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Importance: There is limited research investigating injury and illness among professional basketball players during their rookie season. By improving the understanding of injury incidence and risk specific to rookie players, sports medicine clinicians may be able to further individualize injury mitigation programs that address the unique needs of rookie players. Objective: To compare incidence and rate ratio (RR) of injury and illness among professional National Basketball Association (NBA) players in their rookie season with veteran players and to explore the association of sustaining an injury rookie season with career longevity. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study used an online data repository and extracted publicly available data about NBA players between the 2007 and 2008 season to the 2018 and 2019 season. Available data for initial injury and all subsequent injuries were extracted during this time frame. Exposures: Injury and illness based on injury status during the rookie season of professional NBA players. Main Outcomes and Measures: Injury and illness incidence and RR. Association of injury during the rookie season with career longevity was assessed via Poisson regressions. Results: Of the 12 basketball seasons analyzed, 904 NBA players were included (mean [SD] age, 24.6 [3.9] years; body mass index, 24.8 [1.8]). The injury and illness incidence for rookie players was 14.28 per 1000 athlete game exposures (AGEs). Among all body regions, ankle injuries had the greatest injury incidence among players injured during their rookie season (3.17 [95% CI, 3.15-3.19] per 1000 AGEs). Rookie athletes demonstrated higher RR compared with veterans across multiple regions of the body (ankle: 1.32; 95% CI, 1.12 to 1.52; foot/toe: 1.29; 95% CI, 0.97 to 1.61; shoulder/arm/elbow: 1.43; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.77; head/neck: 1.21; 95% CI, 0.61 to 1.81; concussions: 2.39; 95% CI, 1.89 to 2.90; illness: 1.14; 95% CI, 0.87 to 1.40), and demonstrated a higher rate of initial injuries compared with veteran players (1.41; 95% CI, 1.29 to 1.53). Players who sustained an injury rookie season demonstrated an unadjusted decrease in total seasons played (-0.4 [95% CI, -0.5 to -0.3] log years; P 

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Netw Open

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