A Few Words On Kevin Ware’s Terrible Injury And The Scene Surrounding It
We have all witnessed gruesome injuries in sports on TV, the ones with limbs turned in positions that nature never intended. Just off the top of my head, you’ve got Joe Theismann’s near-iconic broken leg; Jason Kendall hitting the first base bag wrong in 1999 and suffering a dislocated ankle, which came through the skin; Shaun Livingston’s knee injury with the Clippers in 2007 that almost led to his leg being amputated; South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore’s leg dangled in the air after he dislocated his kneecap and tore three ligaments in a game last year.
That’s just what I could remember without looking. I refreshed my memory on a few more through searching. I don’t think anything will “top” what happened to NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk in 1989 when an opponent’s skate cut his carotid artery. He nearly bled to death on the ice.
I won’t link to any of those events. It’s the Internet; you know where to find them if you want to. Same goes with clips of the horrific injury suffered by Louisville guard Kevin Ware. You’ve probably seen it multiple times by now. If you haven’t, just know that the lower half of Ware’s right leg comes close to forming a right angle, with the tibia pointing straight out from the bend.
The point is, these horrible things happen in sports. Some we remember forever. Some we can’t recall but still never forget when it appears again. Ware’s unfortunate fall is something sports fans who were watching CBS at about 2:37 p.m. Pacific on Saturday will never forget, without a doubt. And it will be remembered not for the physical aspect, but the emotional one.
Ware fractured his leg directly in front of the Cardinals’ bench. Within two seconds, teammates were not just disgusted at what they saw, they were recoiling in horror. Some players fell off the bench. There were reports of players vomiting at the sight of Ware’s injury. Louisville assistant coaches got up from their seats and simply ran away. Within five seconds, the players on the court began realizing the brutal truth. Wayne Blackshear, Peyton Siva, and Chane Behanan collapsed. Behanan and Russ Smith seemed inconsolable at times. Rick Pitino was wiping away tears. Duke’s Tyler Thornton, who put up the shot that Ware was attempting to block before coming down very wrong, looked like he had been shot in the heart. CBS showed numerous clearly distraught fans in the stands.
Those reactions aren’t unique or strange. All of them are understandable under the circumstances. But I can’t remember a sports injury that created such an immediate and heavy emotional impact that was broadcast all around the world. The best comparison I can think of is Lawrence Taylor frantically waving for the Redskins’ trainers and grabbing his helmet in shock after breaking Theismann’s leg.
But that was just a couple of players reacting. On Saturday, we had entire teams and multiple coaches trying to find a place to hide. It was surreal. It was instant. It was seen over and over again. It will stay with us forever.
The good news is Ware is doing well after a two-hour surgery later that night. Pitino said after the game he’s been told that the injury is similar to what happened to former Louisville running back Michael Bush in 2007. There’s another ghastly injury I didn’t automatically recall, but I definitely know where I was when it happened. Bush came back from that and spent some time as a starting-caliber player in the NFL. Pitino said Ware will be out for a year, but that he will return “as good as new.”
We can only hope. I wish him the best in his long recovery.