Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Win the game"

As my Buckeyes are out of the tournament, I am forced to write about a different team still playing.  The Louisville Cardinals have won their way to the overall first seed, past the rounds of 64 and 32.  They were sweet and proved to be elite.  The team is now scheduled to play in the Final Four against Wichita State after beating Duke.

I, myself did not watch much of the game. (The last five minutes.)  I did however hear about Kevin Ware.  Scrolling through Facebook, I came across a friends post saying that he couldn't believe he just saw a Louisville player break their leg.  Immediately, I switched over to YouTube to see if he was just messing with me or telling the truth.

I found a video, watched it once and felt like his teammates in the video.  I could not believe it, just like my friend said.  I watched the video again only to be more sick to my stomach.  I then switched off of YouTube, closed Chrome and closed my laptop.  My leg had a sort of phantom pain going through it.  I stood up from my chair to reassure myself that I could still walk and my own leg was not broken.

Sometime later, I switched the game on to find that Louisville was destroying Duke and I forced myself to watch the video again.  A Duke player drains a contested three to make the game 21-20 Louisville.  Kevin Ware, being the one to contest, launched his body into the air as the player shot the ball and landed on his right leg as the shot went down.  Ware's lower leg broke in half, broke the muscle and skin, and stuck out of his body leaving the rest of his leg and his foot dangling as he lay on the floor.  He tries to pick up his leg as if to try to get up and lets it fall again as he realizes it's not possible.

Meanwhile, his teammates on the floor are grimacing, kneeling, and staring at the floor.  The players on the bench seem to be frozen until their coach gets up and walks onto the floor to console his players.  The Duke player who made the shot gets excited that he made the shot until he turns to see why a timeout was called.  He poses a grimace as soon as he sees.  The medical staff run over to Ware and cover his leg in a towel and console him, even though he's probably in shock.  Rick Petino, Louisville's head coach then walks over to Ware, as do his teammates on the court and pat him on the chest, tell him he's going to be okay, then start to walk away.

At that point, I'm sure the Cardinals just wanted to walk off the court, into the locker room and pray for Ware.  Ware had other thoughts though.  He told them to win the game.  He said "Win the game, win the game, win the game."  Repeating it until the medical staff picked Ware up on the stretcher and carried him to the ambulance.

The Cardinals certainly did "win the game".  With the score 21-20 Louisville and Duke making that shot, had Ware been just fine, Duke could have won the game.  Instead, Louisville went on a 64-43 run to "win the game" and win by a staggering 22 points.

Oh how I wish I could have been at that game.  In the final five minutes, the crowd was constantly heard as the Cardinals had taken over the game and were improving on the lead.  Then the last minute hits the game clock and the crowd goes berserk.  It's a feeding frenzy and Coach K calls a timeout.  He pulls his seniors out and congratulates them as they take a seat.  The Blue Devils inbound the ball and dribble it past half court and stop.  Five seconds left and the Duke point guard drops the ball as Louisville's point guard takes him into an embrace and the crowd goes fanatic as the clock runs out.

A Cardinal is wearing Ware's jersey and the camera is focused on him.  Petino gets a quick post game Q&A.  The only Q being Ware's status.  Petino tells America that he has broken his lower leg in two places and that the bone popped through the skin.  The channel goes to commercial and when they come back the trophy is presented and players drape Ware's jersey in front of it.  The Louisville Cardinals play in Atlanta on Saturday, the home town to Kevin Ware.

I have decided to root for Louisville to win the National Championship, not because of Kevin Ware's horrific injury, but because they have simply dominated every game in the tournament and proved that they can "win the game".