I only saw it once, thankfully. I was grabbing more Easter candy from one of my kids' baskets and when I turned around, everyone was on the floor in what appeared to be a state of shock while Rick Pitino seemed almost frantic. By now increasingly curious, I watched the same replay that you all did. I saw Kevin Ware challenge hard on outside shot from Tyler Thornton and then go over his leg. This time, though, Ware just kept going and his tibia and fibula in his right leg snapped in the most gruesome injury I've ever seen.
Everyone that has played basketball competitively has gotten injured. Most of us have sprains, bumps, bruises, broken noses, and jammed fingers. Some of us have taken it a little farther and torn ligaments, fractured legs, and dislocated joints. That, though, was not a normal basketball injury. I've played, coached, officiated, and watched basketball since the moment I was capable of cognitive thought. Only once before, in a Trevecca Nazarene game, have I seen something like that. There are almost no words to describe watching someone's leg literally snap in half.
#prayersforWare has been trending on Twitter almost since the moment the young man hit the floor. Whether you pray or not, spare a moment to at least feel bad for Kevin Ware. Ware isn't a huge name like his teammares Russ Smith or Payton Siva. Ware played about 17 minutes a game this year and is more of a defensive stopper than a scorer that will grab headlines. His past is a bit checkered, but he was right there, on the verge of acheiving what every college basketball player dreams of, when he lost it. And he didn't just lose it, he lost it in a way that means he won't walk for weeks, in a way that means he's having surgery instead of celebrating. So, spare a moment to think about a young man whose leg came apart right in front of you today.
Take a moment to reflect on what his teammates went on to do as well. Luke Hancock, apparently a close friend based on his immediate recation, played a good deal of the rest of the game and performed well. More than that, the game itself wasn't notably affected. In the aftermath of the injury, Chase Behanan had collapsed, Russ Smith cried, Payton Siva stared into the distance, and even Coach K wept openly. Somehow though, players still ran and jumped. While the announcers, crowd, and millions watching on tv cringed every time someone landed awkwardly, the players just kept going. Louisville kept right on going until they were in the Final Four. Ware's teammates, obviously shaken, regrouped after a few moments and blew Duke away.
In two weeks, Kevin Ware will just be an unfortunate memory for most people. For Ware, the journey will just be beginning, He'll have to learn how to walk again before he even considers playing basketball. Quick trips to the refrigerator and middle of the night bathroom runs will become exercises in advanced planning and risk management. While his teammates practice for Wichita State, Ware will practice getting his physical therapy routine just right.
March Madness is the best time of year for the greatest sport on earth. For four weeks some of the best athletes in the nation perform on the grand stage and an entire country stops to watch. Today, on Easter, that meant we were all on hand to watch when Kevin Ware got injured. For a few moments, everything was back in perspective. So here's to Kevin Ware, and here's to a quick recovery.