adults until springing forth at the worst possible time. It’s not funny that these guys could be getting a 3-year-old’s disease, but it is kind of funny that chickenpox is a legitimate playoff concern for one of the best teams in the league.

However, this isn’t the first time a childhood ailment has caused problems for grownups in the NBA. In fact, it’s been happening forever.

Juwan Howard comes down with scarlet fever, 1864
Sure, scarlet fever is now easily treated by antiobiotics, but when Juwan Howard caught it during his first season with the Nuggets that wasn’t the case. Howard was placed in isolation and covered with leeches for three weeks. When that didn’t work, the physicians of yore tried blood-letting, making several tiny incisions on his inner thigh. Eventually the fever broke and Howard returned to the team after missing 17 games.

Doug Christie develops fifth disease, 2001
Also called “slapped cheek syndrome,” fifth disease is a rash that usually develops in infants and is not very contagious. When Christie showed up to a Kings practice with bright red cheeks, everyone just assumed his notoriously controlling wife had gone a little overboard. Wouldn’t have been the first time.

Mike Dunleavy, Jr. gets a three-day fever, 2003
Living on his own for the first time in his life, Lil’ Dun didn’t know what to do when he woke up with a pink rash covering his upper body. Luckily his dad worked six hours down the road and was able to bring him some chicken noodle soup, Sprite slushies and VHS copies of both “Wayne’s World” movies. After that, Lil’ Dun was just like new.

Carlos Boozer catches hand, foot and mouth disease, 2006
At first Carlos Boozer thought he had a cold sore, but when they showed up all over his hands, he knew something was wrong. After getting checked out at the doctor and told there was no treatment, Boozer holed up in his Salt Lake City home for a week until symptoms subsided. Luckily for him, he was already sitting out with an injured hamstring so no big deal.

Boris Diaw has whooping cough, 2007
Even though the Suns’ training staff told him that it was an old wive’s tale, when Boris Diaw caught whooping cough he took the mantra “Starve a fever, feed a cold” to heart. And to waist, thighs and hips. Pretty much everywhere, really.


As you can see, NBA players have been suffering through these childhood illnesses forever. That’s why it’s so important to vaccinate your NBA players. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the Finals because you forgot an MMR booster.

Comments (60)

  1. wow. i had no idea this was so common. They all look very sick, and i’m surprised their mommy let them play. I got chicken pox last year and it was sucky, but i got to stay home and play pokemon all day so that was fun.

  2. Little-known fact: Bruce Bowen played his entire NBA career with a debilitating case of the cooties.

  3. scarlet fever? is that what they’re calling it these days?

  4. The Boozer one looked fake to me for some reason

  5. Adam Morrison had the Cheese Touch.

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