The Detroit Pistons face the Chicago Bulls in Paris on Thursday, and they almost had to do so without precocious rookie Jalen Duren.
As of yesterday, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic, the league’s youngest player (19 years and 61 days old) was currently not with the team because he lost his passport. Fortunately, for the Pistons and Duren, the situation was remedied and he was able to reunite with the team in Paris on Wednesday morning.
For Detroit, order is now restored. But still, this situation is too comedic not to wonder — was this almost the most bizarre reason an NBA player has ever missed a game?
Let’s take a look back at some all-timers and see for ourselves.
Sleepy Samuel Dalembert
Let’s be clear, Samuel Dalembert didn’t oversleep for an actual game. No, no, no. But in 2014, the twelve-year veteran did sleep through a shootaround. Then, a few days later, he was late to a workout because he pressed the snooze button one too many times, which forced his team at the time (the Dallas Mavericks) to suspend him for a game.
For twenty years, Tim Duncan was the metronomic force on the dynastic San Antonio Spurs. During the tail end of this run, Coach Gregg Popovich devised a load management strategy to keep Duncan’s aging body fresh for the postseason.
And in a regular season game in 2012, Popovich decided to add a little bit of humor to the strategy – listing Duncan as a DNP – Old. DNP stands for “did not play,” and old meant, well… you get the idea.
Did you know NBA Players can’t use Mopeds?
Did you know that, under the league’s uniform players’ contract, it is illegal for an NBA player to ride a moped? No?
Well, apparently neither did Monta Ellis. In 2008, Ellis, fresh off a $66 million extension, injured his ankle in a low-speed moped crash. And unlike the other players we are spotlighting, this not only cost Ellis one game, but 30, as the team decided to suspend him for 30 games for violating the terms of his contract.
You Only Turn 28 Once
As part of the rehab process from the Torn ACL he suffered in 2013, Rajon Rondo did not play the second leg of back-to-backs during the 2013-14 season.
And as fate would have it, the lottery-bound Boston Celtics were playing the second game of a back-to-back on Rondo’s 28th birthday. The day after they had just been in Los Angeles to play the Lakers.
Naturally, knowing he wasn’t playing anyways, Rondo felt it wise to skip the game altogether and enjoy himself in the City of Angels. This is funny, but we can’t really blame him for this one, because who wouldn’t want to spend their birthday in L.A.?
Duren isn’t the First Player to have Passport Problems
If Duren’s excuse for almost missing a game sounded outlandish, well, it would have been. But if he had missed Thursday’s game, he wouldn’t have even been the first center in NBA history to do so due to passport issues.
Jermaine O’Neal — coincidentally, another talented big man who came into the league at a young age — also had a passport blunder while his team was traveling to play the Toronto Raptors.
However, this didn’t happen when he was a teenager in the league. This happened during his age-35 season (his final year in the league) with the Golden State Warriors in 2013-14.
Unlike Duren, O’Neal didn’t lose his passport, he just left it at home. As a result, he was barred from entering Canada, therefore leaving him ineligible to participate in the game.
For more updates on Duren and the Pistons, be sure to check out SB Nation’s Detroit Bad Boys page.